How to Create PPC Ads Your Buyers Can't Resist Clicking

by Anna Crowe | 12 MIN READ

The goal of virtually all PPC ads is to attract visitors to your website and convert them into buyers (or in some cases, followers). While there are many metrics of importance when managing PPC, most success in PPC ads is measured by the ad's click-through rate or CTR.

I know, I know: What could possibly make your PPC ad CTR metric so exciting that I'd have to write this blog post on it? This metric has greater value than just measuring raw visitor numbers; a high CTR lets Google and other search engines that your ad is attracting clicks and that you're providing a good user experience. And, in turn, a high CTR will increase your Quality Score which allows you to save on cost per click (CPC) and cost per conversion.

Plus, if your pay-per-click ad doesn't receive clicks, it doesn't earn any revenue for the advertising platform. So, if search engines notice your bad boy ad unit rocking a high CTR, you will be given display preference over other poorer performers. When your ad is displayed more, it translates into greater visibility for a lower cost, and so a more effective and economical campaign for the advertiser.

Higher visibility = Higher CTR = Higher Quality Score

= Higher conversions + lower cost per conversion

The upshot is that boosting your CTR will achieve the double benefit of higher visitor numbers and a lower cost per click.

But what can you do to influence this while still retaining a high level of targeting? If you still need more convincing, allow me to leave with these nuggets of wisdom below.

Focus On the Headline

It's a fact borne out by decades of marketing experience that the headline is the single most important part of any advertisement, and online ads are no exception. If the headline doesn't engage the viewer's attention, there will be no click and no resulting sales. The ease of setting up dynamic ads means that all too many marketers rely on using only the keyword in the headline, in the not unreasonable belief this will make the advert look relevant and attractive. However, if most of your competitors for a keyword are also doing this, then the tactic loses its effect if you're not engaging the user.

Here are a few tips for showing a little creativity and originality to create make-you-want-click style headlines:

  • Make full use of the length you have available.
    AdWords made a huge change to better PPC management by adding expanded text ads. Google made these ads 2x bigger giving advertisers two 30-character headlines. Google found this update to dramatically increase CTR – by as much as 25 percent.
  • Use trigger words such as 'free,' 'discount,' or 'limited offer' to catch a reader's attention.
    Avoid the temptation to quote a price in your headline, even if you're confident it's the lowest on the market - reminding someone that they'll have to part with money is a psychological turn off which deters action.


  • Optimize for negative keywords.
    AdWords lets PPC managers choose what keywords you do not want to be seen for in the search engines. When you exclude keyword terms, you're telling the search engines this is not related to your product or service.
  • Try including a call to action (CTA).
    Let's be honest, the majority of people only read headlines. By adding a CTA to your headline, you're convincing your audience to click and eventually convert.


Use Emotion

Another way to stand out is to inject a little emotion into your ad, rather than to display a straightforward commercial offer. What does your typical customer love? What do they hate? What scares them or excites them? If you can get your ad to press a few emotional buttons, it will enjoy much greater traction. Just be sure to qualify the visitor a little by providing a clear indication of what they're clicking on, rather than attracting the merely curious.

Here's a great example of a PPC ad appealing to the searcher's emotion:


Focus on Buyer Intent

The visitors most likely to click on an ad are those who are in a buying frame of mind rather than idly browsing the web for entertainment. Of course, these are also the customers who are likely to be most profitable, so it makes total sense to target them specifically by using commercial keywords in your advertising campaign.

Bidding on keywords such as 'buy,' 'shipping,' 'discount,' and similar all weed out those who aren't likely to have a credit card close to hand, and produces ads which are less likely to be shown to those who aren't likely to click.

Avoid informational targeting such as "Taylor Swift songs," a search which is more likely to be made by someone looking for lyrics or a discography rather than planning to buy a DVD. These readers are less likely to click, dragging down your overall rate - and if they do click, it's highly likely to result in wasted spend.

Think About Your Display URL

Optimizing landing page conversion is a hot topic in marketing, but the process starts even before the visitor clicks on the ad. Make sure your display URL includes the keyword, or a related one, which will greatly help to entice a click.

After all, the display URL takes up a significant proportion of your allotted space, so why not make proper use of it to appeal to potential customers?

Consider Using Symbols

Symbols and other unusual characters can be effective attention-grabbers, especially in the headline. The most basic and subtle examples are dashes and percentage signs, both of which help break up a block of plain text to make it more readable and clickable. However, the tactic can be pushed further by using copyright signs, trademark symbols, or even the ubiquitous hashtag. However, don't overdo this as you don't want your ad to look like an explosion in a keyboard factory.

An added consideration is that, as with most simple techniques, this will only have a positive effect if it differentiates your ad from the competition. If every other ad on a page is using symbols, you could probably benefit more from being the only advertiser who isn't.

Outdo Your Competition

Few ads exist in splendid isolation, and the effectiveness of an individual offering can be greatly influenced by its surrounding messages.

It can pay to monitor the competition, and then clearly match and exceed their offers within your ad.

Is your opponent offering a seven-day trial? Then promise a 28-day no quibble guarantee so that you're providing the most immediately attractive proposition. However, avoid getting caught up in an arms race unless you can afford to win.

Be Current

A simple technique for boosting clicks is to reference an upcoming event or holiday in your ad copy, so long as you can find a way to tie it in naturally.

This has two benefits.

Firstly, it can make your ad seem more relevant and timely, and thus more worthy of action.

Secondly, it provides an easy way to mix up your advertising a little, helping to overcome the phenomenon of ad-blindness that can quickly set in once a reader has come across your ad more than a couple of times.

Here's an example of a current PPC ad from Sephora: 


Use Ad Extensions

Some advertising hosts like Google and Bing offer a facility known as ad extensions. These are ways to add a little extra information to your ad, such as a telephone icon to make phone contact easy, or a reviews extension to provide quick access to third party reviews of your service.

Some of these extensions are automatic, some need to be set up manually, but all are free to use. If relevant to your business, they can significantly improve your ad's visibility and click-drawing power.

Here are a few of my favorite extensions:

  • Sitelinks Extensions: These are links your target audience might find useful that link to specific landing pages.
  • Callout Extensions: These extensions help create trust with the searchers with phrases like "Free Shipping" or "24/7 Customer Service." These are dynamically chosen by Google.
  • Structured Snippets: These snippets add more information to your ad, similar to callout extensions, but these are specific to a product. For example, if you offer amenities you may see "Pool" or "Wifi" in your header.
  • Review Extensions: These extensions are mostly used for e-commerce. You can add a quote, award, or positive review to make your ad stand out.

Keep On Testing

Lastly, never assume your ad campaign is fully optimized, and always continue testing and staying up-to-date on changes to PPC. There sometimes seems little logic in determining which copy works satisfactorily and which truly soars.

For every ad you set up, produce at least a few variations with slight modifications in word choice, word order, offer details, even punctuation. You may be surprised at the results seemingly slight variations can produce.

Whether you're hoping to influence Google's quality score, boost your Facebook relevance score, or create a more effective rotation ad, the aim of online advertising is to induce as many targeted clicks as possible.

Following these tips will improve your ad's CTR while drawing more qualified visitors to your site.

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Originally published May 5, 2017. Updated November 9, 2017.