Unlock the secrets to crafting irresistible SEM ad copy and skyrocket your click-through rates.

Here you’ll find:

  1. What SEM ad copy is
  2. The elements of click-worth SEM ad copy
  3. How to test new SEM ad copy
  4. Proven tactics to drive engagement
  5. Tips straight from our SEM experts
  6. Empowering SEM ad copy stats

Search engine marketing (SEM) is not only in targeting the right audience but also in delivering a compelling message that drives your audience to take action. 

In this guide, we go beyond the basics, and present expert strategies on how to create SEM ad copy that resonates, engages, and ultimately launches your ad campaigns to new heights of success.

 What is SEM ad copy?

Think of SEM ad copy as your online billboard. 

You can use it to captivate the minds of potential customers and entice them to click through to your website. 

The concise and strategic snippet of text that you chose should showcase your brand, product, or service to the people viewing your ad. The main goal of your SEM ad copy is to use the right messaging to secure clicks and steer people in the direction of becoming your valued customer. 

Now, let’s dive into how to create SEM ad copy that commands attention and conversions.

 How to create click-worthy SEM ad copy: 5 elements

There are five main elements that make up the anatomy of an SEM ad, and you need to understand them all to be able to get the most out of your ad copy. 

1. Your headline

The headline isn’t just a catchy phrase. It’s your most strategic piece of copy. 

Within a limited character count, you need to find a way to include your primary keyword and also ignite the curiosity of the person viewing your ad. 

Experienced advertisers are excellent at using this short space to showcase their brand’s unique sales proposition and quickly show what sets them apart from the competition. 

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Take note of Raw & Fresh’s ad copy “Pet Food, Bones & Treats – Home Delivered | Raw & Fresh.” This headline demonstrates several qualities that make it effective.

The ad incorporates relevant keywords such as “Pet Food,” “Bones,” “Treats,” “Home Delivered,” and “Raw & Fresh.” This ensures the ad’s alignment with potential user searches related to pet care. 

In addition, the ad’s emphasis on convenience, quality, and variety (Pet Food, Bones & Treats) immediately communicates benefits to potential customers. 

2. Your description

The description field is your canvas for expanding upon the promise initiated in the headline. 

Experienced SEM marketers strike a balance between highlighting the benefits of their products and crafting a persuasive call-to-action (CTA). 

Use this space to mention your product’s benefits, offer tangible solutions, and provide a glimpse into the value a person can expect when they click your ad. This is a great space to mention your unique selling proposition (USP) since it’s what differentiates you from your competitors.

Dropbox expertly balances this with its ad copy: “With Dropbox™, Bring Your Files & Cloud Content With the Tools Your Team Wants To Use. Easily Access Your Team’s Work From Your Computer, Mobile Device, or Any Web Browser. Back up any file. Automatic backups. Stress-free file sharing. Access your info anytime.”

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The copy highlights its core benefits: accessibility (“Easily Access Your Team’s Work From Your Computer, Mobile Device, or Any Web Browser”) and ease of use (“Stress-free file sharing”). And the addition of a clear and compelling CTA (“Access your info anytime.”) prompts immediate action from users.

Call to action

A call to action (CTA) isn’t necessarily one of the sections you fill out in Google Ads, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

A CTA tells your audience what the desired action is. For instance, “buy now” is a great CTA for your product, and “call now” works well for a plumber. People searching the internet know what you want them to do. But the psychological cue prompts them to take action.

3. Your URL

The display URL may seem like a mere technicality, but it does play an important role in building trust with your audience. 

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Your URL should correspond with users’ expectations and align with your landing page’s content. 

Crafting a URL display that mirrors your brand’s identity and reinforces credibility can lead to higher click-through rates (CTR) and engagement.

4. Ad extensions 

Ad extensions expand the real estate of your SEM ad. You get extra room for additional information that can influence a user’s decision. 

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It’s important to utilize ad extensions to maximize real estate on the search engine results page,” Rachel Corak, HawkSEM’s associate director of SEM, says. Not only will it make your ads stand out, but it will provide you with more space to discuss your product or service.

You can use sitelink extensions to direct users to specific landing pages, callout extensions to highlight unique offers, and structured snippet extensions to categorize and emphasize your offerings.

5. Ad formatting

There is a lot of power in the visuals of ad formatting. You can use capitalization and punctuation to create eye-catching text while adhering to Google’s guidelines. 

On platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can set your keywords in bold and use line breaks strategically to improve the ad’s readability, particularly on mobile device

 How to test new SEM ad copy: A strategic approach to success

To create effective SEM ad copy, you need to continually test its efficiency and optimize your campaigns.

Let’s delve into an in-depth guide on how to create SEM ad copy and effectively test new variations to ensure your campaign’s success.

1. Lay the foundation with in-depth keyword research

Start your keyword research by focusing on user intent. Discern your audience’s needs and aspirations, and then start to build an exhaustive list of keywords. You can also look at synonyms for your keywords, variations that your users might use, and explore long-tail options. 

Leverage tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs for insights into your keywords and competitive analysis.

2. The art of persuasion in ad copy

Tailor your ad copy to directly address your audience’s pain points, desires, and needs (which you should have discovered during your keyword and audience research). Use the insights you gained from your keyword research to weave these keywords seamlessly into your headline and description. 

Emphasize the unique value proposition of your product or service and focus on benefits over features. You need to communicate how your offering can solve users’ problems or enhance their lives and focus on creating an emotional response from your audience.

“Inventive and compelling ad text that makes the user just HAVE to know what’s on the other side of the click. Ditch the boring, generic copy,” says Corak.

Creative copywriting helps searchers who see your ad remember you and what you offer. This really applies to any type of campaign. For instance, the Alka-Seltzer “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” and Bounty’s “the quicker picker upper” are recognizable no matter what part of the country you’re from. 

3. A/B test your ad copy 

Implement A/B testing and use tools such as HawkSEMs ConversionIQ to compare different versions of your ad copy and ensure you avoid unreliable conversion tracking. 

Experiment with different headlines, descriptions, and CTAs. Create SEM ad sets with distinct messaging styles to understand what resonates best with your audience. 

Then, monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs), such as CTR, conversion rates, and cost-per-click (CPC), to determine which ad variants are driving the best results.

4. Landing page alignment

Your ad copy needs to align with the content and messaging of the landing page your audience will see when they click your ad. 

The person’s journey from ad click to the landing page should be cohesive, and the content on the landing page should expand on the promises made in your ad copy. Consistency is key as it fosters trust and can increase conversion rates.

5. Data-driven decisions

Regularly analyze metrics like CTR, conversion rates, and CPC to uncover high-performing ads and identify trends that resonate with your audience. Study user behavior on landing pages and optimize for geographic and device preferences. 

Leverage keyword performance insights, adjust ad scheduling and glean competitor strategies to make the most out of your ad copy and harness all the valuable data available. 

6. Competitive copy analysis

Conduct competitor analysis to understand your competitors’ messaging in their SEM ad copy and how you can differentiate yourself. Identify gaps in the market that your ad copy can address, and offer a unique position that resonates with your audience.

 Create SEM ad copy that drives engagement: Proven tactics

1. Keyword insertion

Place the person’s search queries into the ad copy, to make it feel tailored to their specific needs. When you mirror the search query, the ad copy instantly resonates, which enhances relevancy and generates clicks. 

Corak explains that successful ads, “should incorporate keywords into the ad text to improve quality score and increase ad relevance with the user’s query.

2. Urgency and scarcity

Foster a sense of urgency with phrases like “Limited Time Offer.” This compels users to act fast to avoid missing out. Similarly, scarcity creates a fear of missing out (FOMO), which encourages the person viewing your ad to take action before the opportunity vanishes. 

You can incorporate this tactic by using phrases like “Act Now” or “Limited Availability,” to emphasize the urgency of the offer and spur immediate action.

3. Social proof 

Incorporate customer reviews, testimonials, ratings, or awards to establish your credibility and build trust with newer audiences. Social proof assures potential customers that others have had positive experiences with the product or service. 

4. Benefit-driven language

Focus on the benefits of your product or service rather than the features. This will resonate more with your audience’s needs and aspirations. Showcase how your product or service solves a problem or fulfills a desire, to demonstrate immediate value to users. 

5. CTA clarity

A compelling CTA drives users to take a desired action. You need to make your CTA clear, actionable, aligned with the user’s intent, and aligned with the landing page they will go to when they click. Incorporate verbs like “Shop Now,” “Get Started,” or “Download” to explicitly guide users on what action to take.

6. The questioning approach

Presenting a question in your ad copy to prompt the reader to think and engage mentally. This will drive curiosity and encourage them to seek answers by clicking on your ad. You can employ this tactic by framing a question that addresses a common user concern or taps into their interests. 

For example, if you are a travel agent, you could use copy such as “Searching for the Perfect Getaway? Discover Your Dream Destination Today! 🔍🌴”. The question “Searching for the Perfect Getaway?” taps into the person’s desire for a memorable vacation. The ad copy then seamlessly transitions into a solution by inviting users to “Discover Your Dream Destination Today!” 

Smiling designers having a brainstorming session in an office

Incorporate A/B testing for your landing page and ad copy for a strategic advantage over your competitors. (Image: Adobe Stock)

 Expert tips for creating outstanding ad copy

Your ads are competing for users’ attention. They’re being bombarded by Slack messages, emails, other ads, text messages, emails and more.

Your ad copy needs to be absolutely on point to catch their eyes. Here are some tips to ensure your ads stand a chance.

Corak tells us we should:

  • Use keywords in ad copy for a better quality score
  • Lean on unique value propositions (UVPs) to crush the competition
  • Add strong CTAs to encourage your audience to take action
  • Maximize the use of responsive search ad (RSA) assets to give Google the maximum number of possible combinations

 Empowering SEM ad copy stats

  • A/B test ad copy: You can A/B test even the smallest changes in copy. In a button A/B split test by Unbounce, they found that changing their button from “Start your free 30-day trial” to “Start my free 30-day trial” increased the CTR by 90%. Simply changing the copy from your to my had a huge impact on the CTR. 
  • Check your spelling and grammar: According to Agility PR, web visitors are 70% less likely to click on an ad if there are spelling and grammatical errors. 
  • Lower your costs: Google charges more for ads with spelling and grammatical errors. The same Agility PR study found that you will pay 72% more for ads with grammatical errors and 20% more for clear spelling errors.
  • Keep copy simple: If you write copy in a way that only MIT graduates will understand, you will alienate a huge part of your audience. In fact, Boomerang found that copy that is written at a third-grade reading level receive 36% higher engagement
  • Social proof is essential: Unbounce’s 2018 landing pages study found that landing page ad copy that includes social proof has a 1% higher conversion rate over those that don’t.
  • A/b test landing pages: According to HubSpot, less than 20% of marketers use landing page A/B tests to improve conversion rates. Incorporate A/B testing for your landing page and ad copy for strategic advantage over your competitors. 

The takeaway 

SEM ad copy is an ever-evolving landscape, and there are numerous tactics you can employ to optimize your ads. 

Embrace the art of crafting compelling ad copy, incorporating data-driven insights, and following the proven tactics above. As a result, your businesses can forge a powerful connection with your audience and elevate your campaign performance. 

In the realm of SEM, every click counts. Once you master the intricacies of ad copy, you will see how these small snippets of text can be the driving force behind remarkable success.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation