PPC

When To Break PPC Ad Copy Best Practices

Much like the pirate code, the best practices we have for writing paid search ad copy are more like “guidelines” than actual rules.

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The best practice for ad copy writing tells us that we should be sure to include ad group keywords in our ad copy. The benefits of doing so include: bolding the keywords when the ad is shown (to capture user attention) and increased relevance (which can help with Quality Score and CPCs.) With such great benefits, why would anyone ever, in their right mind, break the code? Well, there are a couple of reasons…

Reason 1: Because You Want to Stand Out

Ad copy best practices are blogged about ad infinitum across the industry leaders. Chances are, most of us are reading the exact same tips and adapting our ads based on the results reported to us.

What ends up happening is that advertisers end up sticking their keywords into their ads, which use up valuable characters. The end result is that a lot of ads end up looking nearly identical, especially if you’re advertising a popular branded “me-too” product that’s already hard to differentiate.

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So What Can You Do?

PPC advertising is still advertising. And part of advertising is making something that is creative and gets your brand to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes to do that, the best choice is to buck the best practice code and write an ad that might appeal to the audience more than the ad channel. You can also still include your keyword in the display URL, in order to still get the bolded keyword to show.

Reason 2: Because You Can’t Follow Ad Copy Best Practices

There are some situations where you won’t be allowed to use your keywords in your ad copy. If you’re running a competitor campaign, chances are you don’t have your competitor’s permission to use their name in your ad copy. This can also happen if you resell products but don’t have the clearance to use the brands you sell in the copy.

So What Can You Do?

Here, again, is an opportunity to stand out by being creative. You’re bidding on keywords you can’t possibly use in your ads, so play to your strengths. Use your ads to showcase what makes you better than the competitor the user searched for, or why they should buy from your store instead of any of the others that sell the brand you also sell.


Best practices are best practices for a reason. There are tons of blogs with data that definitely support the inclusion of keywords in your ads, and, in many cases, you definitely should follow the code. However, for those times that you can’t or shouldn’t, remember that you’re still an advertiser and will sometimes need to break the mold to get your conversion.

Weigh in below and let us know what you think and what you’ve seen in our own tests. Yo-ho!

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