How to Write Winning Responsive Search Ads on Google Ads

August 4, 2022
Posted in Paid Search
August 4, 2022 Jen Lopez

How to Write Winning Responsive Search Ads on Google Ads

On June 30, Google Ads retired Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) and updated Search campaigns to only utilize Responsive Search Ads (RSAs). This change is unsurprising, as Google has been shifting more to automation and machine learning to help advertisers improve their campaigns overtime.

No longer will 3 headlines and 2 description lines suffice in ad copy. Now, as PPC marketers, we are challenged with creating up to 15 headlines and 4 description lines per ad – so that Google may use their automation to test which variations perform better. While it’s not required to use all the available headlines or description lines when creating an RSA, without doing so, you are less likely to have your Ad Strength graded as “Excellent” by Google, which can impact your ad rank and average CPCs.

If the shift over to RSAs has been challenging for your team, we’ve collected some tips to help get the wheels turning. After all, so many copy lines in one ad, and understanding all the mix-and-match capabilities of the ad can make it a challenge to really get creative.

  1. Use Strong Calls to Action – While this is not new, the point of an ad on Google is to motivate searches to interact with your business in some way, and you should be very clear with what that desired action is within your ad. Use clear and specific calls to action (CTAs) like Call Now, Book Today, Shop Online Now, or similar phrases. Feel free to put CTAs in both your headlines and description lines, so long as they make sense if the lines were to be shown together in the same single ad unit. Having too many CTAs throughout a single RSA can be confusing to the searcher if they were to appear all at the same time.
  2. Write Description Lines as a Complete Sentence – One issue with RSAs occurs when marketers try to have copy flow from one description line to the next. Because Google can show your description lines in any order, this can make your ad much more confusing than intended. To write a better RSA, you should aim to make each description line a separate thought and sentence with proper punctuation. Unless you are pinning description lines in a specific order, they must all need to stand-alone but also make sense when served together.
  3. Pin the Most Important Parts of Your Ad – Google will ding the Ad Strength score from Google for every “pin” you add to a RSA, i.e. always show in an ad and in a certain position. Despite this, don’t be scared to use this tool because pinning is important. For many of our clients, we chose to always “pin” the brand name as the first headline in our ad. Without pinning a brand name, we could see our ad show for a specific query, but not mention our brand based on the combination Google selected. What a waste! When users see your brand name, it creates a form of noticed or unnoticed brand awareness, even if they don’t click on your actual ad unit. While Google will ding you for the pin, the benefits of ensuring the brand name shows up in the first headline outweigh the penalty.
  4. Use Multiple, Popular Keywords in Your Headlines and Descriptions – Before you begin crafting an ad, really take a look at the keywords that make up your adgroup and try to work them into the ad copy. If you have run the adgroup for some time already, you may also consider looking at the Search Terms report as well to find keywords to add in. We typically aim to incorporate at least 3 popular keywords into our headlines and 1 or more popular keyword into each description line. If you are building the ad in the Google Ads engine, you should be able to see the Ad Strength score updated as you create your ad, and if there is enough data, Google Ads may also provide potential keywords to integrate into your ad. Another option, is to use Google’s Keyword Insertion tool in your RSA. However, with so many variables already being tested at once, our team doesn’t use this tool often.
  5. Add in a Stat – Though definitely not required, our team has found that adding in numeric values or stats can often take an ad from boring to thought-provoking. Especially if it’s in an unexpected industry where stats aren’t often shared. For example, a small burrito joint may use the stat “Rolling Up More Than 15,000 Burritos Per Year”….like weird, right? It might feel out of place, but, I might want to try one of those burritos if that is more burritos than I would expect a small local restaurant to make in one year. Anything that makes a searcher stop and think can really earn your clicks.
  6. Initial Cap Your Ads – We can’t tell you how many times we see even the closest-managed accounts using sentence case in their ad copy, or a mix of title case (initial cap) and sentence case – which is even worse. However, in our own tests, plus many others reported by companies like Wordstream, title case almost always improves CTR in Google Ads. While we use this as a standard in our accounts, we always love tests and recommend testing it for yourself if you think sentence case might be better for your brand.

We hope you’ll use our tips above to create winning ad copy. If you have any questions about the change from Expanded Text Ads to Responsive Search Ads, drop our team a line!