Apr 192009

A good Adword campaign starts with a good headline. A great Adword campaign starts with a great headline. And knowing how to write great headlines is a very valuable skill in any business. The failure to understand how critical this skill can be is a huge mistake that we see from both Adwords newbies and professional Adword management companies.

Good keyword research and bidding skills may get your ad shown in a top ad position when someone does a search, but if you don’t have a compelling headline, you may be wasting a lot of money. On the other hand, you can have poor ad placement, ranking near the bottom of the page, but if your headline sticks out, then you will end up “stealing” clicks from your higher-ranking competitors.

So if you don’t know how to write good headlines, where can you start? Start by looking at some of the ads that appear when you search for your keywords in Google. Now, if you are a student of mine, you already know my philosophy about the top ad position. Hint: “The top ad position is not always the place you want to be, and the company advertising there, does not necessarily know what they are doing.” But there ARE instances when the top ads will have the best headlines. Look at those ads and pay attention.

Another method that I like is to use a research tool, such as Spyfu or Keyword Spy to see which ads of a competitor have consistently been in positions #4-6. Many times you will find that your competitor affords to rank lower because they have strong headlines that out-convert higher-ranking ads. Read those headlines and learn from them as well.

Also, it may be beneficial to look OUTSIDE of your industry for Adword headline ideas. How about a real (at the time of this writing) live example?

Let’s say I am writing an ad for an attorney and need an inspiring headline. I will now search for a babysitter to get ideas. So I just typed “need a babysitter” into Google and here is an incredible idea from an ad whose headline is: “Need a Local Babysitter?” I love the word “local”. I can now use the headline “Need a Local Attorney?” or write another headline that includes the word “local”. At the time of this writing, a quick search on “need an attorney” showed no ads on the first page using the word “local.” My ad would definitely stand out!

You may be wondering, “Can I steal headlines? Is that plagiarism?” There is no rule that says you cannot use the same headline your competitor is using. But you must remember, 99% of the time the advertiser is doing SOMETHING wrong. So if you are going to copy a competitor, I suggest you copy only what works. Sure, I like to look at competitors’ ads and take notes. I even recommend starting a digital “swipe” file, where you take headlines that you really like and copy them to a document and keep adding to that file for future reference.

There are many free resources on the web that can train you to write good headlines and we will cover some great headline-writing techniques in a later article, but the most important thing is that you recognize your return for investing time into learning how to write a great headline. If you can’t afford to invest your time, then hire a copywriter who knows how to write headlines and ad copy for search marketing ads. Many Adwords management companies also have specialists who are experts in writing headlines and ad copy that can turn otherwise so-so advertising into highly successful Google Adwords campaigns.

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