Optimize Google Ads headlines with these 11 expert tips

Published Jan 2 2024 8 minute read Last updated Jan 2 2024
Google Ads headlines optimizer
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  • Thomas Frenkiel
    Written by Thomas Frenkiel

    Thomas has over 10 years of marketing experience. After working in media and SEO agencies for 8 years, he joined Funnel in 2022.

Imagine this: you've just spent hours crafting the perfect Google Ads campaign, pouring in all your creativity, hard work and expertise. You sit back, satisfied with your efforts, and wait for the results to pour in. However, days go by and the ad still shows poor performance. Click-through rates remain low and conversions even lower.

So what went wrong? From poor ad relevance and low campaign budgets to ineffective keyword selection, there are a lot of potential culprits to investigate. If you rule out these primary causes in your preliminary assessment, it's worth evaluating a commonly overlooked aspect of Google Ad campaigns — headline optimization.

Headlines are your first opportunity to make an impression on your potential customers. In just a few words, they have to grab attention, pique interest, and help convince the viewer to click on your ad. That's a lot of pressure for just 30 characters!

This article explores the art of crafting effective Google Ads headlines. With assistance from our in-house digital advertising expert Pontus Strandell, we've compiled eleven essential tips to transform your headlines from average to outstanding. 

For a more comprehensive look at creating effective Google Ads campaigns, complement your reading with our detailed guide: Google Ads Optimization 2023.

11 tips for Google Ad headlines

Google's ad network reaches over 200 million digital destinations (e.g., websites, email, apps). With 90% of internet users being exposed to Google Ads, it's difficult to understate the power of this extensive ad network. But how do you make sure your headlines stand out among the countless ads we're all constantly exposed to online? 

Mastering headline creation for Google Ads goes beyond clever wording. It involves crafting an entry point that grabs attention and resonates with your audience's desires. The ideal headline is a mix of relevance, engagement, and intrigue that leaves the viewer wanting to know more. 

So without further ado, let's dive into our eleven tips for optimizing your Google Ad headlines.

1. Align the ad copy with the landing page

The first and foremost tip for optimizing your Google Ad headlines is to ensure they align with the landing page that users are directed to. Picture this scenario: your headline teases one experience, but the landing page offers an entirely different one. The consequences? The trustworthiness and credibility of your ad take a nosedive.

How frequently have you clicked on an ad, only to land on a generic page that bears no resemblance to the ad's tantalizing promise? The headline touted "50% off all shoes," yet the landing page displayed only a scant few discounted pairs. 

Such a bait-and-switch maneuver may indeed drive clicks, but it's also the fastest route to high bounce rates. Even more dire, it can trigger negative reviews and be viewed poorly by Google's ad placement algorithm, leading to lower ad rankings.

To address this, craft your ad copy and headlines so that they line up with the landing page. Also, be sure to clearly highlight the same offer or promotion in both the ad and the landing page. This will help to avoid any confusion or disappointment for the viewer. 

2. Use the keywords that are in the ad group

You should always try to incorporate relevant keywords from your ad group. Using these keywords in your headlines can make your ad's relevance soar and potentially lower your cost per click (CPC). 

This is because Google's algorithm favors ads that closely match the user's search query, leading to a higher quality score and improved ad placement. A WordStream study revealed that ads with high-quality scores could experience up to a 50% reduction in cost per click compared to those with average scores. 

For optimal use, these keywords should be directly related to your products or services. This approach not only enhances your ad's relevance but also appeals to customers actively searching for your offerings. However, be wary of overusing keywords in your headline to avoid a spammy impression that could repel users.

Consider incorporating long-tail keywords, which are longer, more specific phrases. These can help you target a more defined audience and increase conversion chances. For instance, use "women's running shoes" instead of just "shoes." Additionally, keep updating your negative keyword list to filter out irrelevant search terms, thus boosting your ad's overall performance.

3. Consider using keyword insertion

Another tactic to enhance your ad's relevance is to use Google's keyword insertion feature. Keyword insertion operates as a real-time chameleon within your ad text. It enables the automatic replacement of predefined placeholders with the actual search terms employed by users triggering your ad. By automatically personalizing the ad's relevance, you'll likely experience elevated quality scores, increased click-throughs, and superior ad placements.

Take, for instance, the implementation of keyword insertion in the ad text: "On the hunt for {KeyWord:women's running shoes}?" If a user searches for "women's hiking boots," the ad headline will automatically change to reflect their search query. This approach is particularly useful for businesses with a wide range of products or services that cater to various needs and interests.

4. Incorporate a call to action

A well-defined and enticing call to action (CTA) in your advertisement can significantly boost conversions, improve click-through rates, and enhance the overall efficacy of your campaign. Think of the CTA as the final push that encourages users to take action after being intrigued by your ad's content.

An effective call-to-action (CTA) strikes a balance between being instructive and appealing. It can guide users with phrases like 'Discover More', 'Buy Now', or 'Join Us Today', while also creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity through words like 'Limited Offer' or 'Exclusive Deal'. The key lies in crafting CTAs that are both compelling and persuasive, encouraging users to take the desired action.

5. Use AI tools to come up with different headline versions

We've all been inundated with non-stop coverage of how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is shaking up industries across the board, and its impact on content creation is no exception. According to recent insights from Funnel, about 42% of marketers have already integrated generative AI into their content strategies.

From Koala and Jasper to ChatGPT, AI-powered content creation tools are becoming a staple in digital marketing. While some marketers remain hesitant to rely entirely on AI for full-length articles, there's undeniable utility in using these tools for specific tasks.

A prime use case for AI tools is in generating a range of headline options for your ads, facilitating quick production of diverse and creative options suitable for A/B testing. This approach not only saves time but also increases the chances of finding that perfect headline that resonates with your audience and enhances conversions. It's crucial, however, to treat AI-generated headlines as a base, refining them to align with your brand's tone and message.

6. Mention the USPs of your company, service, or product

Your ad should effectively communicate what makes your service or product unique — its Unique Selling Points (USPs). This goes beyond just listing features; it's about capturing the core of what you offer. Highlight what sets you apart, whether it's innovative technology, exceptional customer service, or unbeatable prices. Let these key aspects be the stars of your headlines. 

For instance, if you're running a chef-curated meal delivery service, rather than settling for the ordinary "Meal Delivery at Your Doorstep," opt for something more evocative like "Gourmet Creations by Local Chefs." This isn't just a nod to convenience; it's a spotlight on the quality and personalized touch of your service.

7. Use both emotional and rational tonality

Your headline should appeal to both the emotional and rational sides of your audience. While some may be swayed by logical arguments and numbers, others respond more to emotions like excitement, fear, or happiness. Use a mix of both in your headlines to appeal to a wider range of potential customers or hit the same person from different angles. 

A headline that tugs at emotions, such as "Embark on Your Dream Career," can inspire and uplift. On the flip side, a logically structured headline like "Cut Your Energy Bills in Half" presents a practical and tangible benefit that people can easily understand and appreciate. Whichever approach you choose, take the time to study your audience's needs, motivations, and preferences.

8. Tap into the strength of your brand

Your brand is more than just a logo and color scheme; it's the soul of your company. It speaks to who you are, what values you uphold, and how you differentiate yourself from competitors. By integrating your company's name or brand message into your headline, you create a potent connection with your audience.

For example, a headline like "Level Up with Nike" not only incorporates the company's well-known brand name, but also conveys a powerful message of ambition and excellence that aligns with Nike's brand identity. 

However, this tactic thrives most when your brand has firmly established itself. Emerging brands should consider channeling their efforts into building brand recognition through other marketing avenues before leveraging brand strength in their headlines.

9. Test and optimize for CTR

Perfecting Google Ad headlines is an ongoing process of experimentation and fine-tuning, aiming for the highest possible click-through rate (CTR). Central to this endeavor is A/B testing, where you create multiple headline variants and track which one attracts the most clicks.

When conducting A/B testing, adjust just one element of the headline at a time. This could be the wording, the use of keywords, the overall tone, or the call to action. This methodical approach helps you gain clear insights into what really appeals to your audience. For instance, you might test headlines like "Secure Discounted Travel Deals" against "Explore Wallet-Friendly Travel" to determine which is more effective.

It's important to recognize that different segments of your audience may react differently. Continuously analyze your performance data and adjust your headlines to align with the preferences of your target audience. Tools such as Google Ads Performance Planner can help forecast how your changes might affect performance, guiding you to make more informed decisions.

10. Avoid repetition

To make your Google Ads headlines stand out, it's crucial to avoid the trap of using repetitive and mundane language. Repetition can make your headlines seem uninteresting and easy to ignore. Focus instead on creating each headline with a unique and varied choice of words.

Rather than relying on near-identical phrases like "Cool sunglasses for sale," "Stylish sunglasses for sale," and "Shop our stylish sunglasses," introduce a breath of fresh air into your headlines. This could give rise to headlines such as "Sunglasses For Sale," "Discover Your Ideal Frames," and "Explore Our Exclusive Collection." This strategy ensures that each headline is lively and adds its own distinct touch to your advertising message

11. Utilize the full character limit

Google Ads allows for up to 30 characters per headline in most cases, offering an opportunity to convey your message with both precision and impact. Strive for descriptiveness within this limit, ensuring your ads elucidate what users can anticipate upon clicking.

Avoid filling up space with unnecessary words just to reach the character limit. Focus on creating clear, engaging headlines that make the most of the available space without overdoing it. The key is to balance informativeness, brevity, and creativity. You want to craft headlines that not only grab attention but also convey your message clearly.

Google ads headline examples from Funnel

Building on our earlier discussion, let's examine some practical examples from our campaigns at Funnel. These examples illustrate how the tactics above can be employed to create engaging and effective headlines.

Example 1: Direct CTA

  • Headline: "Recommended Marketing Tool - Get Started With Funnel"
  • Analysis: This headline is a stellar example of incorporating a straightforward call to action. The phrase "Get Started With Funnel" is an invitation, encouraging immediate engagement. The preceding phrase "Recommended Marketing Tool" adds a layer of credibility, indicating that Funnel is a trusted and recognized tool in the marketing domain.

Example 2: Creating curiosity

  • Headline: "Funnel - Discover Better Data"
  • Analysis: This headline employs intrigue to draw the audience in. The word "Discover" invites users to embark on a journey of exploration, implying that there is new and valuable information to be gained. "Better Data" hints at the improvement and superiority of the data that Funnel provides, appealing to those dissatisfied with their current data solutions.

Example 3: Positioning the product

  • Headline: "Funnel - Mission Control for Your Data"
  • Analysis: Here, the headline cleverly positions the product as an essential tool for data management. The term "Mission Control" evokes a sense of command and comprehensive oversight, suggesting that Funnel offers users total control over their data. This can be particularly appealing to professionals who want to streamline their data analysis and management processes.

How to write better Google Ads headlines

Crafting compelling Google Ads headlines is a nuanced art, balancing creativity with precision to capture attention and convey messages succinctly. Key to this craft is a deep understanding of your audience's needs, desires, and pain points. Incorporating elements like storytelling can make headlines more engaging, while simplicity prevents message dilution. 

Remember that crafting the ideal headline isn't a one-time task. It involves constant refinement, guided by ongoing data analysis and feedback from your audience. By staying attuned to your customers and continuously analyzing your results, you'll eventually find the perfect balance between intrigue and clarity that drives clicks and secures conversions.

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