Just think about these phrases for a second:

  • “Top Rated _____ Only”
  • “Performed by Doctors”
  • “3 Easy Steps”

OK. So, those phrases ought to be pluses when it comes to PPC ads.  But in every case, these phrases were sub-par performers because the ad writer didn’t take into account context and connotations.

Top Rated vs. Pre-Screened


Take, “Top Rated ____ Only,” which in this case was “Top Rated Chiropractors Only.”  The problem is the entirely subjective, unfalsifiable nature of this claim:

  • By what means are you classifying the listed Chiropractors in your system as “Top Rated”?
  • And what happened to the non-”top rated” Chiropractors?  Did you turn them down or de-list them?

It’s not like you’re talking about Top Rated Cell Phones or something, whereby the reader would assume the ratings come from technical specifications, user reviews, editor reviews, etc.  How do you rate a Chiropractor, exactly?


And understanding the context for the words allows a great writer to come up with a better phrase, one that creates a much more credible and pointed mental picture:



“Pre-Screened” implies that some chiropractors were screened out and turned down.  Add that to “5-Star Chiropractors Only” and you have now implied the standard by which your Chiropractors were screened: the user reviews with which the phrase “5-star” is now powerfully associated.



Performed by Doctors vs. Non-Surgically


Now let’s take a look at “Performed by Doctors”


Normally “Performed by Doctors” is associated with “Official Western Medicine” and “Requiring Medical Supervision” and such.  This is good if you want to add credibility to your claim.  So “Medically Supervised Weight Loss” can be a good thing, if you’re claiming some impressive pounds-per-week results.


But the associations that go along with that are: “expensive” and “very serious.”  And that means that this is NOT a phrase you want to combine with just any medical or health solution, which is why dropping the phrase entirely ended up boosting the Click-Through Rates for this Acne Scar Removal ad:




If half your appeal is “Non-Surgical” then you don’t want to talk about “Performed by Doctors” because that phrase emotionally contradicts all the benefits implied by “Non-Surgical.”  Again, these phrases are colored by context!

3-Easy Steps vs. “in 2 Minutes”


“3 Easy Steps” normally indicates ease of use and an uncomplicated user interface.  But if you’re talking about automated software, you sort of hope that launching the software will be the only step you need.  Especially when it comes to “speeding up your computer/mac”


In this instance, “in 2 minutes” communicates ease of use far more effectively than “3 Easy Steps.”  Even more importantly, “Most Trusted” becomes more important than “easy to use,” as most people don’t want to sacrifice reliability for speed.




So as you can see, the winning ad dumped “3 Easy Steps” for “Most Trusted” but kept “In 2 minutes.”


So what phrases might you need to reevaluate for your PPC Ads?  How can you use context to strengthen, rather than undermine, your overall message?