[originally posted on Search Engine Watch]


Everyone knows the importance of testing and optimizing ads, yet no one seems to be doing it as often as they’d like to. A wise man named Bryan Eisenberg once said that successful companies run at least 30 tests a month (granted this includes landing pages too). Are you anywhere close to that? Would you like to be?


Now more than ever, it’s evident that people are starting to embrace a testing and optimization culture in their organizations, even though it’s rarely anyone’s single role or job. I’m still waiting to see a business card that says Jane Smith, Testing & Optimization Specialist.


With a myriad of tools and education available to us (often at little to no cost), what’s stopping us from testing and optimizing on a regular basis? Perhaps it’s because you don’t know where and what to test.

So if you don’t know where to start…

Test Where There’s Traffic

There are two upsides to testing in high-volume ad groups:

  • It will help you determine which metric to test for (CTR, CPI, etc.).
  • Your tests will conclude a lot faster. And when they do, you can take what you learned or elements you’ve found successful and disseminate them across your entire account.

How About What to Test?

What may sometimes seem like a simple 90 – 130 characters on the surface is actually a daunting combination of a whole bunch of different elements you can test.



Let’s look at six top elements you can focus on testing.

1. Strong Headlines

Headlines are usually the first thing a searcher looks at, so always make sure you use a strong one.

In one recent test, the same exact body and URL of an ad remained the same, but the headline changed from “Does your CTR Suck?” to “Your CTR Sucks.” The result? A 52 percent increase in click-through rate.

2. Test Benefits vs Features

There is, of course, no doubt that your product/service is great because of all the features you’ve built into it. But sometimes, searchers are less interested in a list of awesome features, and more interested in what these features can do for them.

Testing can show you that more people clicked on an ad with the words “Get Ripped” rather than an ad that said “12 workout DVDs”.

3. Differentiate Your Offer

Sure, we’ve all got competitors. But the fact that you’re still in business is a strong indication that you’re offering something better or different.

In the real world, your competitors don’t stand directly on top or underneath you but on a SERP, they do. Make sure your ads stand out by highlighting that differentiating factor.

Do you have the best customer service? Do you offer free shipping? Lowest price guarantee?

4. Speak to the Pain Points of Your Audience

PPC is a demand fulfillment process. People are searching in order to solve a problem or fill a need. If you reinforce that pain or need in your ad, it’s an indication that you have a strong understanding of what it is, and your product or service can truly solve it.

For example, if you run a split test for a local and “very casual” dating site, which ad do you think will perform better: an ad that says “find and chat with locals” or another one that says “get a date tonight”?  The one that cut to the chase.

5. Include Keywords when Appropriate

Dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) can be your best friend, so use it when appropriate but don’t abuse it. Mirroring keywords in your ads creates a tighter and more relevant search experience and increases your chances of winning more clicks.

6. Include a Strong Call to Action

We all know the importance of including a call to action, but we don’t often think about testing different or stronger ones. A recent split test for a travel booking site saw an increase of 259 percent in CTR when switching their call to action from “save time” to “save and book”.


On a final note, please realize that your ads are always beatable. Even when you run tests and see great improvements, have faith in yourself that you can still beat that great ad with an even greater one.


So there you have it. Six different elements to get you started on your ad testing and optimization journey. Want more? Ask in the comments and you shall receive.