“Speak to the dog, in the language of the dog, about what’s important to the dog”

— Roy H. Williams


The very first rule of good PPC Ad Writing involves SCENT — people look for information online like dog’s searching for food: they follow one scent trail until it leads to food or stops. If it stops, they then go back to the beginning of their search to pick up another scent trail to follow.


When people search on keyword terms they are expecting results that carry the same “scent” as the keywords they put in. In other words, your ad has to match the search in terms keyword usage. This is why the default headline for most ads involves mirroring back the search terms, and one reason why Dynamic Keyword Insertion can work so well for headlines — it allows the ad to mirror back the exact terms used by the searcher.


But keywords aren’t the ONLY thing that carries scent, and good ad writers have to deal with these other factors, too.


And what are these other factors?


  • EXPECTATIONS
  • CONCERNS, and
  • CONNOTATIONS


People can conduct the same search with different motivations, and therefore markedly different expectations. Given two ads with equally good keyword scent, the ad that best matches the motivations and expectations of the searcher will win.


Also, even if people have similar motivations, they can have different levels of concerns regarding the product or service they are shopping or the information they are seeking. Two ads with the same level of keyword scent and same reflection of motivations can perform radically differently if one better addresses key concerns than the other.


Lastly, there’s word usage. If the language your ad uses better reflects the natural language of the searcher, than your ad will outperform a competitor, even if her ad equals yours in terms of keyword, motivation, and concern-related scent.


Given all of that, is it any wonder why the winning ad won in the contest below?




Of course not. The winning ad better reflected keyword scent in the headline by exactly matching the keyword term, while the losing ad only approximated the keyword. So there’s an advantage on keyword-related scent.


The winning ad also addressed Do-It-Yourselfer concerns regarding ease of use, calling the blowers “Reliable” and “Easy.” The losing ad addresses no such concerns. So there’s an advantage on concern-related scent.


And the winning ad also uses easily understood terminology for describing the performance of their blowers (2500 lb/hour) vs. jargon (Force 1 2 3 & Wasp). So there’s an advantage on CONNOTATIONS.


That’s three strikes and you’re out for the losing out which was outperformed by the winning ad by a mighty 126% — more than doubling CTR


So remember, make sure your ad talks to the searcher (via keyword match), about what matters to the searcher (via expectations & concerns match), in the language of the searcher (via words with the right CONNOTATIONS), and your ads will outperform the competition.