PPC – Should you put your Keywords in your Title?

By March 19, 2009 PPC No Comments

As most people would have noticed, when you type a query into Google, the search results will bold that query in the results they display. This is shown here where I have pasted the results of the query “PPC”.


The ads with your keyword highlighted certainly catch your eye. Traditional wisdom would say that the second ad from the top might not fare as well as the others, as it doesn’t draw the users attention like the other three ads do. Of course, this is a pretty bad example, considering that ad has been placed by Google.  Google actually has a few versions of their PPC ad, and so here it is again, but with the PPC in the headline


Which leads me to wonder – since traditional theory would say that having a bold keyword in your ad would result in better results, why wouldn’t Google always do this in their own ads? Maybe because…

  1. Traditional wisdom is bollocks, and actually not having the keyword there is a better differentiator.
  2. Google wants to play nicely against its ad-buyers by not being overly competitive (strange)
  3. Having the Google URL in your ad URL overrides any need for the traditional wisdom
  4. With acronyms, the spelled out version is interchangeable
  5. Google doesn’t put much effort into its own PPC campaign.

My own PPC accounts also go against this traditional wisdom. Campaigns that I am testing have sometimes shown that the most effective title is not a keyword rich one, but sometimes a branded one – even if the brand is not well known.

This could again be because of a differentiating factor. Or maybe because, although the relevance is not there, there is somewhat more dignity and less spamminess in a branded title.  E.g. if you type in something like ‘law firms’, you can see how a spammy name like ‘Best Law Firm’ might not win out. On the other hand, if you type in something like ‘cheap music’, you might not be too fussy about spammy looking ads.

Another factor you need to consider when putting keywords in your ad titles is whether your accounts are finely targetted. For example, the above ad from Google might be from a generic ‘PPC and pay per click’ account, where the keywords could be the acronyms or the full spelling. Whereas if you made at least two ad groups whereby the pay per click spellings show ads with that phrase, and the same idea for the acronym, then you could ensure that the correct version would show the boldened title.

If you have lots of products which it would be inconvenient, or ridiculous, to make individual ads for, then you might want to consider using Google Adwords Dynamic Keyword insertion. This way you can put a bit of code in your ads, and it would display whatever the search user typed into the query box. This can be good to target your ad copy, but could also look spammy if you are not careful in targetting your keyword list.  Misspellings in your ad, even if just a reflection of the query typed, can make you look unprofessional, or in this case, maybe look irrelevant.


So, while traditional wisdom might say it is a good idea to put your keyword into the title of your Ads, I would advise that as per usual it depends on your industry/business/product. You need to ask yourself:

  1. How do I want my ads to look?
  2. What will my differentiator be?
  3. Is branding more important here?
  4. Can I use dynamically inserted keywords effectively?

And then even after you have asked yourself all these questions, you still need to test, test, test.

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