PPC: The Use Of Language

No Comments » Written on March 11th, 2010 by
Categories: Copywriting

Yesterday, we took a look at Google’s related search function. If you haven’t come across this feature yet, give it a whirl, as it gives us a fascinating insight into the minds of search visitors.

More importantly, it reveals the patterns of language people use.

As you drill down through your chosen phrases, you should start to see specific patterns of language. Patterns might emerge in in form of questions, of doubts, of benefits, of price, of availability, and more. You can use these patterns to better understand your audience, and refine your campaign language to suit.

“Listen” Carefully To How People Use Language

How people say things is just as important as what they say.


Because one of the keys to a successful PPC campaign is to talk using the language of the customer. If the customer can see themselves in you, and your solutions, they are more likely to buy from you.

For example, you need to talk to a youth market differently than you would an elderly market. Language an elderly market may see as authoritative, a youth market may see as old fashioned.

It’s a generalization, but the elderly tend to respond well to voices of authority, so quoting qualified professionals is often a good idea when marketing to this group. Youth demographics tend to respond well to the voices of their peers, or people like themselves, or people who they aspire to be. To get the language right, you need to figure out exactly who you’re selling to. If your market doesn’t fit into a clear demographic, then research your competitors, particularly those who rank high on PPC for long periods of time, and see what language they use.

Focus Your Language On Customers Needs

The other important point is to address the customers needs.

For example, can you can spot what is wrong with this example of landing page text:

Our company has been trading for 26 years. We’re the world’s leading supplier of garden tools, and carry an extensive range from our chosen suppliers. Our founder, G R Holding’s motto was “Quality First!”. We’ve stuck to that motto….

Ok, cheesy – but the problem is obvious. The merchant talks a lot about themselves. They do not speak the language of the customer, nor do they speak to the customers needs.

How do we know what language the customer will respond to? One clue is the language used in the search query. Say the search query is “cheap gardening tools”. Would the language in the paragraph above appeal directly to the searcher? Not really. This visitor is motivated by price, not company longevity.

What the searcher needs to see is an ad that includes the words “cheap gardening tools”, and a landing page that features the term “cheap gardening tools” writ large. The language of the page must reaffirm the searcher has found the right place. From here, we could experiment with different layouts, perhaps showing various tools with prices in red crossed out and the discounts clearly visible. The language would orient around savings and bargains. We could add a clear call to action, moving the visitor through the sales process.


Whatever your demographic, these ten guidelines work well in PPC:

Repeat The Search Query – not only is this using the same language as the searcher, it also reaffirms they have found the right place. Repeat the search query in both the ad text and on the landing page.

Use “You” and “Your” – it’s not about you, it’s about them. Speak of their problems, their desires, and their needs. They don’t care about you.

Use A Crystal Clear Call To Action – use the active voice and use precise commands i.e. click here to…..

Be Factual, Not Arty – ad text and landing pages are not the places to get cryptic. Use simple, direct language. The visitor can easily click back if they become confused.

Your First Paragraph Is The Most Important – I tend to use a larger font for the first paragraph. Decide on the one thing you want to get across to the visitor if you only have a five second window of opportunity. Typically, that’s all the time you do have to encourage a visitor to read further! What is your visitors burning need? That’s your first paragraph. Remember to incorporate the word “you” or “your” whenever possible. Keep it short.

Write With The Customers Goal In Mind – this will help you to keep on track, moving logically from one concept to the next. You shouldn’t include any superfluous text or imagery that doesn’t support the customer achieving their goal.

Rewrite – copy is always improved by rewriting it. Two, three or four times…ten times, if need be. The aim is to remove the superfluous. To get across an idea quickly and effectively.

Sometimes, copy can be greatly improved by deleting the first paragraph entirely, and making the second paragraph the first. Chances are, your audience is way ahead of you. They don’t need the obvious spelled out, which often happens in first paragraphs, particularly those of first drafts.

If In Doubt, “Steal” – Ok, not steal, borrow 🙂 Look at the language your competitors are using. Are there similarities between them? What goal are they addressing? Have they clearly identified their target market? How can what they’ve done be improved upon?

Don’t Use Jagon – it tends to confuse. The exception is if your target audience is very familiar with industry jargon.

Be Specific – if the benchtop you’re selling is made of granite, say granite. Avoid vague language, like “a solid, enduring benchtop material”. Search engine activity tends to be specific, as opposed to vague, because people are forced to formulate a search query. That’s not to say all search phrases are specific – your target keywords should give you a clue about how specific the needs of your audience are.

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