Google AdWords Expanded Text Ads: 17 Best Practices to Maximize Your Results

In 2016, Google introduced expanded text ads, allowing advertisers nearly 50% more ad text to highlight their products and services and capture searchers‘ attention. But the new format also required rethinking ad creative and testing strategies.

Fast forward to today and expanded text ads (ETAs) are now the default in Google Ads. Advertisers have had a few years to experiment with the longer format and dial in what works. Whether you‘re launching your first ETA campaign or looking to optimize existing ads, these 17 expert-tested best practices will help you get the most out of your expanded text ads.

Headline Best Practices

The headlines are the most prominent part of your expanded text ad. With three 30-character headlines, you have more space to capture readers‘ attention and entice the click. These four tips will help you craft compelling headlines:

  1. Include your focus keyword, especially in Headline 1. Mirroring the user‘s search query reassures them your ad is relevant to their needs.

  2. Highlight your unique value proposition. What sets you apart from competitors? Maybe it‘s a special offer, wide selection, free shipping, or 5-star customer service. Feature your key differentiator(s) in the headlines.

  3. Deploy FOMO (fear of missing out). Phrases like "Limited time offer", "25% off – today only!", or "While supplies last" create a sense of urgency and encourage searchers to act now.

  4. Ask a question. Posing a question that addresses the searcher‘s needs can increase engagement. For example, "Need a plumber fast?", "Looking for affordable car insurance?", or "Tired of slow WiFi?"

Here‘s an example putting these strategies together:

"Fast & Affordable Plumbing | 24/7 Emergency Service | Need a Plumber Now? Call Us!"

Description Best Practices

The description field allows you to provide additional details and context to support your headlines. Use these tips to optimize your description:

  1. Expand on your headlines. The description is your chance to provide more information about your offer, product features, benefits, etc. Avoid simply repeating your headlines.

  2. Include a clear call-to-action. Tell the searcher exactly what you want them to do, whether it‘s visit your website, call for a free quote, download a coupon, etc. Use action-oriented phrases like "Shop now", "Get started", or "Sign up."

  3. Solve the searcher‘s problem. Empathize with the user‘s pain points and position your product or service as the ideal solution. Phrases like "Get relief from", "Say goodbye to", "Make ____ easier" show you understand their needs.

  4. Incorporate proof points. Elements like statistics, ratings, awards, guarantees build credibility and set you apart. For example, "4.8 stars on Google", "100% money back guarantee", "10,000 satisfied customers."

Description formula in action:

"Our expert plumbers are available 24/7 to solve your toughest emergencies. Get fast, affordable service backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee. Call now for same-day appointments!"

Display URL Best Practices

Expanded text ads also provide more space for your display URL. In addition to your root domain, you can include two 15-character "Path" fields. While these fields don‘t have to match your actual URL structure, they provide additional opportunities to highlight your offer and entice clicks.

  1. Include your keywords. Mirroring the user‘s search query in your URL further confirms your ad‘s relevance. Try to include your focus keyword in the display URL.

  2. Categorize your products/services. Let‘s say you‘re advertising different types of insurance. Use the path fields to specify which product the ad is for, e.g. "example.com/auto-insurance" or "example.com/life-insurance".

  3. Get creative with calls-to-action. The display URL is another spot to feature your CTA. For instance, "example.com/schedule-now" or "example.com/get-25-off".

  4. Use a credible subdomain. Sometimes the most relevant page isn‘t on your root domain. You can use a subdomain in your display URL to increase relevancy and credibility, e.g. "shop.example.com" or "offers.example.com".

Example Display URL:

www.abcplumbing.com/emergency-service/call-now

Ad Extension Best Practices

In addition to the standard components of your ETA, ad extensions provide even more opportunities to capture attention, highlight key information, and increase your ad‘s total clickable area.

Google Ads offers a variety of ad extensions – here are some of the top performers and tips for optimizing them:

  1. Sitelink extensions: Add links to specific pages on your site searchers may be interested in. Sitelinks can be a great way to highlight specific products, special offers, or key differentiators. Tip: Use compelling, action-oriented link text.

  2. Callout extensions: Callouts allow you to add short bullet points to provide additional information about your business and offerings. Highlight things like special offers, unique product features, shipping details, etc. Tip: Keep callouts concise and focused on a single detail or benefit.

  3. Structured snippet extensions: These allow you to showcase specific aspects of your products and services by selecting a predefined category (brands, courses, models, etc.) and listing items within that category. Tip: Choose the most relevant category for your business and use all available values.

  4. Call extensions: If generating phone calls is a key goal, call extensions are a must. They allow mobile users to call your business directly from your ad. Tip: Use a Google forwarding number to track calls generated by your ads. Include a call-to-action in your ad text as well.

Example ad with extensions:

Fast & Affordable Plumbing
www.abcplumbing.com/emergency-service/call-now
24/7 Emergency Plumbers. Get Fast, Reliable Service. Call Now!
Get $50 Off Your First Service. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Open 24/7 – Call Now For Fast Service
Trusted Local Plumbers Since 1990

Sitelinks:
– 24/7 Emergency Service
– Drain Cleaning & Repair
– Coupons & Special Offers
[email protected]
– (555) 202-5555

A/B Testing Best Practices

One of the biggest mistakes advertisers make with expanded text ads is "setting and forgetting." But even the best ETAs can be improved over time through regular creative refreshes and A/B testing.

Here are some key variables to test in your expanded text ads:

  • Headlines: Test different headline variants focusing on different value props, calls-to-action, keywords, etc.
  • Descriptions: Try variations of your description that expand on different benefits or features, or use different proof points.
  • Display URL paths: Experiment with different display URL paths to see which resonate best with searchers.
  • Ad extensions: Test different sitelinks, callouts, and other extensions. Even small tweaks to the link text or callout phrasing can impact performance.

To identify top performers, regularly check your ads‘ click-through rates, conversion rates, and other key metrics. Let each test run long enough to achieve statistical significance (usually at least 2-4 weeks depending on your ad volume).

Once you‘ve identified winning elements from your tests, implement them in your core ads. But don‘t stop there – continue iterating and testing over time to maximize performance.

How Expanded Text Ads Impact Quality Score

Another reason to prioritize your expanded text ads: Google has confirmed ETAs are a factor in your Quality Score. Quality Score is Google‘s assessment of the relevance and usefulness of your ads, and it plays a key role in your ad rank and cost per click.

Here are some tips to optimize your ETAs for Quality Score:

  1. Relevance is key. Make sure your ad text – especially your headlines – align closely with the searcher‘s intent. The more your ad matches what they‘re looking for, the higher your relevance.

  2. Use ad extensions. As mentioned, ad extensions provide additional opportunities to show searchers your ad is relevant to their query. Plus, they make your ad more prominent and clickable. Higher engagement = higher Quality Score.

  3. Focus on user experience. It‘s not just about getting the click. Your landing page should deliver on what you promise in your ad and provide a seamless user experience. A better post-click experience leads to better Quality Scores.

  4. Test and refine your targeting. Make sure your ads are showing to the right audience. Regularly check your search terms report to see what queries are triggering your ads. Add negative keywords to filter out irrelevant searches and refine your keyword targeting over time.

Expanded Text Ad Trends & The Future of Google Ads

Expanded text ads have been the default in Google Ads for several years now. But like everything in digital marketing, they continue to evolve based on new technology and changing consumer behavior.

One of the biggest trends with ETAs is the shift toward automation and dynamic ad creation. Google has introduced several new features in recent years like responsive search ads and automatically created ad suggestions. These tools use machine learning to automatically generate and test ad variations based on your existing ads and website content.

Google has also continued to add new ad extension types – most recently image extensions, lead form extensions, and promotion extensions. These provide even more ways to stand out on the SERP and engage searchers.

So what‘s next for text ads in Google Ads? We expect to see the trend toward automation and dynamically created ads accelerate. Advertisers will likely have the ability to provide "building blocks" of ad content (like headlines, descriptions, images) that Google will mix and match into optimized ad units.

At the same time, ad extensions will become even more prominent as Google finds new ways to surface relevant business information directly in the SERP. Structured data may play a larger role in ad creation and extensions.

But while new features and formats will surely emerge, the fundamentals of creating effective search ads remain the same. Understand your audience, highlight your unique value proposition, give searchers a compelling reason to click, and deliver a great user experience. Master those basics and then continue to test and evolve your approach over time.

Putting It All Together

We‘ve covered a lot of ground in this guide to expanded text ad best practices. Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Take advantage of the additional text fields in ETAs to highlight your key selling points, feature compelling calls-to-action, and incorporate your top keywords.

  2. Use every relevant component of ETAs, especially ad extensions, to maximize your presence on the SERP and give searchers additional reasons to engage with your ad.

  3. Don‘t just set and forget your ads. Regularly A/B test different variations of your headlines, descriptions, URL paths, and extensions to continually improve performance over time.

  4. Focus on ad relevance and user experience to improve your Quality Scores and make the most of your Google Ads budget.

  5. Stay on top of new ETA features and formats as they roll out. Automation and dynamic ads will likely play an even larger role in the future.

  6. No matter how ads evolve, keep searchers at the center of your strategy. Put yourself in their shoes, understand their needs and pain points, and create ads that offer real value.

Start putting these tips into action with your expanded text ads. Not sure where to begin? Try implementing 1-2 of these best practices in a new test campaign, then gradually roll out the top performers across your account.

By combining time-tested tactics with a commitment to ongoing optimization, you‘ll be well on your way to maximizing your results with expanded text ads and beyond.