When an individual prepares to cast his or her vote, he or she will likely turn to Google for information ranging from where to vote to what a candidate has said about a specific issue. Getting your campaign in front of voters on Google is essential for modern campaigns.
One of the quickest, most effective ways to reach voters on Google is with search ads. According to data from HubSpot, when an individual is in a decision-making phase, paid ads get 65% of clicks.
Continue reading for more information on Google Search ads and how to maximize their effectiveness for your campaign.
What Makes Up A Search Ad?
There are three components of a search ad that your voters will see: the headlines, the descriptions, and a URL. Additionally, Google allows advertisers to add an extension to your ad with links to other important pages on your site, like an email signup, donation, or about page.
Here are the character limits for each element:
- Headlines (3) – 30 characters
- Descriptions (2) – 90 characters
- URL Path (2) – 15 characters
The headlines function as quick, attention-grabbing statements. The descriptions offer a voter more information or context. And the the URL path (e.g. johndoeforcongress.com/pro-life) sets expectations for clicking the ad.
Ad Rank and Quality Score
Google tries to show its users the most helpful ads possible. To determine whether to show your ad or not (and in which order), Google relies on an algorithm called Ad Rank, which is
“calculated using your bid amount, your auction-time ad quality (including expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience), the Ad Rank thresholds, the competitiveness of an auction, the context of the person’s search (for example, the person’s location, device, time of search, the nature of the search terms, the other ads and search results that show on the page, and other user signals and attributes), and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.”
Your ads also receive a Quality Score that is “an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions.”
Long story short, the more helpful your ads are to a user’s search, the more likely they are to be shown and at a cheaper cost.
Online marketing is a battle for every inch of screen real estate, whether that’s on a laptop or mobile phone. Use sitelinks to add more options for a voter to click on.
Voters turn to Google for actionable information like finding out who is on their ballot, where they can vote, or what a candidate believes about issues important to the voter. Your ad should help them solve their problem.
Ensure the ad is relevant by including the search phrases in both the headline, copy, and URL. For example, if a voter searches for “[candidate name] pro-life”, the most relevant ad would mention that your candidate is pro-life.
Simply running a generic ad on key search terms may save you time in the short-term, but it will lead to fewer clicks and higher costs.
Google searches are typically triggered by a specific prompt, like a mail piece, a conversation, or a news report on TV. Create ads to address the search queries caused by these triggers.
If your opponent uses the same line to attack your candidate, create an ad responding to that. Create ads using keywords or phrases from your TV and radio ads to help voters if they use those as prompts to conduct research.
Remember, you’re trying to be helpful. A dishonest ad isn’t helpful and it just wastes campaign budget. Conventional wisdom says you never repeat an opponent’s attack, but with a Google search, you know the voter is already aware of the attack.
This is a rare opportunity for your campaign to share additional context or set the record straight in the moment a voter is making up their mind about the race.
Have a Call to Action
Voters turn to Google to start their research and the links they see are jumping off points. Be explicit about where you want them to go next (your site!).
For GOTV ads, the call to action (CTA) can be “learn more,” “get a reminder to vote”, or “get the facts.” The more clicks your ads generate, the higher your Quality Score and the lower your costs.
Match Landing Pages to Ad Copy
Once again, remember that a voter was searching for specific information and received your ad. Your ad copy then set an expectation for them and they clicked on it. The landing page must deliver.
Your landing page should include the keywords and phrases that triggered the search. Not only does this increase the likelihood that a voter gets the information he or she wants, it improves your Ad Rank and Quality Score because Google indexes the landing page.
In the final weeks before an election, campaigns should devote significant budget to Google Search ads as voters turn to the search engine for last-minute research.