While Google AdWords lets you create both text and image ads, the vast majority of AdWords ads are text-only. And it's not a lot of text, either.
An AdWords text ad consists of just four short lines of text. The first line is the headline or title, with a relatively short character count. The next two lines contain the body of the ad; these line are longer than the title, but not by much. The final line of the ad is the URL of your website.
That's it. Four lines: Title, copy, copy, URL. How can you make such a small footprint generate the maximum number of clicks back to your website?
Grab Attention with the Title
The most important part of any text ad is the title. There are two reasons for this.
First, like any headline, the title is the first thing that people see when they scan the page and see your ad. Second, it may be the only thing people see, as some ad formats on third-party pages (not on Google search results pages, fortunately) display only the title and URL, skipping the two description lines in between.
The title of your ad, then, has to do the heavy lifting; it has to grab potential customers at a literal glance. You can then fill in more details in the next two lines, but the title must be able to stand alone if necessary.
A good title will draw people to read the rest of the ad, while a bad headline will turn them off completely. It needs to attract the attention of potential customers and compel them to click the ad to get more information. I like to think of a good title as the online equivalent of a carnival barker, shouting "Click here, click here!"
Of course, an ad's title needs to inform people of what you're selling or trying to accomplish. It has to be informative, and tie into whatever it was the user was searching for. If the user searched for "banana," then you should incorporate the word "banana" into the title. This means using the keyword you purchased in the ad's title, along with some sort of modifier or additional information — "Free bananas," "Bananas On Sale," "Buy Bananas Today," "Best Bananas in Utah," or some such.
Beyond conveying basic information, your ad's title should also trigger specific customer behavior, in most instances a click through to your chosen landing page. How best to do this?
The most effective way to compel the desired action is to use words that grab the reader's attention, such as "free" and "sale," "new" and "more," "discover" and "bargain." These words cause users to read the rest of the ad or click the headline to learn more. They're powerful, magic words.
What you don't need to do is use complete sentences and proper punctuation. You have 25 characters to work with, so you can't waste a single one. Ditch the title-ending period, eschew use of superfluous exclamation points, and make every character and word count.