A/B Testing for Pay-Per-Click Ads

Pay-Per-Click advertising is an essential component to many online marketing initiatives. With a large percentage of a business’ marketing dollars are usually designated to these campaigns that enhance the chance of your target audience finding you, it’s wise to test them regularly for their effectiveness. The great thing about A/b testign ppc campaigns is there aren’t as many variables to test. In this article I’ll briefly discuss how to effectively use a/b testing to your advantage in terms of PPC ads.


What to Test?

As mentioned before, you’re a/b testing for ppc campaigns is limited to the following four elements:

The Headline:

What the user will click. The headline should be between 4-5 words and include a targeted keyword.

The Body Text:

Similar to the description of your site, the body text explains what you’re offering. If, for example, your website offers a free whitepaper to download, let the user know this by including “Download our free whitepaper today!” This method is proven to drive conversions. If that is what you’re after, give it a try.

The Link:

The link is where you designate the user to arrive at once clicked and is as important as the text on the ad itself. Do you want your ad to link to a landing or product page? Alternately, you can have it link to a site designated for your ppc campaigns.

The Keywords the Ad Displays For:

Obviously some keywords convert better than others. Run multiple tests and determine which work the best for you. Once they’re established, turn your attention to them.

Of course before you begin any a/b testing endeavor it’s important you do your research and develop keywords and phrases your customer might use when searching for your product or service. Once you have the variables to test, you can then schedule different tests to run. For instance, if you have four possibilities for body text and four for your headline, you can run six tests.

Creating the Test

Google Adwords makes the process of conducting a/b tests as simple and intuitive as possible. You already have developed keywords in the last section, now choose 3-5 top performing keywords in setting up your test. You can then:

1. Create another ad concept: If you’re already established, this is the way to go. Make changes to your headline, text, or url in determining which the user responds to favorably.

2. Develop two new ad concepts: If you want to start fresh, this is a great way to go. You’ll have two entirely different concepts to determine which works.

Discover What Works For You

To get a better idea of what works and doesn’t, conduct your own search for something service-related such as ‘house-cleaning.’ Take a look at the sponsored ads and determine which stands out the most to you. Why did you pick that ad over the others? Doing your own evaluation lets you step back and gives you the consumer advice you can then apply to your own ppc campaigns.


While there are a number of variables that factor into a successful ad (bid, placement, quality score), a/b testing is a simple way of finding out why your ad may not be getting the attention you’re looking for. Through an in-depth analysis of the components listed in this article, you’ll be closer to creating PPC campaigns that match the needs of your user while meeting your goals in the process.

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