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Jaclyn ShyptyckiDec 14, 20215 min read

The Anatomy of a Google Search Ad [with Diagram]

So, you've heard about Google Ads (or Google Adwords, as they used to be called), but what the heck are they? Do they "work"? How much do they cost? How hard are they to create and manage? Do I even need a marketing agency or can I do it on my own?

All of these questions will be answered for you shortly.

First, let me set some expectations and not waste your time. There are many ways to advertise with the almighty Google, but this article concentrates on "search-based ads." If you are already an expert, then you can skip this article and get back to those Bird Box memes you love. For those of you not familiar with search-based ads, here's a quick example. 

If you were to go to Google and search "I want a puppy" (because who doesn't), then here's what comes up. 

google search ad example

Those top two results are Google Search Ads. Notice the little green box that says "ad." This is exactly what we will be talking about.  Now, some of you with eagle eyes may have noticed the sponsored images to the right; yes, these are ads, just not the ones we will be talking about today. 

A Whole New (PPC) World

When you decide to create a Google Ads account and start advertising for your business, you are deciding to learn a whole new world of marketing: Pay-Per-Click (PPC). What comes almost immediately after that decision is A LOT of Googling. One of those searches might have led you here, and if you're thinking "Please, please just tell me how to make a Search Ad," well then, you're in luck... 

Google offers you a platform where you can target insanely specific audiences, in any location, at any time, and almost anywhere on the internet you can think of. Your friends may call it creepy, but we call it genius (with a little bit of creepiness).

The average person comes into contact with thousands of advertisements every day. So you've seen the ads, and you may have even clicked on them. But now it's your turn to become the mastermind and create some of those ads yourself. 


Not sure if Google Ads is right for you? Or not sure if you can create ads that will draw new business to you? Check out these success stories about businesses that have used Google Ads to grow.


Although Google offers different forms of ads like Display, Video, Shopping, and more, let's start slow and focus on getting the most out of Search Ads. 

Writing Your Ad 

There is a lot that goes into developing a Search Ad campaign, but let's say you have already set up your campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and targeting. It's now time to start crafting your Search Ads. Search Ads are all text with some tricky restrictions, so it's time to get crafty. 

Your ad has to be eye-catching, scroll-stopping, and click-worthy, all while following these guidelines and best practices: 


  • Use high-volume keywords in your headlines 
  • Use proper punctuation 
  • Use top keywords in your display URL path fields 
  • Use top keywords in your descriptions 
  • Capitalize the first letter of each word in the ad 
  • Stay within specific character limits for headlines, descriptions, and paths
  • Enable site-links for the campaign or ad group 
  • Enable call-out extensions 
  • Enable call extensions 
  • Include the most important message in the headlines 
  • Write ads that speak to users on all devices 
  • Include a clear call-to-action in the description

In the end, you will have a well-constructed ad that looks something like this: 


As you can see in the diagram above, the anatomy of a Google Search Ad can include:


  • Multiple headlines
  • A display URL & paths
  • An ad description
  • Snippets
  • Call-outs
  • A call extension
  • An address
  • Sitelinks & sitelink descriptions

Increase Performance By RE-WRITING Your Ad

That's right; you are going to have to re-write your ads often if you want to get the most out of your investment. The thing with Google Search Ads is that you can't just set it and forget it. Instead, you will have to monitor and re-adjust regularly.

Of course, it's a possibility that one of your ads may do so well that you don't need to improve upon it. But at the same time, there are going to be some ads that don't perform as well, so you will either have to base new ads off that one gem of an ad or use your creativity to come up with some new and improved language for your Search Ads.

Think of it this way: if you constantly try to make your ads better, you'll provide a better customer experience to your audience before they even become customers. You'll be helping the people who need your product or service find the solution they're searching for. In addition, the more you improve your ads, the more people they'll reach and the less they'll cost. 

Staying Strong 

Google Search Ads may seem overwhelming to you, and MANY feel the same way, but believe it or not, it does get better (better, but not easier). This is why you have to stay strong and move forward. It DOES get better because you will start to realize what works and what doesn't work. You will get more efficient, so it will take less time to manage your ads, and you will eventually be able to navigate the entire platform better.

It doesn't get that much easier, however, because you are still competing against everyone else in your industry. Sometimes you will completely strike out with your ads, but that's okay. Everyone experiences some level of difficulty with this platform (and if they say they don't, they're either lying or they're someone you need to become BFFs with). 

Also, keep in mind that Google is the puppet master here and decides the rules of the games. And from time to time, just when you get comfortable with their platform, they will roll out a new feature or change the algorithm, and you will need to learn it all over again! 

But remember, now you have this handy-dandy help article and a diagram that breaks down the anatomy of an ad. We hope that they will help you to create your best Search Ads and become a player in the PPC game. Ready to take on Display or Video? Stay up-to-date with our latest tips and tricks by subscribing to our monthly newsletter. 

[Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 14, 2019 and updated on December 14, 2021.]


Jaclyn Shyptycki

SIX Marketing