What is a Google Text Ad? Essential Guide


Why should every digital marketer learn how to create a Google text ad?

Text ads, also known as search ads, appear on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) and in other locations throughout the Google search network. Presently, Google is the most popular search engine, processing almost 6 billion searches per day. Advertisers that use Google text ads as part of their PPC advertising efforts gain access to this enormous audience and the ability to target their ads based on the search queries or keywords that users type into Google.

If you’re new to PPC advertising, we’ve created this essential guide to help you start using Google text ads to promote your products and services online. We’ll explain what a Google text ad is, how the ad format is defined, Google text ad setup and basics, and how to create ad copy for your text ads.

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What is a Google Text Ad?

Here’s what Google has to say about the definition of a Google text ad:

“A text ad is a form of marketing communication that advertisers can use to promote their product or service on the Google Network.” (Source)

The Google Network mentioned here is really two networks: the Google Display Network, which supports image- or video-based banner ads, and the Google Search Network, which exclusively supports Google text ads.

You can view examples of Google text ads yourself by visiting the Google search engine, entering a search query of your choice, and scanning your results for text advertisements. 

google shopping ad example

This search for yellow running shoes returned four different types of results. The red box contains a Google text advertisement for the Puma shoe brand. The blue box contains Google image results. The orange box at the bottom contains organic search results from major online retailers. The green box on the right contains Google shopping results from a variety of online retailers.

google text ad example

SERPs can contain more than one Google text ad, like this one for the search query “cloud hosting” which contains three text ads in the red box.

Advertisers can customize their text ads to target specific keywords or search queries on the network. When a user enters a targeted search query, Google calculates a metric called Ad Rank to determine which advertisements will be shown to the user. Ad Rank depends on advertiser bid amounts, auction-time, and overall ad quality score (based on landing page experience, expected click-through rate, and relevance).

Keyword targeting allows advertisers to target audiences with relevant text ads when they’re actively searching for a specific product or service, thus increasing the probability of a click-through and a downstream conversion. Google bills advertisers based on the number of clicks they generate using the PPC advertising business model.

Google Text Ad Format Explained

Now that we’ve explained how Google Text ads work and you’ve seen a few examples, let’s review the standard format for text ads on the Google network.

google text ad format

Caption: Desktop view of the basic template for a Google text ad.

mobile google text ad format

Caption: Mobile view of the basic template for a Google text ad.

Google won’t allow advertisers to run ads that don’t fit these formatting guidelines, so all online advertisers must figure out how to fit their desired marketing message into the character allotments that are provided. Here’s how it works:

For each text ad you create, you’ll be able to include three headlines and two descriptions. You’ll also be able to create a display URL for your text ad by creating path text that will appear after your domain name. Text ads include two fields for path text. Google imposes strict character limits for each of these components as follows:

Text Ad Component Character Limit
Headline 1 30 characters
Headline 2 30 characters
Headline 3 30 characters
Description 1 90 characters
Description 2 90 characters
Path Text 1 15 characters
Path Text 2 15 characters

While advertisers are encouraged to make the most of their character allotment, Google will not show all three headlines, and both descriptions each time one of your ad placements is triggered. Depending on the user’s device, Google may show either all three headlines or just your first two. Google will try to show all 180 characters of your description, but a part of it may be cut off to fit the user’s device.

How to Create a Google Text Ad 

Before you can create a Google text ad, you’ll need to finish setting up your Google Ads account. You can start the process by visiting the Google Ads homepage.

Once you’ve finished registration, you’ll be able to access the Google advertising platform and create your first search advertising campaign. You’ll need to create a search advertising campaign and at least one ad group before you can create your first text ads.

create google text ad

When you reach step three of the campaign set-up, you’ll discover Google’s ad creation interface where you can start writing your text ads.

google text ad setup

Google recommends that you create three distinct text ads for each of the ad groups you target in your campaign. 

In addition to writing your headlines, descriptions, and path text, you’ll be able to specify a final URL – the web address of the landing page where audiences will be redirected after clicking on your advertisement. You can use the ad preview tool on the right side of your screen to preview what your ad will look like when it appears for your audience on their search results.

How to Write More Effective Google Text Ads

Professional marketers spend years learning how to create ad copy that produces more clicks and conversions from their target audiences in paid search advertising. Here are just a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Include a strong call to action that directly asks your target audience to click on your ad.
  2. Include your target keywords in your ad copy to make your ads seem highly relevant to the user’s search.
  3. Use your headlines to grab your audience’s attention by appealing to their biggest pain points.
  4. Create and optimize landing pages that align well with your ad and deliver on its promises.
  5. Pay attention to any changes to your ad quality score.
  6. Offer something exciting or valuable that encourages your audience to investigate further by clicking on your ad.
  7. Create multiple text ads for your campaigns and compare their performance. Experiment with different Google text ads in your marketing efforts and measure results to see which ones work the best.

Check out our in-depth course at Directive Institute for a more comprehensive look at how to create effective ad copy for the Google search network.


Google text ads are among the best ways for marketers to connect with online audiences who are genuinely interested in the products or services they have to offer. Along with skills like keyword research, landing page design, and audience targeting, learning how to create effective text ads will empower you to build more profitable and successful advertising campaigns.

Garrett Mehrguth is the CEO and co-founder of Directive Consulting – a global search marketing agency headquartered in Southern California specializing in comprehensive search marketing campaigns for B2B and enterprise companies.

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