Anatomy of an AdWords Ad

The Pieces of an AdWords Ad

AdWords ads might look really simple, but there’s actually a lot to them! For example, here’s one ad, broken down into all its components:

Now, a lot of these components are optional, but including them helps performance.  Here’s a list of what’s in your typical AdWords ad, and a few tips for what to include:

Mandatory (in every AdWords ad):

Headlines – AdWords ads have two headlines, separated by a dash.  These must be included in every ad and can be up to 30 characters each.  Often, you’ll want to include the business name in one of the headlines.  If you’re a local business, it’s also a good idea to include your city or other local identifier.

Ad Copy Description – this is the main body of the ad.  It can be up to 80 characters long.  Typically, this is where you’d include your most important selling point and call to action. You want to include keywords in the ad copy too – these are bolded when they match the keyword someone searches (see above example where “dentistry” is bold) – so it makes your ad stand out and seem more relevant.

Display URL – the display url (in green in the example above) gives searchers an idea of where they’ll arrive after they click an ad.  It must include the domain of your final url (for example, if your landing page is, your display url needs to include “”).  You also have the option to add additional “paths” to this url, which further clues searchers into what they might see when they click the ad.  The “paths” come after the slash (“family” and “dentistry” are paths in the above image).  You can add up to two paths and they can be up to 15 characters each.  For example:

Final URL or Destination URL – this is the url the searcher lands on when they click an ad.  You don’t actually see this anywhere in the ad itself (but you do need to include it when you’re creating the ad in AdWords). This may be slightly different from the display url (because the display url is for show).  For example, a display url might be, while the final url could be something like

Optional (not mandatory, but can help performance):

Ad extensions are optional “additions” you can include in your ads.  These are important for two reasons:

  1. They factor into the ad rank calculation, which is what determines your ad position. Ad rank is calculated using your bid, your quality score and the expected impact of extensions and other formats.  In other words, ad extensions can improve your ad rank – which in turn improves your ad position.
  2. They can help improve your click through rate (which ultimately helps you achieve better quality score and therefore lower cost per click. Also – part of the point of running AdWords is to get clicks to your site, so of course you want to improve your CTR).

There are several types of ad extensions.  Not every ad extension will make sense for your business.  This is not an exhaustive list, but here are a few of the most common:

  • Site link extensions: Links that go to other relevant pages on your site.
  • Call extensions: Your phone number, or if you’re on mobile a click-to-call button
  • Location extensions: Your business address(es)
  • Callout extensions: additional unique selling points and callouts about your business.
  • Promotion extensions: promotions you’re currently running (must be % or $ amount off).
  • App extensions: links to your mobile app, if you have one


  • Updated January 23, 2018