Using Alt Codes in Ad Copy
Make the most of your SEM Headlines and
Ever since the year 2000 when Google launched AdWords, account managers have been trying to find ways to make the most of their ads, to make them stand out, to make them pop, to win the click‼
We each have our own ways and theories on the best way to make this happen, but in this post, I will show you that there are some really quite out-there ways to do this that you might want to play about with.
There are many more characters available than appear on the standard English keyboard, so to enter these we need to use what is known as an Alt Code. A great example of this is the humble hyphen. We (account managers) often find a good reason to use a hyphen in ad copy but did you know that by using an Alt code (alt-0151) you can elongate that hyphen to double its length? Here is a normal hyphen – and here it is when we use the Alt code version —.
The longer version is still only 1 character so it doesn’t rob you of ad copy space, it just makes your ads take up that tiny bit extra real-estate on the SERP. Using an extra-long hyphen is a neat little trick, but the real question is how far can you push this and still have ads that run? Well take a look at this sample ad that I published (and then paused once I had the screenshot) and you will see how far I was able to push it.
As you can see, I managed to push the boundary quite far with my Alt Code ad copy test. Most of what you see above has no real value and only serves to highlight how silly I was being, but there is some value there.
For example, we all know that we can’t use excessive punctuation in ad copy. We all know that we have one exclamation mark (!) that we can use per advert and this can only be in the description lines, not the headline. Well, take another look at the sample. By using Alt Codes in my ad copy I was able to use 5 exclamation marks in one ad, 4 of them were even in the headline. Alt Code (Alt-19) will deliver a double exclamation mark (‼) that only takes up one character in your copy.
There doesn’t seem to be any mechanism within the Google Ads platform to prevent this ad from being approved either. During my testing, I found many codes that could not be used in the H1, H2, H3, D1, and D2, so at some point, someone somewhere has clearly said “this code is ok, but that one is not”. The same however cannot be said for P1 and P2.
As you can see above, I chose to use 5 smiley faces and 5 gold stars but there were many other visual Alt Codes that could be used and were approved by the Google Ads platform.
I completed this exercise and wrote this blog primarily for two reasons.
1. I wanted to see what I could learn, as I wanted to know how I could improve my ads. I think the elongated hyphen is a really valuable tool to have.
2. I was quite bored
I, hopefully like you, value a clean SERP and the last thing I want to see is four ads above the organic running 20 exclamation marks and 40 gold stars on every search. As account managers, we need to be mindful of writing the best copy we can and not employing cheap tricks to win the click, but by all means, get out there and play about with it. Maybe you will find an Alt Code that I didn’t that is even more useful‼ Enjoy!
N.b the Alt Codes for the Microsoft environment and the Alt Codes for Google Ads Editor don’t always match up with the corresponding symbol.
I’ve worked in Advertising & Digital since I graduated from university in 2010. I spent 2 and half years working for Google in the UK where I fell in love with digital and creative work. I now run a great team here in Sydney doing great work.
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