Adwords: The Importance of Description Line 1

September 1st, 2014 / Martin Sprong

The Search Engine Result Page (SERP) consists of paid and unpaid search results. Paid search results can be divided into Top Ads and Bottom Ads.

Google generally displays – for competitive terms – four (4) Top Ads, and three (3) Bottom Ads on the SERP.

The focus of this article is on ‘Top Ads’ and the impact Description Line 1 has on ads. Understanding the impact of Description Line 1 for your ad is critical to optimising CTR.

**For the purposes of this article, we have discounted Page Rank and Brand as factors on CTR, as both are more important than the attributes that form the paid search result.

Example of a SERP


Ads are formed by a Headline, URL and Description Line. Often, ads also include different Extensions and Callouts. Of these attributes, Description Line 1 is usually the most important factor on CTR.

The reason why Description line 1 is so important, is because it is often placed next to the Headline, forming the extended Headline.

Factors Influencing CTR

Since most of us tend to read from left to right, the Headline – as distinct from Description Line 1 hypothetically – should be the most important factor on CTR. However, it appears size, and how the Headline is framed, overrides our initial hypothesis. Description Line 1 is up to 35 characters, whereby the Headline is up to 25 characters. Additionally, Description Line 1 in the Headline often includes the Call-to-Action. We believe these two factors are the key reasons why Description Line 1 is more often than not the most important factor on Click-Through Rate in Adwords.


Adwords Preview

When you fill in the Headline component in Adwords you are allowed a maximum of 25 characters. However, if you appear as a Top Ad the Headline can be up to 60 characters. How?

If Description Line 1 in your ad appears to be a distinct sentence and ends with the proper punctuation (e.g. a period, a question mark, or an exclamation mark), then Description Line 1 will be moved to the right of the Headline separated by a hyphen (e.g. Headline = Headline + Description Line 1).

Description Line 1 As Headline

Hence, you can create a longer Headline and have more characters to target your message, to motivate people to click through to your website.

Description Line 1 gives the advertiser multiple options to display the ad. It also has ten (10) characters more than the Headline, which creates room for a more appealing message.

Composition of the Characters

Description Line 1 & 2 in Adwords are limited to 35 characters each. However, if Description Line 1 is moved next to the Headline and, for example, it uses only 20 characters, then the remaining 15 characters can be used for Description Line 2.

Adwords Best Practice

Include Domain name

If Description Line 1 is NOT a distinct sentence; then Description Lines 1 and 2 will be placed as one long Description beneath your URL. Adwords will then place the domain name of your website next to the Headline (e.g. “Headline” – domain name). See the example below:

Description Under URL


Some advertisers are creative in how they display their Headline. Other Advertisers don’t want Description line 1 to be in the Headline, and many are not even aware of the possibilities within Adwords.

You know your objectives and marketing plan better than us, so questions to be asked include: “What do you want to advertise in the Headline of your ad?”

Are you offering a product or service? Promoting a new deal? Do you use Adwords for branding purposes? If you know what and why you are advertising on Adwords, it makes it easier to decide how you want to display your ad.

We are not presumptuous, and believe that in Adwords, or any form of an advertising or marketing campaign, there should be hard rules to follow. And therefore, we provide below two general principles or recommendations to act as a starting point in launching your ad within Adwords.


If you are offering or promoting a product or service to new or prospective customers, and the keywords targeted are generic to your business category, we recommend placing Description Line 1 next to the Headline.

Description Line 1 then forms part of the Headline, and this extended Headline displays what you offer.

Use Calls-to-Action to persuade people to click through to your website. Our research has shown that Description Line 1 on balance, has the most significant impact on CTR.


Starting up a business or branding a product? If the keywords behind your ad are your brand name or associated words, we recommend leaving Description Line 1 under the Headline and let Adwords place the domain name of your website next to the Headline.

The name of your website will then be more prominent, which may assist your branding strategy.

Domain in the Headline

Note! You never have full control of how your ad is displayed, as often Google will adjust the ad format to match user expectations.


Briefly, the first thing you need to do is make sure your bid is competitive. After that, write quality ad copy that resonates with the search query. You won’t get a top position if your ad copy does not have a comparably higher CTR than its competitors. Finally, optimise and ensure a high Quality Score, which indicates that Google likes your ad. Your landing page should be crawlable, and should reflect your ad content.

We hope these recommendations get you started on the right track, but remember: continually testing your ads is vital to ongoing and sustained success. Predikkta allows you to undertake a turbo-charged version of A/B Testing, enabling you to test 1000’s of ad combinations of the Headline, Description and URL in one survey, going straight to the apex of what people want.

Test in hours 1000’s of combinations of your ads in a Predikkta Survey and find out which combination of phrases make the best complete Headline.

This post was updated on 1 May 2016.


Get more out of your Adwords campaign by extending the Headline. When you use the proper punctuation, Google allows you to have a longer Adwords Headline.

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*Predikkta has sourced several external independent global tools to analyze websites.These tools do not reflect on occasion the internal website analytics, but are recognised global tools and provide accurate comparative results for measurement against competitors.

**The views in this article are those of the author