How to Use Forced Bold Text in Google Search Ads

At times, it can be challenging to make your ads stand out from the competition.

Do you ever wish you could make your ads “pop”?

Now you can force text to display as bold in your Google Search ads.

Disclaimer: This does not appear to be an officially supported feature, use at your own risk.

To enable it, simply enter your text into and paste the output into your search ad.

Keep in mind that each bold letter will now occupy 4-character spaces of traditional ad text.

What Can Forced Bold Text in Google Ads Do for Me?

As you can see, it is pretty simple to enable, but what can it accomplish?

I delivered a statistically significant amount of ads in direct A/B tests to determine this.

In these tests, I ran identical copy, and landing pages against each other with bold text in one version, and not the other variation.

I set ad rotation to distribute evenly and used manual CPC bidding without enabling Enhanced CPC bidding.

This delivered an 11.3% overall increase in click-through rate and no measurable impact on conversion rate.

Some methods for forcing bold text were more effective than others.

When I tested the forced bold on what I considered to be key value propositions in description line one, the CTR impact was more pronounced, +19.4%.

Where Is Forced Bold Text the Most Impactful?

Some key benefits I observed are that the forced bold ads capture attention better than their peers when serving outside of the absolute top position.

I imagine this is because when you do not qualify for highly engaging ad extensions, the forced bold copy helps your ad stand out.

Another reason I believe the forced bold text effectively captures attention is that Google already, on desktop, bolds text in the SERP that is particularly relevant to your query.

I assume that this conditioning has helped people associate bold text in the SERP with relevance to their search.

What Does Forced Bold Do to Quality Score?

There is some uncertainty around how forced bold impacts quality score, as I am unsure how Google interprets the forced bold text.

In Google Translate, the forced bold text is not translated, however, if you try to force bold trademarked text that you are not authorized to use, Google will flag it.

I noticed that the cost per click tends to be higher (+15-20%) on the ads with a bold variation at launch. The CPCs normalize after a week or so of running.

This time frame depends on how much spend is put behind the ads, as I assume they have been normalizing because of the increased expected CTR that the forced bold ads incur as they run.

Furthermore, I believe it negatively impacts the initial quality score because of the following test.

I made two Ad Groups in separate campaigns that each targeted a single word exact match term.

This word was included multiple times on the landing page and was included in the ads as exclusively forced bold, or standard text.

Manual CPC was used for bidding, and enhanced CPC was turned off.

Google favored the standard text version, and initially gave the single keyword in that campaign a full point higher in quality score.

Closing Thoughts

Forcing text to display as bold in your ads can be a powerful tool for helping communicate your message to users.

It may not always make sense to use, but I have found it to be particularly useful in drawing attention to calls-to-action and unique value props.

Be mindful of the seemingly negative impact on quality score, and enjoy!

This tool also works on Facebook and Instagram ads, but not on Bing.

More Resources:

Image Credits

Featured Image: Jennifer Clotfelter
All screenshots taken by author, March 2020