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Marketing | Apr 16
Elise Dopson on July 6, 2020 (last modified on July 14, 2020) • 22 minute read
But it’s rare to achieve any if you’re not generating clicks.
In most cases, people need to click your advertisement in order to receive value and, subsequently, generate value for your business.
You can judge how well you’re doing that by monitoring your Google Ads click-through rate or CTR.
So, what is it and how can you improve it? We’ll cover all that (and more) in this report.
Before we dive in, let’s be clear on what click-through rate (CTR) actually means.
“CTR is simply the ratio of people who click on your Google Ad when they see it,” Hamna Amjad of Heart Water explains.
“It calculates the number of clicks vs. impressions across your campaign, or for each individual keyword. Having higher click-through rates drives more traffic and improve your Quality Scores (which lowers costs).”
We know what a click-through rate is.
But if you’re looking into your dashboard, how do you know which is a “good” result–and which campaigns need tweaking?
We found that most marketers consider a “good” Google Ads click-through rate to fall somewhere between 3% and 5%:
However, Adam Inglis says Digital Chimp “average 10% across all our campaigns.”
Sebastien Godin of Performance Marketers explains why there’s such a big discrepancy between these best practices: “A good Google Ads CTR depends on a lot of things, especially which type of keyword you’re bidding on. For example, on a branded campaign, you can easily get 50%+ CTR.”
But, Tommia Hayes of Community Health Charities adds: “For nonprofits who qualify for the Google Grant, like my organization, [it should be] anything over 5% because that will keep your account from being suspended.”
You can find the CTR of your Google Ads campaigns in your reporting dashboard.
Head to the Keywords tab and hit “Search Terms.”
Below you’ll find a list of keywords you’re bidding on, alongside the organic CTR for each:
But, the beauty of these templates is that they’re all customizable. That means you’ll be able to see the following CTR-related metrics all on one screen:
Keeping an eye on each of these metrics helps make sure your Google Ads don’t waste budget. For example, you might have a keyword with a CTR of 40% in the same Ad Group as one with 3%.
It makes sense to switch off the poor-performing one in favor of the one getting the most clicks, right? It’s a much better way to spend your budget.
If you’ve looked at your Google Ads click-through rate and found it’s below average, don’t panic.
We asked our experts to share their best tips for improving Google Ads CTR. That included:
Take a look inside your Google Ads account and you’ll see tons of other data points alongside your CTR.
Some of these metrics impact your CTR, though–including Quality Scores.
“The quality score is a metric that ranks your keywords,” says Tommia Hayes of Community Health Charities. “This score predicts how the keyword is relevant to your ad and scores the quality. The higher the quality score, the higher your ad will rank on Google.“
“This will help with a higher click through rate because your ads are shown earlier in searches and are more likely to be related to the keywords being searched.”
Chris N of Tenscores.com explains: “Quality Score can be defined as a measure of your CTR against your competitors. When CTR is better than your competitors’ CTR, you’re rewarded with 10/10 Quality Scores.”
“This is the reason why you brand terms always get the highest Quality Scores and bidding on competitor terms often get you the worst Quality Scores. Your competitors can’t get a better CTR than you on your brand terms, just as you can’t have a better CTR on their brand.”
Summarizing, Chris Gadek of AdQuick says: “The most important thing you can focus on when setting up Google Ads is improving your Quality Score, which is computed by the popularity and the actual chances that you’ll rank for your selected keywords.”
“I think one of the techniques to effectively increase CTR is to make sure to set up multiple ad groups for your specific market when setting up your campaign,” writes Elle Brown of Nihaojewelry.
“The default setting is ‘Users located in or interested in your specified geographic location,’ which means that people outside your market may see your ads. But we generally choose to change it to ‘Users in the geographic location you specify.'”
Brown explains: “Setting up multiple ad groups based on different regions is more targeted and more accurate in targeting people.”
Datis Mohsenipour explains: “At Outback Team Building & Training, we were able to increase the relevance of our ads and our CTR in a scalable manner by leveraging geo-targeted ad customizers.”
“By applying this at a campaign level, we are able to customize our ads to automatically include the name of the city that they are searching from or including in their search term.”
“As a result, we’ve witnessed a 6% CTR rate across the campaign with longer-tail keywords seeing CTRs ranging from 20-50%,” Mohsenipour summarizes.
Budget is likely to be top of mind when you’re running Google Ads campaigns.
However, Filip Silobod of Liwu Jewellery recommends to “increase your budget amount in Adwords” to improve your CTR.
“We saw an increase in CTR and positions after increasing budget. It’s a strong positive signal to Google. You don’t necessarily need to spend that budget,” Silobod adds.
A keyword’s search volume tells you how many people are searching for that phrase each month.
It’s easy to dive in with targeting the most popular terms. You want more people to see your Google Ads, right?
But WinSavvy’s Adhip Ray explains: “Keywords that have low-to-medium clicks but high conversions can skyrocket your conversions, and the competition will be far lesser than if you go for keywords with high traffic.”
“Also, keywords with high search traffic but low conversions are basically high priced useless duds. You will get hits but won’t be able to sell to your customers. For example, the keyword “how to make your own toothpaste” does not have the search intent of buying toothpaste.”
We already know that budget is important when you’re running Google Ads campaigns. But, there’s a marketing channel you’re likely already using to understand keywords: SEO.
“My top tip would be to use SEO data to find particular keywords that perform well in regards to CTR and aim to use those in your ad copy,” says Luke Davis of Adzooma.
“If you can gain more SERP real estate in the paid and organic listings, you’re sure to improve your CTR and boost conversions.”
*Editor’s note: Find the SEO keywords you’re ranking well for, and those generating the most organic clicks, with this Keyword to Pageview dashboard. Consider adding those to your Google Ads targeting list:
“One of the most common mistakes new advertisers make is the use of the broad match option,” Hung Nguyen explains. “You don’t want your ad to reach as many people as you can; you want only to present them to the most relevant users.”
“To further narrow down the pool of the most suited users, you can add negative keywords to prevent certain users from seeing your ads.”
“For example, for Smallpdf (an online PDF software), we omit any keywords that include “offline software” to prevent users from seeing a product they may not need.”
That’s why Blake Sherman of SL Development also recommends using “negative keywords to weed out irrelevant search queries. This makes sure the search ads are lining up to your campaign’s search intent and the user’s search intent.”
You’ll have the option to use different keyword matching options once you start bidding on a specific keyword.
PupDigital‘s Daniella Pozzolungo recommends to “use match types to increase the specificity of your search keywords.”
“Broad match modifiers (signified by a + before each word, +example +keyword), phrase match (signified by quotation marks encompassing the full keyword, “=”example keyword”), and exact match (signified by brackets encompassing the full keyword [example keyword]) increase the specificity of your keywords.”
“The more specific, the more relevant your search will be to searches,” Pozzolungo adds. “This, in turn, should increase the CTR.”
Summarizing, Alejandro Rioja of So Influential adds: “The various keyword match types for your ad campaign also impact your CTR, so choose wisely. Selecting ‘broad match’ will trigger your ad to a wide audience, while ‘exact match’ will reach a specific audience only.”
“One tip that has been beneficial is utilizing keyword insertion to improve ad copy for a better CTR,” writes Tyson Bell of Octiv Digital.
“This feature allows the ad to dynamically change from the advertisers set copy to a phrase the user is actually inputting into their Google search.”
Bell explains: “For example, the copy for an ad may be written to say “homes for sale.” However, with keyword insertion, that same ad may be written to show the user an ad that contains a specific city they are searching for plus “homes for sale.”
“This allows Google to change the ad copy to a specific search from the user, which they are in turn more likely to click on as it is will now mirror the exact search query.”
“It may sound obvious, but an easy way to increase your CTR is to complete your ad,” says Online Team Building‘s Jeremy Cross.
“I’ve found that many business owners and marketers that are new to Google Ads do the minimum setup, which might include a title, description, and URL. But if you put in the extra work to add multiple headlines, ad extensions, and similar, you will see both a measurable increase in CTR and also more qualified traffic from those ads.”
One of those elements is the display URL–something ServGrow‘s Tim Denman thinks should include your target keyword: “This increases the ad’s relevance and drives CTR. Essentially, you are telling your audience that it’s not another clickbait, and they will get precisely what they expect to get.”
Nikola Roza agrees “because it makes them look more relevant to the person who’s trying to decide where to click.”
“People online are in a hurry and the last thing they want to do is click on an irrelevant result that can’t help them solve the problem they’re having. Having the keyword in your URL tells them your result is exactly the one they need. So, they click.”
“There are so many ways you can improve your CTR, If I have to choose one, it would be a compelling ad copy that stands out,” says SurveySensum‘s Girdharee Saran.
“When it comes to ad copy, most advertisers focus on inserting the keyword. But you should rather ask a question that directly addresses the intent.”
“For example, if you are running an ad on the keyword ‘electrician services,’ rather than saying ‘Best Electrician in [location],’ try a headline “‘Looking for the Best Electrician in [Location?].'”
Plus, Rick Wallace of Tackle Village says: “We find this boosts CTR through creating a sense of intrigue (‘Want to fix SEO issues the easy way?’) and also creates a sense of empathy with the particular problem the reader wants to resolve. This leads to more clicks for a given expenditure.”
“We often find that a great way of improving click-through-rate in Google Ads is to include numbers in your ad headlines,” says Vixen Digital‘s Sean Carroll.
“This could be something like adding a percentage in your ad copy. Perhaps ‘10% Off Online’ or ‘100% Recyclable.’ Whenever we have performed ad copy split-tests for our clients, we have almost always seen much better CTR on the ad variations that include a numerical value.”
Caleb Wynne of Wynne Digital adds a simple way to do this: “Include a countdown timer in your ad copy. This creates a sense of urgency for users. Furthermore, as it’s dynamic it stands out from competitors’ ads.”
Plus, Greg Bookes of Kettlebell Workouts says: “If a potential customer decides to check on the ad later, chances are that they may never see that ad again. So, you need to create content that will inspire the viewer to click right away.”
Romantific‘s Samantha Moss agrees: “The most effective tip that I have seen in improving CTR in Google Ads is by adding countdown timers on them.”
“Aside from offering sales and discounts, give your target audience the sense of exigency into adding timers so that they can be pressured into availing or at least, checking-out your offers. In our kind of industry, we use this strategy to avail new customers by offering free consultations within a limited period of time.”
“Consumers are brand conscious,” says Matthew Heyes of Backpacker Job Board. “It makes sense that they trust the brands they know, but it turns out that merely the suggestion of authority and reputability can have a positive effect on a consumer’s perception of brands they don’t know.”
“You can exploit this fun fact of psychology by ensuring that the appropriate trademarking and copyrighting appears in your Google Ad.”
Heyes explains: “If your brand or product is registered, copyrighted or trademarked, be sure to put the appropriate symbol next to the appropriate word in the heading or description. This can underline your legitimacy, which can lead to inherent trust, which can see your click-through rate improve.”
There’s no doubt that your Google Ads copy is important.
But “to get a higher click-through rate on our Google Ads we make sure to insert action words such as ‘check’, ‘get’ or ‘try,” Pigtail Pals‘ Jesse Chet says.
“In almost all cases, using action verbs allows us to achieve a better CTR.”
“In our experience, including emojis in Google Ads can dramatically improve CTR,” says John Ross of TestPrepReviews.com.
“We’ve experienced 3% increases in CTR for our Google Ads when an emoji is included. The catch is that sometimes Google will deny an ad if it has an emoji in it.”
Ross continues: “It seems Google’s policy on emojis in AdWords has oscillated over time, but generally, we’ve had pretty good success on getting emojis into Google Ads. Try putting an emoji in your next Google Ads campaign and watch the CTR jump.”
When we asked for CarMats.co.uk‘s best tip to improve Google Ads CTR, Ash Young’s answer was simple: “Relevance. Ensure your ad is super, super, relevant to the user’s search.”
“If you’re prepared to segment your market and tailor your messaging, then you’ll see far better engagement.“
Young explains: “An example from our industry (car mats), other companies might just focus on ‘ford fiesta car mats’, however, a proportion of people are super-specific and include their trim level in their query (e.g. ‘st line’).”
“We target these people with relevant ad groups, keywords, and ad text (e.g. ‘ford fiesta ST line car mats’ and are rewarded with increased CTR and quality scores, for example, we saw CTRs jump from nearly 20% to in excess of 40% by applying this approach.”
Again, this goes back to the relevance of your ad, as Alan Gruntz of BarkleyREI explains: “By keeping keywords separated, you’re able to write ad copy that speaks directly to the searcher’s query.”
You can do this with Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs), as Buffalo 7‘s James Robinson explains: “Don’t follow Google’s advice when setting up your account and have 20+ keywords in each group. Have one keyword (and very similar variations).”
“If you only have one keyword in your Ad Group, let’s say [red shoes] then your ad copy can focus entirely on that. When someone searches ‘red shoes’ and they see an ad that says exactly what they searched, they’re way more likely to click it than they would if they see an ad for ‘Women’s shoes’ for example.”
“SKAGs will almost certainly increase your CTR if you’re not using them already,” Robinson adds.
Marcus Schneider of again&again explains: “Someone searching with a longer word query (i.e. ‘what brand makes the most comfortable jeans?’), typically has a higher purchase intent than someone searching with fewer words (i.e. ‘men’s jeans’). They have a better idea of what they are looking for and care enough to enter a longer search term on Google.”
“With this higher intent comes a higher likelihood of clicking the ads that appear. Do this by using brackets “[ ]” around your keywords to only show ads for exact matches.”
“Just make sure the ad copy is specific to the keyword. That will ensure people searching your exact keyword realize the ad is relevant to them,” Schneider adds.
“A great way to boost your click-throughs is to take advantage of ad extensions,” according to David Shell of Tradesmen Costs agrees.
“By adding site links and callouts you can tailor your ads to be more relevant to your potential customer, which in turn could lead to better performance. Local small businesses, such as builders or electricians can take advantage of using the location extension so potential customers can see that they’re nearby, again, leading to higher CTRs.”
Pixelstorm‘s Paula Glynn explains: “From sitelinks to appearing on Google Maps, Ad Extensions will gain you more real estate on the Search engine results page and can significantly increase click-through rates.”
“As a pro tip, ensure you are setting up all the different Ad Extension options and adding descriptions to the sitelink extensions.“
That’s why Ryan Scollon also says: “My one tip for improving click-through rate is to make the most of ad extensions. Not only do they allow you to add more information to your ads, they also appear much bigger when you have ad extensions enabled.”
“In some cases, ads with extensions can be double the size of ones without.”
According to Jonathan Aufray of Digital Growth Hackers, “having a powerful and convincing CTA is essential to improve your Google Ads CTR. You need to include a CTA in your copy.”
“I know a lot of marketers, content writers, and copywriters who write a well-explained description but forget to include a CTA.
“When working on their Google advertising account, we review their messages and include a strong CTA. We can see an increase in CTR immediately almost every time,” Aufray adds.
Beekeeper‘s Alexandra Zamolo explains: “Simply announcing a sale or the roll-out of a new product is not enough to draw the proper attention for a click.”
“Be blunt, with a ‘click here now’ or an ‘enroll today’ or ‘sign up now.’ This clarity can encourage a viewer to do exactly what you’re asking without a lot of thought.”
When writing your Google Ads descriptions, Ameet Khabra advises to “highlight pricing in your ad copy.”
“What I have found is that by qualifying users before they click through to the website has helped with improving CTR because the user knows what to expect and it has also has helped improve conversion rates because, again, the user knows what to expect.”
According to Venngage‘s Aditya Sheth, “the easiest way to increase your Google Ads CTR is to first identify your competitors. Who’s competing with you for the keywords you’re targeting?”
“Secondly, look at their ads using a tool like SEMRush (there are plenty of competitor ad snooping tools, Google them) and use the language from their ads in your own.”
“Chances are your competitors have already A/B tested various ad variations, and what you currently see is probably their highest-performing variation yet,” Sheth explains.
“All you have to do skip the rigorous testing and simply imitate their ad copy (not word for word of course). Easy peasy.”
“I believe testing is your best option when it comes to content because it’s hard to guess which benefit or trigger the audience will respond most to,” writes Stacks Market‘s Mostafa Yasser.
“Just add multiple ads and let Google decide which of your ads is performing better for you.”
Ariel Farzan agrees, and advises to “constantly test. Specifically, different ad types. A contributing factor for a low CTR is wrong ad placement. Sometimes, the ad is not where your customers are.”
“There’s no way of knowing whether your target audience will click on an ad unless you test different ad types. What you think will work for your audience is not necessarily what will work for them. With that being said, it’s highly crucial to always test different ad types.”
John Reinesch explains how they do this at Beacon Digital Marketing: “We will have 3 ad copy variations per ad group and as soon as we have enough data for statistical significance we will pause the losing ad, keep the 2 winners, and create 1 new ad variation. This allows us to continually challenge our top ad copy and drive up our CTR over time.”
Sebastien Godin of Performance Marketers summarizes: “You can A/B test your ad copy (and your value proposition) in order to find which message gets a better response from your audience.“
“For example, if you are advertising shoes for young and older women, you should split them into 2 ad groups, ladies shoes and women shoes, and then match your ad message to Ladies or Women.”
“To improve your Google Ads click-through rate (CTR), first make sure the keywords you are bidding on receive a good impression share,” says 47 Insights‘ Paul Stephenson.
“There is no point in tinkering with ad creative and extensions if your ads are not being seen.”
“To find your impression share, click on ‘Auction Insights’ under the Keywords menu of your ad group or campaign. A decent Impression share is 50% plus.”
Stephenson continues: “Also, don’t forget to check your Top of Page Rate and Absolute Top of Page Rate percentages in the same table. You may be getting impressions but no clicks because your ads are always at the bottom of the search page.”
That’s why Jess McClory of Logic Digital recommends to “be mindful of your audience size. If you have a higher amount of impressions you are likely to have a lower CTR than if you have a smaller pool of impressions. If your impressions and your CTR is low, you may want to refine your audience targeting to ensure you’re appearing in front of the best eyes.”
“Ad testing is one of the key pillars to PPC success but with the amount of data you’ll potentially have to go through it can become very time-consuming,” writes Dan Reeves of Dandy Marketing.
“Scripts can offer instant insights or even automate some of your tasks so help you drive performance.”
Reeves shares the two scripts they’re currently using to automate their Google Ads campaigns:
“This will analyze your ads and aggregate performance for headlines, descriptions, and paths,” Reeves continues.
“You’ll then be able to see in an easy to understand Google Sheet which parts of your ads perform best. You can then combine different headlines to create new ads that are likely to perform better.”
Chances are, you’ve got hundreds of keywords that you’re bidding on.
It’s tempting to keep all of these running, but Matt Wheeler of Knowmad Digital Marketing advises to “pause or remove keywords that gather impressions, but are not converting or driving valuable traffic to your site.”
The first place to start is by analyzing your own Google Ads CTR. Use the templates we’ve mentioned here, and start spotting trends. Which keywords have the best CTR? Does specific ad copy impact the number of clicks you’re getting?
Once you’ve tweaked your campaigns based on your own data, use these tips to skyrocket your CTR even further.
You’ll soon start to see a bunch of new visitors coming from your Google Ads–and a better return on your budget, as a result.
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