8 Ways to Increase Your AdWords CTR

8 Ways to Increase Your AdWords CTR

20th June 2013

Everyone wants more clicks, which is why your search click-through-rate is one of the most important elements that factors into your PPC efforts. The higher your %CTR, the more you can spend on relevant keywords within your account, which means you get more clicks and hopefully create more business for you and/or your client.

Click-through-rate plays an important role in an account‘s ecosystem; for example, it‘s one of the biggest factors that plays into quality score. In this article I will discuss some methods on how you can increase your search click-through-rate in Google AdWords.

1. Create Multiple Ad-groups

You can have hundreds and thousands of Ad groups within each campaign, which means that you don‘t need to ‘stuff’ all of your keywords in one Ad group. It is not uncommon for new PPC practitioners to write one Ad when they create their first campaign and Ad group, then think about all of the products/services they have to offer and put them all into one campaign – (DON‘T DO THIS… please).

What happens is that you won‘t be able to generate a tightly focused message which is customised to your audience which means that in a competitive environment, you are not as likely to receive clicks.

A good starting point is 10 – 20 keywords per Ad group. Monitor your results and see if there is room for further segmentation, just remember that 10 – 20 is not the 10th commandment of PPC advertising.

Splitting your keyword clusters by for example, products, topics, locations, etc. enables the possibility for a more customised experience and better engagement with the users you‘re targeting which is what we’re aiming for.


2. Use Your Keywords

If you use your targeted keywords in the Ad copy Search Engines make them bold. This in turn makes the ad more likely to grab the users’ attention. But be warned!! Use your keywords in a way that makes sense, now when I say makes sense I mean don‘t create an ad copy and fill it with keywords so it reads: “Buy a stool, brown stools, grey cushions online here” – ok?… another reason to segment your Ad groups in a neat and tightly focused way.

In the example below, you can see an Ad copy that was displayed after searching for “hdtvs for sale” on Google.  Notice that “HDTVs”, “sale” and even “TV’s” are bold which means that the advertiser  has used my search query in the headline (which I recommend). They have also used the search query in the description. The advertiser at least grabbed my attention.

Using your keywords in your Ad copy creates a great relationship between search query and Ad copy, which search engine users relate to and find relevant.


3. Increase Your bids

You’ll most likely end up paying more for the click if you increase your Max. CPCs, but if the quality of the traffic that comes from the keywords you‘re buying is good then that shouldn‘t stop you! Just remember to make sure to check your goals before making this decision.

Increased bids mean higher average positions, at least temporarily, and higher positions mean greater  %CTRs – assuming that everything else is hunky dory of course, like your Ad copy.

The example below visualizes the impact of decent incremental CPC bids. These are of course filtered averages; here I saw a 44% increase in %CTR but also a 60% increase in Avg. CPCs on average as a result.


4. Numbers & Punctuation FTW!

Brackets, exclamation marks, question marks and more are yours to use, so try them out! Punctuation marks are neat instruments to utilise when creating an Ad copy. They are especially useful if you put in the right context; question mark behind a question (can be used in the headline) or punctuation with a call-to-action.

You can also try using numbers in your Ad copy, if it applies, to stand out -especially if you see that most or none of your competition isn’t using them. You can try e.g. “50+ Great day Tours” instead of “Over Fifty Great Day Tours”  –  it also saves space if and when you need it!


5. Extend Your Headline

Using a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark at the end of description line 1 creates a longer headline when the Ad appears above or below organic search results (in the golden box) and gives you a chance to get better visibility, especially if you use your keywords in both the headline and description line 1.

Here’s an example of the same Ad copy, the top example has a full stop at the end of description line 1 which creates the extended headline while the bottom one not. This is also good to keep in mind when you’re thinking about the quality of your Ad, if the bottom example was displayed in the golden box my description would read “…It’s Easy Increase Visibility…” which sounds a bit strange.


6. Use Ad Extensions

Sitelinks, social, location, call extensions, and more, are easy-to-use additions that increase your real estate (space) on the search engine result pages (SERPs). They give you a greater opportunity to shout out your message with greater visibility and increase the likelihood of a click. The sitelink extension, to me, is a must use in every Ad group/campaign even if it’s just for the sole purpose of achieving greater visibility. If you aren‘t using Ad extensions, do it now! Here‘s an example of how the sitelink extension created more space for the top advertiser, notice that they have around half of all the space in the box:


7. Test different match types

Phrase and exact match keywords help you further refine the positions that your Ads will appear in, and while broad match keywords have greater reach than exact or phrase match keywords, they also make you eligible to appear for non-relevant listings, which might end up hurting your performance.

If your keyword list is mainly comprised of broad keywords I recommend shifting the balance and implement more phrase and exact match keywords.


8. Mind your negative keyword lists

This is my most important tip. Optimisation is key to success in any online campaign. Monitoring your search query reports and blocking irrelevant queries e.g. with a low %CTR is a great way to increase click-through-rate and also the quality of traffic you get from your PPC campaign.

For those of you who don’t know where the search query reports are you’ll find them under the keywords tab > Details > All.

With these 8 tips in mind you’re ready to kick some serious %CTR. Start by using something basic like implementing sitelinks, using keywords in your Ad copy, a full stop after description line 1 and keep going from there.

Increasing %CTR is something that requires disciplined tests and not necessarily something that can be achieved overnight so I urge you not to give up if your first tries fail – trial and error is a part of becoming a true master of the art of PPC.

Keep in mind that because %CTR plays a big role in quality score calculations it affects your ROI which is another great reason why you should not ignore this metric.


One final note: stay on the path of context – become a true PPC Jedi Master. One of the most awesome perks of running a PPC campaign is the power to be in the right place at the right time – in other words, in front of potential customers at the exact time that they are searching.

I really hope that these points help you to grow your account.

There are many more tips and tricks you can utilize to increase your %CTR. If you have a great tip to share with the rest us I’d love to hear it!


Written By
Haukur Jarl Kristjánsson, a.k.a “the Hawk” (@haukurjarl), is a well-rounded PPC strategist, SEM consultant and trainer based in Reykjavik, Iceland.
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