Increase AdWords CTR Without Touching Your Ad Copy
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Google Ads
February 18,2013

Increase AdWords CTR Without Touching Your Ad Copy

There are several reasons to improve the click-through rate of a campaign, ad group or keyword, perhaps the most impactful of which is improving a keyword’s Quality Score. Similarly, there are several ways to increase the click-through rate of a keyword, campaign, or even a whole account. The first solution many Adwords Management professionals turn to when working to improve CTRs is to re-jig ad copy and split test different headline and description variations against one another. But re-working ad copy can only improve things so far, and what if your ads aren’t the problem to begin with?

We’ve put together 5 simple optimisation tasks that can will help you raise your CTR through the roof!

Add Negative Keywords

Negative keyword expansion should already be on your weekly or monthly account optimisation schedule, but it can also be a great way to increase the CTR of a nad group or individual keyword. Here are four ways to research negative keywords to add to your account.

Search Query Reports


Search query reports should be the bread and butter of your negative keyword expansion. By looking at the phrases you have received impressions and clicks for, you should be able to get a pretty good idea of the sort of queries you DON’T want your ads displaying on. To run a query report, simply navigate to the Keywords tab in AdWords, and select All or Selected from the Keyword Details dropdown. Remember to include the Keywords column in the query report for a more accurate report. I would also recommend exporting the report into Excel to filter the results, or use a pivot table to get the most out of your query report.

AdWords Keyword Tool

While the keyword tool can be a great way to generate keyword ideas for your campaign, it can also be a great source of negative keyword ideas. Run a list of your top impression keywords (or keywords with a low CTR) through the keyword tool on broad or phrase match, and assume that you ad is displaying for all of the keyword tool’s suggested keywords. Look for words that indicate low quality search traffic and add negatie keywords accordingly.

Google Suggest and Ubersuggest

I’ve written about increasing CTR with Ubersuggest before, so I won’t repeat myself here.

Use The Search Results


Using the SERPs themselves can be a great way to source negative keywords. Search for some of your top impression, or low CTR keywords, and look through the SERPs for indicators of low quality traffic. For example, if Wikipedia is the first result for one of your keywords make sure to include “Wikipedia” and “wiki” and negative keywords.

Check Location Targeting Settings & Geographic Dimensions Reports


There is a loop-hole in AdWords default location targeting settings that allows your ads to display to users in locations and countries outside of your selected geographic targets. The default preference of People in, searching for or viewing pages about my targeted location (recommended) is actually quite broad, and depending on both the goal of your campaign and the nature of your business, may result in ads displaying for users well outside your geographic target, which will likely be driving down your CTR. Worse yet, you may be paying for clicks for users who are well outside the reach of your shipping area or service delivery zone, impacting your conversion rate and driving up your CPA. Don’t worry, there’s a simple fix.

Start by running a Geographic report from the Dimensions tab, and evaluate any traffic from outside your primary geographic target. If the numbers don’t stack up or you see a large volume of traffic from locations outside your geographic target locations, I would recommend the following location targeting settings to keep geographic targeting nice and tight.


Refine Keyword Match Types

Broad match modifier is my number one all-time favourite AdWords update, ever. If you’re still relying solely on regular broad match for the bulk of keywords in your account, you should revise your strategy immediately, the gains are too good to ignore.

The issue with broad match, simply, is that it’s just far too broad, and ends up displaying your ads on all sorts of search queries that you probably don’t want your ad displaying for. And unless you’ve paid for a click on one of these unwanted queries, you won’t even be able to find out what they are because they won’t show up in your search query reports.

Broad match modifier solves this problem by limiting search query variations that your ad will display on to close variations (like plurals and misspellings), greatly improving the overall quality of traffic your ads are displaying for, and likely giving your CTR a nice boost in the process.

Use Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are a simple way to increase the visibility and functionality of your ads, and should result in your ads being more useful to users.

The best extension for increasing CTR is undoubtedly the Ad Sitelinks extension. Ad Sitelinks are another no-brainer, and if you aren’t already running 4 or more ad sitelinks on every campaign in your account, you should be adding this to the top of your PPC to-do list.

The most useful Ad Sitelinks are ones that allow users to directly navigate to more useful pages on your website, without having to use on-site navigation. Linking to sub-category or destination/location pages helps get users one step closer to a conversion, and will make them less likely to bounce off the homepage.

For example, if you run an igloo hire business you may wish to include Ad Sitelinks for your more popular igloo hire locations, or different kinds of igloo hire. A set of potential Sitelinks might be:

Brisbane Igloo HireSydney Igloo Hire
Short Term Igloo HireLong Term Igloo Hire

Other ad extensions like social, location, and call extensions may also make your ad more useful to users, and may provide a small CTR boost in the process.

Increase Keyword Bids & Ad Rank

A common cause of low click-through rates is often as simple as having a low ad rank. If a particular keyword is performing within your target CPA or ROI range, increasing your maximum CPC bid is sure to result in a higher ad rank and most likely push your ad into a higher position, driving more clicks and a higher CTR. Of course, not all keywords are going to be profitable in higher ad positions with higher average CPCs, but it’s always worth capitalising on high performing keywords wherever possible.

Do you have any tips or tricks to increase your CTR without editing your ad copy? Let us know in the comments.

Google Ads
February 18,2013
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