Performance Marketing

4 Ways To Drive Up Your Search Ad Click-Through Rate

Guest Contributor

You’ve carefully designed, planned, and placed your ads, but you’re still not too impressed with the click-through rates you’re seeing. Don’t be discouraged – improving your CTR requires a bit of time and some careful research, but it is well worth the effort. Obviously, improving your CTR allows you to reach a larger audience of relevant customers and sends more traffic to your site. Additionally, higher CTRs can also build up your Adwords quality score, which in turn reduces your average cost per click and minimum bid.

Here are 4 ways to get your CTR back up to where you want it to be…

1. Negativity is key. This probably shouldn’t be your general approach to life, but it is certainly a good tactic when optimizing your search campaigns. Generating negative and exclusion keyword lists allows you to direct your ad to people who are specifically searching for related content. This will ensure you’re not wasting valuable advertising dollars on visitors who just happened to stumble upon your ad because of a weird pair of keywords.

madison hotelFor example, when you search for “Madison Hotel Toronto” on Google, a number of advertisements show up for hotels in Toronto, including the Madison Manor Boutique Hotel (the original query). However, Google also returns a result for the Madison Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Moreover, the hotels.com ad leads to a list of lodging availabilities in Madison, Wisconsin. If these ads had included “Toronto” on their negative keyword lists, they would not be delivered to someone who is clearly looking for accommodations in Toronto.

If you suspect that a certain search term might incorrectly lead to your ad, plug it into Google and test it out! Conversely, look up your own keywords and see if any ads are out of place. Then, include those results in your negative keyword list.

2. Make good use of extensions. Ad extensions supplement more information to your basic text ad, which makes it easier for people to connect with you. Google Adwords currently allows you to attach a location, special offers, ratings, etc. to your ad text. In fact, Google reports that using extensions can boost CTRs by up to 30%.

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3. Quality, not quantity. If you pack a bunch of vague keywords into each campaign, your ads will lose focus and will respond to a huge range of search queries. Although you may reach a greater volume of people, you’ll be hard pressed to find seriously interested customers.

To combat keyword inefficiency, use long-tail search terms. These are highly specific, less competitive keywords that represent the majority of searches: think “ingredients in sunscreen that cause allergic reactions” as opposed to “sunscreen”. You can research long-tail keywords through Google Adwords’ Keyword Tool or free resources like this Auto Suggest Keyword Tool.

Additionally, make use of ad groups to manage variations of your campaign. Think about the specific message that you want to impart, and pick 10 – 20 keywords for each group. Be sure to re-evaluate your groups every now and then to see if they are performing according to your goals. This all leads us to…

4. Test and monitor your campaign holistically. This is perhaps the most crucial tactic for improving your CTR. All ad platforms provide some feedback about how your ads are faring. Start by checking out existing banner ads to see what’s working, and then test a couple of different options. Don’t be afraid to play around with varying copy, colors, images, demographic targets, bids, etc.

Lastly, remember that CTR isn’t the be-all and end-all. If those clicks aren’t converting into real customers or if people are leaving your site shortly after arriving, then clearly there are other aspects of your marketing campaign that need some TLC. Take advantage of tools like Google Analytics to monitor what happens after the click.

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