by John Thuet November 11, 2015

3 Ways to Improve Your Click-Through-Rate Today

Depending on the maturity of your AdWords account, you’ve likely focused your efforts on improving certain KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Improving all metrics is the ideal situation, but a successful marketer will focus their efforts and testing on just a few. Once those are in a profitable spot, they can then move on.

When just starting out, you may focus on cost, cost-per-lead, and volume. There will come a time when you’ve maxed out the volume you’re receiving on your best terms. At this point, you’re asking, “my conversion rate rocks and my cost-per-click is decent. How can I improve my click-through-rate (CTR) to capture more of those impressions!?”

If this hasn’t happened to you yet, I promise, it will. Here are 3 ways to improve your click-through-rate (CTR) and bring more people to your website or landing page:

Ad Rank vs CTR

It may seem obvious, but I find account after account that doesn’t take it into consideration. The top spot will have the highest click-through-rate. This has held true since…well, since Google allowed us to give them our money.

This is also one of the fastest ways to increase your click-through-rate. Bid up, take over that top spot, and your CTR will jump. Another benefit of an increased CTR will be a rise in your quality score. The better the quality score, the lower your cost-per-click.

It’s important to note that the top spot may NOT be the best converting spot for you. Even though you’re focused on increasing your click-through-rate, make sure to watch how that affects your conversion rates. It’s rare, but there are a few industries out there that perform best in the 3-5 ad rank range.

Your Best Friend… Negative Keywords

Depending on the account build and strategy of your account, you’ve probably nailed down your top converting keywords and are ready to pump up the volume. Your click-through-rate is a great place to start. However, taking a really close look at your targeting methods and your keywords will have a greater impact on your CTR than you may realize.

Increasing your click-through-rate is all about relevancy and standing out (discussed later). If I’m searching for yellow Nike shoes, I sure as heck want to see ads related to yellow Nike shoes. Not blue Nike shoes, not Nike shoes in general, but yellow Nike shoes!

Who wouldn't want yellow Nikes?

Who wouldn’t want yellow Nikes? (image source)

Sometimes we may be targeting our infamous yellow Nike shoes with a broader keyword. In doing so, we are most likely going to be showing up for terms unrelated (however close) to what the user is actually searching. This is where negative keywords come in. Make sure if your keyword is “yellow Nike shoes” that your search query report is bringing up terms that are specific to your keyword.

That will enable you to have great message match with your ads and you’ll see an uptick in your click-through-rate.

Why? Because you’ll be giving your audience what they want… and you’ll limit the number of impressions going to people who aren’t exactly looking for your product. It’s simple math. Click through rate = impressions divided by clicks. If you are racking up impressions to unwanted people, they aren’t going to click and you’re CTR goes down.

You may ask, “Why is that bad? If they don’t click, I don’t pay. Right?”

True… but having a low CTR will hurt your quality score, which will in turn make your cost-per-click increase. Nobody wants to pay more for clicks than they have to.

Super Duper Creative Ads

Ad testing is stressful. Not everyone is super creative. So most people, and I seriously mean most people, just duplicate what the competition is doing. They must be making money…right?

Because of dynamic keyword insertion, as well as this group think mindset that all advertisers must be doing it right, we get a muted experience for the user. If you truly want to increase your click-through-rate through ad testing, I’ve found these best practices to help make creating tests easier:

  1. Make sure the Keyword is in the ad in 1-2 places. As you can see from this example, the #2 ad differentiates itself by having a nice bolded keyword (Google will bold the text in the ad if it matches the keyword).  

  2. Ask a question or highlight the solution to the problem. In this example, I’ve asked a question. We’ve found through testing that the user who simply types in a more broad term like “buy surety bond” is typically looking for a free quote and they need it right away. Therefore we stand out from all other ads by asking if the person needs a surety bond. If they don’t…I don’t want them clicking on my ad. But if they do, then they better click! :relaxed:

  3. Use Ad Extensions. This one is tough. Google will choose to show them at their discretion. It’s a best practice to have created and ready all applicable ad extensions. Take up that real estate. You’re paying for it either way. In this example, we have a call extension, call-out extension and sitelink extensions showing.

  4. Test, test and test some more. I prefer to split test my ads on using Google Experiments. This highlights the results nicely during and after the test is over. If you’re new to Experiments, you can check out how to set them up here.

  5. Search your top terms, look at the competition, and try to do something a little different. You still want to get the right messaging across, but stay away from duplicating what everyone else is doing…because their click-through-rates are probably the same as yours.


Of the many methods and strategies used to increase click-through-rates, I’ve found these five to be the quickest and surest methods.

Give them a shot, and comment below if you have other methods you’ve used. After all, I’m always up for a good split test. ☺

  • AdWords

John Thuet

John Thuet

John is our extreme, all around, athletic dude and beard enthusiast. He loves the outdoors and is currently obsessed with rock climbing. His major pet peeves include paying too much for food and being late.

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