by Casey Walrath November 5, 2013

4 Reasons You Have Low Click Through Rates

We’ll deal with low swoosh-through rates another day (image source)

You’ve created a brand new, super-spiffy campaign to sell your amazing new widget, but after a few weeks you notice that people don’t seem to be clicking on your ads as often as you think they should. Your widget might be the best thing in the world, but if you’re not following best practices you’ll see low click through rates regardless. Here are a few reasons why low click through rates happen and what you can do about it.

1. You’re Not Testing Ads

The best way to keep a low click through rate is to run only one set of ads forever. You don’t want that, so test new ads constantly! Always try to have at least two ads competing with each other in every ad group so you have direct comparisons (pro-tip: Set AdWords to rotate ads evenly or it will pick for itself and new ads might not get impressions).

Test similar ads across different ad groups, and use ad labels to quickly compare different types of ads. When you have enough clicks to know which ad is better—100 is usually enough—pause the loser and start testing something new. As you continually find better ad copy you’ll cure the low click through rate blues once and for all.

2. Your Keywords Don’t Match Your Ads

Google highlights ad text that matches user searches in bold, and the more bold text a potential customer sees the more likely he or she is to say, “Hey, that’s exactly what I’m looking for!” That’s the reaction you want. If you’re bidding on the keyword “widget store in neverland”, then your ad should probably say “Widget Store in Neverland” somewhere!

You want to stand out from the competition, so be creative when writing your ads, but remember that you’re trying to present your ad as the solution to the searcher’s problem. If your ad text doesn’t contain your search keywords, they’re more likely to skip your over and you’re going to get low click through rates.

3. You Have too Many Keywords per Ad Group

This follows from #2: If you want your ad text to match your keywords, you can’t have a lot of keywords in the ad group. It’s usually best to have no more than 3-5 keywords per ad group, and all of those should be closely related. In some cases just one keyword per ad group is enough!

Some advertisers like to have different keyword match types in different ad groups. I like to have each ad group contain one keyword in exact, phrase, and broad modified format. Experiment to see what works for you, but remember: if your click through rates are low, create more ad groups with fewer keywords per ad group. This will give you more relevant ads and higher click through rates!

4. You’re Worrying Too Much About Low Click Through Rates

Nobody wants low click through rates, and there are always ways to raise them, but remember that for most industries your end goal isn’t clicks, but conversions. Click through rates should be just one part of your broader strategy. You should also be asking: Are these clicks converting? Are they good conversions? What’s the return on my spend?

Often a campaign with low click through rates and a high conversion % is more valuable than one with high click through rates and a low conversion %. Always keep your goals in mind and remember that click through rates are just a means to an end.

  • AdWords

Casey Walrath

Casey Walrath

Casey is an account strategist and blogging/content and IT czar here at Disruptive Advertising. When he's not cuddling up to his cardboard cutout Chewbacca, he's cuddling up with his cardboard Jar Jar Binks.

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