If there is one thing that you must pay attention to with pay per click in order to see better results, it's click-through rate.

Conversions are the ultimate goal of your campaign (unless its strictly for branding), but you can't convert visitors if they don't visit your site.

And if they don't click on your ad, then it will be less likely your ad will even appear near the top, even if you're the top bidder.

Just to be clear what we're even talking about click-through rate or CTR is the percentage of people who clicked on your ad out of the total number of impressions of the people who saw it.

In a previous blog I tried to answer the question, What is A Good Click-Through Rate on Google AdWords. As I tried to demonstrate, this answer varies dramatically from industry to industry and is also impacted by the device being targeted.

In this article I will demonstrate how to improve click through rate, no matter the industry or the device being used.

Why CTR Helps Determine Your Rankings and Cost

First, let me remind you of the importance of a good click through rate. It’s one of the factors, and, probably the most important factor, in determining Quality Score.

Google and Microsoft Ads don't use a highest bid to their platforms. Instead it's your bid times your Quality Score times your bid, which results in your AdRank.

If you have a low Quality Score, not only will you have to pay more for your bids, it might prevent your ads from showing. This is why you see warnings in your account about low Quality Score.

Likewise if you have a high Quality Score your ad could appear above a competitor who actually is bidding higher.

Here are some easy fixes to improve your click-through rate.

The focus of this article is Google AdWords, but because Microsoft (formerly Bing) has copied so many of their features, the same advice applies to them.

Start By Cutting Down On Impressions

One of the best ways to improve click-through rate is simply to lower the overall number of impressions.

This doesn’t mean cutting down on potential opportunities for business. It often means stop your ads from showing for phrases that don't benefit your business.

If you’re using broad match with your keywords then it’s often triggering a number of words that really don’t apply to your business.

Changing these phrases to either modified broad match or phrase match will lower your impressions significantly right away.

To understand the difference between the three match types you have to understand how they work. For example, say you're targeting the word plumbing repair with broad match. It could result in your ad showing for a variety of terms including household repairs, plumbing videos, bathroom remodeling.

With phrase match, the phrases that your ads target have to include both plumbing and repairs in that order, but with additional words, as well. So the phrase plumbing repair near me would work, but not repair plumbing near me.

With modified broad match (where your words have a plus sign (+) in front of them) these same words would result in phrases like repair my plumbing.

Even with the match change, your ad can still be triggered by words that don’t apply. For example, for a plumber the phrase “plumbing repair” would obviously be important. Yet, if they’re typing in “DIY plumbing repair” or “plumbing repair videos,” these might not be good candidates.

By adding DIY and videos as negative keywords in Google AdWords or Bing, you block your ads from showing for these phrases in the future.

You can find the actual words that triggered your ads in the search term report. Review that regularly to look for phrases that don't apply to your business and add these to your negative keyword list.

After doing these two actions your impressions should go down dramatically and as a result your CTR will improve. Imagine you’ve gone from 1500 impressions a day to 750. Even if your number of clicks remain the same, the CTR has doubled.

Ensure You Are Targeting Just Your Specific Market

You want to make sure only people in your targeted market see your ads
Find Location Options Under Settings

Another simple way to lower impressions is to make sure that you're targeting only the market you serve.

When you set up your campaign you may have overlooked Location Options under Settings.

The default setting is People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location which means that people outside your market could potentially see your ad.

Simply change this to People in my targeted location.

Have Multiple Ad Groups

The tendency by people setting up their own AdWords campaign is to choose as many words as they can, then dump them all into the same Ad Group. It’s easier to do, but seldom effective. It means all of these words are triggering the same ad.

Grouping your ads by similar phrases and having ads that incorporate the targeted phrases make a difference.

Tossing plumbing repair and sewer repair in the same ad group, may be convenient, but not very effective. Break them out in their own ad groups and have the ad copy incorporate these words in the actual text.

An added benefit is that when people type in words and these are to be found in the ad text, then they will be bolded.

Seeing the phrase they typed in bolded in your ad copy will often attract their attention. In the ad below the eyes are drawn to the phrase that was typed in, even though the ad is in the second position.

improve CTR in Google Ads in 2020 through keyword phrases in ads
Search terms included in ad text are bolded.

Make Your Ads Stand Out

Google Ad extensions help to make your ad more prominent and stand out.
Ad extensions help to make your ad more prominent

Using ad extensions such as location extensions or sitelinks, will make your ads stand out more and as a result encourage prospects to either click your ad or click to call you directly.

In the ads to the right you can see one ad stands out more because it utilizes more extensions.

Google is constantly revising the extensions they offer so it’s best to pay attention to what is new.

Often, if you can incorporate a new feature before the competition, it will really stand out.

There are dozens of extensions, but often only a few will apply to your business.

According to Google's own studies, using four or more sitelinks in your campaign will have a 10-15% increase in click through rates.

Also, try to make your ad look different from the competition.

If all the ads currently running for a phrase look remarkably similar, then try a different approach.

If all the ads boast of free shipping, then adding that won’t really set you apart.

Focus on different benefits or maybe have shorter ad copy.

Always Be Testing

One important way to impact CTR is through the ads you run. You should always be running 3-4 ads for each ad group. This way you can compare the click-through rates of each ad.

Having multiple ads also impacts Google's algorithm. Again citing their own studies, having 3 or more expanded text ads running in an ad group will result in up to 15% more clicks. I'd expand on this and also include a responsive text ad.

Don't stop there.

Constantly be adding new ads to the rotation.

If one ad is doing noticeably better than the other, pause the poorer performing ad and create another to try to beat your most successful ad. If this does better than your original leader, then pause that one and create another. I recommend making sure an ad gets at least 100 impressions before making a determination on it.

Optimized Ad Rotation

Optimized ad rotation can increase your click through rate.
Optimized ad rotation means your best ads show more often

This is one Google strongly recommends from the beginning, but which I'm often cautious about until I have enough data or at least that Google has enough data.

In your campaign settings, you can choose between having your ads run evenly indefinitely and Optimize: Prefer best performing ad.

The idea is that they'll then show the ad that the searcher will respond to the best based on their specific history.

The problem I have with clicking optimize right away is that they'll focus on one ad immediately and beginning to show it at the expense of all the others.

This is why, as I mentioned with the testing, is to ensure your ads have had enough impressions for Google's algorithm to make a true determination on which ads perform best.

Yet, if Google is to be believed, an optimized setting will result in 5% more clicks and conversions.

Bid Higher

The position of your ad is another determining factor.

The top position will get significantly higher click-through rate then the second spot.

If you’re ad consistently shows up in the lower positions, then people won’t pay attention to it. You'll still be generating impressions, but almost no clicks.

You need to rethink your bidding. If you can’t bid higher for that word, then pause it and devote your attention to the words you can competitively bid on.

Why You Don't Always Want a Hight Click-Through Rate

I have clients where the goal of there ad is not to have a high click-through rate. The reason is that we're trying to dissuade some people from clicking on their ads.

The reason we don't want everyone clicking on an ad is that not all customers are the same for them. For example, if you offer a luxury item, you don't want just everyone clicking on the ad if not all of them can afford your product or service.

By adding a price in the actual ad copy you hopefully keep some from clicking the ads. The ones who can't afford it.

I also have clients that sell B2B products or services, but use terms that are also used by consumers. Making the focus of the ad on businesses will hopefully keep consumers from clicking.

These are only a few of the ways you can to improve you click-through rate. One of the main objective is not just to drive traffic, but to get the most out of your advertising dollars.

This is why hiring an agency or consultant who is fully trained in Google AdWords or Bing is often a good investment, despite their fees.

If you're looking to improve your click-through rate or more importantly, your overall business, then contact a Google AdWords Consultant such as myself.