People don’t generally have a favourable attitude towards ads, so it was delightful for us lovers of PPC to hear Jon Myers talk at January’s Biddable World Conference about present and future paid search trends, where he identified an upward trend in CTR.

CTR is such an important metric when measuring PPC performance, as it represents a direct response from the user. CTR is an indication of people taking action and voting with their mouse; they are making a conscious decision to click on an ad. Therefore, CTR is a sound representation of how good and relevant your ad is, and is absolutely pivotal. If your ad gets a click, this indicates to Google that people have found the ad relevant and helpful.

CTR is the most influential component in the Quality Score algorithm and Quality Score is correlative to the success of a PPC campaign. At keyword level, Quality Score is calculated on exact match search queries and is based on historic CTR. So, the higher the CTR the higher the Quality Score, and the higher the Quality Score the lower the Cost Per Click (CPC). Additionally, the lower the CPC, the less spend you will accrue and the more return you will get for your investment. So, to summarise, CTR is extremely important and a good CTR is likely to correlate with a good PPC campaign.

BUT, what is a good CTR? This very much depends on the industry that you are operating in, so it is very difficult to categorise. With this being said, there are a number techniques we can all adopt to increase our CTRs.

7 tips and tricks to boost your campaign’s CTR

1. Group keywords into semantically tight ad groups

Focus on the relationship between your keywords and your ad creative. This relationship needs to be tight. This can be achieved by increasing and maintaining the relevance between your keywords and the ads that these keywords trigger. Additionally, your keyword may have one semantic meaning, but multiple versions. For example ‘women’ has two other commonly used synonyms, ‘ladies’ and ‘females’. Each synonym should have its own ad group and that synonym should be used in the ad creative to achieve a tighter, more targeted approach.

2. Think audience personas

Ensure that your keywords are highly relevant to your audience. Think about your audience’s personas and make sure you give your customers a real identity rather than regarding them as an abstract collective. Spend some time determining how these personas are going to enter their search query into the search engines. This may give you inspiration for new keywords that you hadn’t already considered, to ensure that you are targeting every aspect of that persona.

You also need to think about personas when structuring your ads. Are your target audience likely to be triggered by emotive language or rational language? Are they likely to prefer to be presented with the benefits, or the features and functions? What kind of information do they value? Price and promotions, or exclusivity?

It’s likely that you will have several personas to represent your target audience, so organising your keywords and ad groups at a very granular level will support and enable you to target your potential customer whilst keeping the user at the centre of the process.

3. Simplify things

Your audience are going to be presented with a lot of choice when deciding which ad to give their click to. Therefore, it is important that you do one vital thing – simplify the decision for them. We have a tendency to favour information that is consistent with our expectations and beliefs. So, take advantage of this confirmation bias and display information that confirms their expectations and is consistent with their beliefs.
To explain, let’s take this search query ‘city break to Rome’. The individual behind this search query is likely to be thinking about visiting Rome’s most renowned sights such as the Coliseum and the Vatican during their break. So why not confirm their expectations and present this information in the ad text? Doing this should mean they are likely to have a more favourable attitude to the ad, and the impression is more likely to achieve a click.

Additionally, simplify the decision for them with a strong, definitive headline that is consistent with what they are looking for. A strong headline will take control of the audience and draw them in. In contrast, a weak headline is likely to require too much processing effort, interest is likely to be lost and another ad will steal the click. DKI can help with this. It makes the ad more targeted by using the specific keyword(s) that were used in the search query, which are then presented in bold, attaining a more stand-out presence. Using price points and savings is effective as this information is simple, easy to process and convincing. The trick is not to confuse the audience as this will only distract them. Further simplify their decision with a compelling call to action.

4. Always consider the end goal

The end goal is a conversion, so your keywords and your ads need to prepare the audience in advance of landing on the website. Therefore, the information in the ad needs to be consistent and synchronous with the information on the landing page. The style and language in the ad should depict the style and language of the content on the landing page. By doing this the user will have a more coherent experience throughout their journey and path to conversion.

5. Take up more space on the SERPs

Take advantage of extensions to not only provide more valuable information to your audience but to also occupy more valuable space on the results page. Dominating more space increases the opportunity of achieving a click. Furthermore, you can take up more ‘screen estate’ with Brand bidding.

6. Test and record

Building a continual testing plan will provide a platform for discovering new opportunities and optimising existing ones. When testing and optimising it is helpful to keep an up-to-date change history log, as this will enable you to identify what changes may have influenced the fluctuation in performance. For example, if you altered your ad creative on 20/03/14, and in a weekly report dated 01/04/14 – 07/04/14 you identified a 15% increase in CTR, you could infer that the increase in CTR was attributed to the ad creative changed on 20/03/14. As well as helping to determine causality and correlation, it also quite plainly indicates what works well and what doesn’t.

Use your best performing ad and run it alongside close variations of this ad, and eventually you will have a combination of the best snippets from each, giving you a great piece of clickable content. When testing new ads, ensure that they are set to rotate evenly and not optimised, so that you can gain a conclusive breakdown of ad performance.

As well as discovering new opportunities, current keyword performance should be frequently reviewed and bid optimisations made. Keywords with poor CTRs should be paused to ensure that the performance of other keywords within the ad group are not affected.

7. Exclude the irrelevant

Do you want your ads to show for people who have already converted? Obviously the answer to this question varies very much depending on the type of product/service you offer, but even if your product/service can support multiple conversions, those that have converted are now aware of your brand, so showing ads to these people may be a wasted impression, which could negatively impact CTR. If you would like to exclude already-converted customers from seeing your ads, allowing you to put more spend into targeting those who have not yet converted, go to Shared Libraries > Audiences and you can add a remarketing tag to all pages on the website. Once this has been implemented, you can create a new remarketing list. When enough date is collected you can add ‘converters’ as a negative audience by going to the audience tab.

Additionally, using negative keywords is essential to improving your CTR. Regularly reviewing your search query reports will ensure you are capturing all of the relevant keywords that should be excluded from your campaigns.

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear all about the tips & tricks you are currently using to give your CTR a boost!

(Image credit Flickr)