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5 Ways to increase your CTR

Discover 5 simple ways to improve your Google search advertising click-through rates (CTR).

CTR is the percentage of people who see your ad and click on it; or the proportion of impressions that result in a click.

The average click-through rate for search advertising is , so you want to be obsessed with beating that number. Generally, a click-through rate of 4–5% is considered successful. You can give yourself a big pat on the back for anything north of that.

This blog is geared towards beginners and intermediate-level Google ad users who need simple ways to improve CTR on Google ads search campaigns.

Improving your click-through rate is not always an easy task, but there are some quick tweaks you can make to enhance the performance of your search ads.

The main reason you want to improve your click-through rate is because it has a big impact on your quality score. If you have a higher quality score than your competitors, Google will prefer your ad and push your ad up the rankings, since ad rank is a combination of your quality score and your bid.

This means you will ultimately pay less for clicks and appear higher in the ad ranks, increasing your share of the clicks on any given page.

You might be asking questions like: how do I get more clicks on my ads? How can I boost my CTR without increasing my bids? How do you optimise CTR?

We discuss 5 ways you can increase your Google search ad click-through rates:

Add negative keywords.

Adding negative keywords to your Google ads campaign is a vital factor in increasing your CTR. If you are appearing in search results for keywords that aren’t targeted enough for your service/offering, you will get a lower click-through rate, fewer conversions and a poor quality score.

By getting rid of the keywords that aren’t targeted enough you will reduce wasted ad spend and increase the likelihood of someone who is interested in being served your ad, thus increasing the chances of generating clicks.

To add negative keywords to your ad campaign, navigate to your keywords and go to your search terms report. Identify the search terms with low a CTR (under 2% or 3%).

You should also try to identify really broad keywords that are showing up in your search terms report that aren’t closely related to your product/service.

If the user intent behind the keyword search is too vague, you’re probably better off excluding it from your campaign so you can be sure the people who see your ad are actively looking for what you are advertising.

When adding negative keywords, you need to decide whether to use exact match, phrase match, or broad match keywords to exclude. Different scenarios will require different solutions.

Exact match keywords: When you select this option only searches containing your exact keyword will display your ad. The exact match type will still show close variants and reordering of the keyword as long as the meaning doesn’t change.

Phrase match keywords: This match type means the keywords must be present in the search query in the same order as written by you in Google ads campaign. Phrase match also shows for close variants but not for synonyms.

Broad match keywords: Broad match shows the ad when your keyword is present anywhere in the search query. Broad match keywords show for all close variants of the term as well as synonyms.

Understand auction insights.

To access the auction insights report, again, navigate to the search terms report and click the drop-down arrow on the tab and select ‘auction insights’.

Auction insights will show you how your digital ad campaigns compare to your competitors for the keywords and dynamic ad targets that you’re focusing on.

You’ll then see a page with a list of your competitors and metrics like impression share, outranking share, average position and so on.

Each row represents a competitor, so with this information, you are able to see where you’re outperforming your competitors and where you need to improve.

Ideally, you want to be pushing for an average position of 2–3. If your average position is 3.6, for example, you may want to think about boosting it slightly by improving your landing page, bidding a bit higher, or anything else you think will improve your quality score.

The position above rate shows how often your competitor appears above you in paid search results. The higher the average position above rate, the less competitive you are with your bids.

The top of page rate shows how often the business is at the top of search results for the target keywords. The higher your top of page rate, the higher your click-through rate is likely to be. As with organic search results, the higher your rank, the more clicks you will attract. Position 1 beats position 2, 2 beats 3 and so on.

The idea behind using audience insights is to understand how competitive you are in the market, and whether you need to tweak aspects of your campaign to generate more clicks.

Increase your bids to a competitive level.

If you’re using manual bidding when you set up your campaign, you might find that Google’s ad group status says ‘Below first-page bid (£x)’. In this scenario, Google is telling you that you’re not bidding high enough based on your quality score for your ad to appear on the first page.

If you’re not on the first page, you’re not likely to get many impressions. Fewer impressions leads to fewer clicks.

If you hover over the ‘Below first-page bid’ status, Google will share some insight about your ad.

Google will share your ad’s quality score (out of 10), expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience.

If you have a low-quality score or below-average performance for any of the above, you may need to increase your bid or work on improving the component that’s letting you down, like your landing page experience for example.

You should aim for the 7–10/10 range for your quality score.

If your quality score is in the range of 7–10 but your ad isn’t showing on page one you should increase the bid to a more competitive level based on Google’s recommendations.

In this case, you need to bid high enough to enter the auction.

To rectify, check all of the relevant keywords, go to edit, change max CPC bids and then ‘Raise bids to first page CPC’. Then set your max CPC just above the recommended CPC.

Once you have increased your bids to a more competitive level you’ll want to start working on improving your quality score so Google prefers your ads over your competitors, driving your CPC down over time.

Optimising your text ads.

When running Google ads, make sure you have three text ads in every ad group and at least one responsive ad.

In our experience, responsive text ads outperform regular text ads so make sure yours are set up well. The more Google can test with your responsive ads, the more likely they will be able to drive more impressions and a higher click-through rate, so give the algorithms some time to work their magic.

Ensure your ads are highly relevant to your target audience and to your landing page.

You want to take people to a page that makes total sense to them after reading and clicking your ad. Otherwise your bounce rate, conversion rate and other metrics will suffer, ultimately damaging your quality score.

When your ad group is live, be sure to check in on how it is performing at least once or twice per week. Look at the worst-performing ad from the group, pause it and set up a new one mixing in what you know works on your other ads, adding a few lines of new copy or an ad extension.

Make sure you have at least three headlines and two descriptions on each ad using targeted keywords that you know your audience is searching for.

Optimise your ad extensions.

Ad extensions are a great way to improve your ad’s visibility, increase the number of clicks and boost click-through rates. This is largely down to the extra prominence your ad receives when it has multiple extensions.

There are many different ad extensions, so we’ll summarise how some of them can drive higher click-through rates on your ads.

So here’s a list of ad extensions and a quick explanation of what they do.


These are 5 simple ways to improve your click-through rate on your search ads. If you would like to understand more about ad optimisation, we’d be happy to speak with you. Drop us a line or contact for more information.

Originally published at on September 28, 2020.



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Matthew Johnson

Matt Johnson is Head of Marketing at Contra, a Digital Design and Digital Marketing Agency is Greenwich, London. He has also set up and sold two companies.