Google Ads remains one of the most popular and cost-effective channels for digital marketers, boasting strong and easily measured ROI. Yet for some brands, paid search delivers middling results. Despite spending a good chunk of time and money on pay-per-click, these brands struggle to translate their investment into clicks.
A low click-through rate is the bane of any Google Ads campaign. But in many cases, it’s an easily remedied problem. With a strong understanding of why users click on paid search ads (and why they don’t), you can adjust your PPC strategy to capture clicks at a higher rate.
Why Users Click (or Don’t Click) on PPC Ads
On Google Ads, the average click-through is roughly 2%. However, this number can fluctuate in different circumstances.
For example, the average click-through rate for Google Ads on Google Search is roughly 3.15%. Yet on the Google Display Network, ads enjoy an average click-through rate of around 0.45%.
Click-through rates also vary from one sector to another. In one recent analysis, the industries with the highest click-through rates included Dating & Personals, Travel & Hospitality, and Automotive Sales. The industries with the lowest rates included Technology, B2B Vendors, and Employment Services.
But what about when you control for these factors? Why is it that some ads outperform others, even when they’re advertising the same product and targeting the same keywords?
According to a recent survey of users who clicked on paid ads, here are five of the top reasons why some ads enjoy higher click-through rates:
- The ad is a close or exact match for the user’s search intent.
- The user considers the ad the best answer to their search query.
- The ad is ranked above other ads and search results.
- The ad’s content is uniquely compelling to the user.
- The user recognizes and trusts the brand or product being advertised.
Based on this information, here are some quick tips and best practices to help you boost clicks on paid search ads.
How to Boost Your Click-Through Rate
Tailor Your Ads to Search Intent
The more closely your ad matches a user’s search intent, the more likely it is that the user will click on your ad. Unfortunately, many paid search ads do a poor job of answering users’ queries.
One of the best ways to get a sense of search intent for a given keyword is to look at Google’s top organic search results. These are the pages that Google believes are the best match for the users’ search query, so they’re an excellent guidepost for what kinds of ad content users will find relevant.
Effective Keyword Targeting
Low click-through rates often result from ineffective keyword targeting. Sometimes, brands over-rely on Google Ads’ “exact match” function, which can exclude valuable longtail keywords. Other times, brands use the “broad match” or “phrase match” functions, which tend to generate a mix of strong and weak keywords.
So, how can you capture longtail traffic while avoiding weak keywords? The best way to do this at the outset is to use “broad match” or “phrase match” combined with the “negative keywords” function. This will allow you to filter out keywords that contain words or phrases you don’t want to target. Over time, this will allow you to identify the keywords where you perform best.
Bid for Higher Ad Positions
If you consistently miss out on top ad positions, your click-through rate will inevitably take a hit. Ads in the #1 position on Google attract roughly six times as many clicks as ads in position #5 or lower.
So if you’re consistently ranking outside of the top two or three positions, your click-through rate will suffer. Consider experimenting with a new bid strategy to see if you can’t capture stronger ROI with larger bids.
Create Compelling Ads
Crafting compelling paid search ads is part art, part science, and well-worth the investment.
First, make sure that you’re leveraging the capabilities that Google Ads provides, like Expanded Test Ads and ad extensions. These features can increase the prominence and visibility of your ads while also adding new information to encourage clicks.
Second, take the time to craft content that resonates with users. Try to answer the user’s search query as clearly and directly as possible, use headlines to grab users’ attention, and include emotional triggers in your ad descriptions.
Target High-Value Users
Click-through rates soar when paid search ads are served to customers already familiar with a brand or product. If you’re not retargeting past visitors and existing customers, doing so could boost the performance of your paid search campaigns.
Retargeting will also give you the chance to leverage the “Similar Audience” feature on Google Ads. This feature allows you to target users with similar interests, search histories, and browsing behaviors as your retargeted audience. Similar audiences are a cost-effective way to drive clicks on paid search, since their click-through rates are comparable to the original audience.
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