Updated: Feb 11, 2019
Author: Tony Waldegrave
Google AdWords is a complex advertising platform. So before you can make improvements to your campaigns, you'll need to understand how things like Click Through Rates, Quality Scores and even SEO affect their performance.
Click Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who click on your ads when they appear in Google Search, Facebook or other online advertising media. Each time one of your ads appears, one impression is counted. For example, if one of your ads gets 1000 impressions and is clicked 42 times, it will have a CTR of 4.2%. If you don’t understand this AdWords terminology, don’t worry, you can check out Adhesion’s article about Google AdWords and Google Analytics Definitions.
A high CTR is an indication that your advertising campaign is performing well. In fact, a higher CTR can reduce your ad spend (more on that later).
Average Click Through Rates depend on a countless number of factors including your ads, your campaign settings, the industry you’re in, your target market, your product/service, the location you’re targeting, demand seasonality etc. A notable difference in click through rates can be seen between text ads in Google Search and display/image ads like banners. Across the board, text ads have higher average CTRs than display ads (mostly because they serve different functions). Check out the graph below showing how average CTR varies by industry.
In this article, we're going to focus on the Click Through Rates for text ads, not display ads.
At Adhesion, we consider the click through rates less than 4% to be relatively low. A lot of business owners struggle to manage their own Google AdWords, therefore lowering the average CTR figures in the graph above. When anyone joins Adhesion's AdWords team, our baseline goal is always to get 5%+ Click Through Rates within the first month. Any CTR we can get above 10% is considered impressive. CTRs above 15% are called "unicorns" because they're so rare. In fact, 12% of the campaigns that Adhesion manages are "unicorns" (see graph below). Adhesion strongly recommend seeking a Google certified professional instead of trying to DIY.
The quickest way to increase CTR is to add negative keywords to filter out irrelevant searches, and to optimise the wording of your ads. At Adhesion, we're always looking for irrelevant search terms that we can negate, and we're always A/B testing ad variants (i.e. simultaneously running two ads that are identical except for one thing and analysing which performs better). As we've learned many times, something as small as changing a full stop to a dash can make a significant difference.
In Google AdWords, Quality Score is a rating from 1 to 10 which represents the relevance and helpfulness of your ads, the keywords you are targeting, and your website's landing pages (5/10 is considered average). To get your ads at the top of Google Search, you can either pay more or improve your Quality Score (i.e. Ad Rank = Quality Score x Cost Per Click). In other words, the higher your Quality Scores, the higher your Return On Investment (ROI) will be.
Quality Scores are set at the keyword-level. One way to check your Quality Scores is to log into your AdWords accounts, navigate to an Ad Group, select the 'Keyword' tab and hover over the speech bubbles in the 'Status' column (see image below).
There are three main factors that affect Quality Score: Expected CTR, Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience. If your score for Expected CTR is 6/10 or higher, that means your CTR is higher than most other businesses that are similar to yours. Your Ad Relevance score will be low if Google thinks the words in your ad do not sufficiently match the keywords you are targeting or the content on your website's landing page. Realistically, none of the above matters if your website's landing pages aren't Search Engine Optimised (SEO) and Conversion Rate Optimised (CRO). Even if you have "unicorn" Click Through Rates, if your visitors aren't converting on your website then you might be wasting money.
To improve Quality Scores, the first step is to optimise your website (don't fret, it's easier than you think). In this case, you'll mainly want to focus on editing your website's text, headers, page titles and meta descriptions. As per Adhesion's SEO Tips and Guidelines, you'll want to use relevant and popular keywords that describes your products/services so that Google understands what you do. You can use the Google Keyword Planner tool to research what popular keywords best describe you. You can also use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to find out other things Google wants you to fix/improve on your website.
Once your website explains who you are and what you do more accurately, you should create and run variations of your ads (as we discussed in the How To Increase CTR section above).
For more information about CTR and Quality Scores, get in touch with Adhesion's team of friendly experts.
Our reputation goes hand-in-hand with our team’s dedication to best practice. As a registered Premier Google Partner, our team refreshes our certifications every 12 months — A tradition we started over a decade ago. To stay ahead, we are always looking forward to upcoming certifications for online advertising, website development and search engine optimisation.