12 Ways to Improve Your Click-Through Rate in Google Ads

12 Ways to Improve Your Click-Through Rate in Google Ads

What’s the average click-through rate for a Google Ads ad? When people ask this question, it’s usually because they want to benchmark their own CTRs.

But listen up: Way too many advertisers are content to reach an average click-through rate and leave it at that. If that’s you, you can just look at our search ad benchmarks chart below and exit the post.

average click-through rate benchmarks

If, however, you want to achieve optimal performance with your Google Ads and get the most out of your (or your client’s) budget, then you’ll read on.

In this post, we’re going to show you when and why you should strive for an above-average click-through rate in Google Ads, and show you exactly how to do that.

Table of contents

  • What is click-through rate?
  • Why does high CTR matter?
  • What is a good CTR in Google Ads?
  • How to improve Google Ads click-through rate

What is click-through rate in Google Ads?

Click-through rate, in general, is a ratio of clicks to impressions. So in Google Ads, an impression occurs when your ad appears on the SERP, and a click occurs when the person viewing your ad clicks on it. Ergo, CTR is the percentage of people who see your ad who then click through to your ad’s destination (whether that’s to a landing page, app store, or lead form).

definition of click-through rate

Why does CTR matter in Google Ads?

Click-through rate is a tricky PPC metric because while high click-through improves your Quality Score, you’re also paying for every click. Let’s dive into this a bit.

When high click-through rate is good

A high click-through rate in Google Ads is good because it’s an indicator that your ad copy is appealing to your audience.

But with the way Google Ads works, there is a deeper benefit. The Google Ads algorithm rewards higher quality ads with higher positions and lower costs per click. Why? Because Google doesn’t make money if no one clicks on its ads, so it gives preference to the ads most likely to succeed.

And how does Google measure the quality of ads? Its Quality Score formula is elusive, but we know its three core components:

  • Relevance of the ad and landing page to the keyword.
  • The landing page user experience.
  • 👉 Your expected CTR. 👈

And there it is. Expected CTR is how Google estimates the ad to perform, regardless of position and other factors, taking into account your past performance with that keyword. According to Google, you can score an average, above average, or below average expected CTR for each keyword.

Soooo…..the higher your CTR, the higher your expected CTR, and the higher your Quality Score. Higher Quality Score leads to higher Ad Rank. Ads that rank higher get clicked more at lower costs. The lower your cost per click, the lower your cost per action.

cycle showing how higher click-through rate in googlge ads leads to higher ad rank and lower costs

So how do you get an above-average click-through rate? We’ll get to that shortly. But first, a word of caution on high click-through rates.

When high click-through rate is…not good

Remember, this is pay-per-click advertising, so you are paying for every click on your ad, and not every click on your ad is going to convert. So a high click-through rate is a bad thing if you have a low conversion rate because you’re paying for clicks that aren’t going to result in a return on your investment.

diagram showing high click through rate with low conversion rate means higher costs

So your goal is not to get the highest click-through rate, but the highest qualified click-through rate possible.

But wait, one more thing.

Another piece in this equation is the keywords you’re bidding on. Some keywords come at a high price, such that even if those clicks are converting, you’re not yielding a return on investment with your ad spend. So ideally, you want a high click-through rate on keywords that are not just relevant, but also affordable.

What is a good CTR in Google Ads?

So, provided they’re relevant and affordable keywords, what is a good CTR in Google Ads? What does it take to land an “above average” score on your expected click-through rate? Let’s take a look back on the chart from the intro, which contains industry averages:

average click-through rate benchmarks

Catch our latest Google Ads benchmarks here.

For many industries, an average click-through rate is between 4-6%. So a good or above-average click-through rate in Google Ads would be something like 7-9%. If you’re in the travel, automotive sales, or real estate industries, however, where average CTR is 7-9%, you’d want to strive for 10-12%. But if you’re in the arts and entertainment industry where the average CTR is almost 11%, you’d be looking at 13% or higher.

How to improve click-through rate in Google Ads

Now that we know what click-through rate is, how it impacts your Google Ads performance and what it means to have a good click-through rate, we can talk about how to achieve one. And there are a few approaches. The first is with your targeting.

1. Target the right keywords

For starters, make sure you’re targeting the right keywords. Here are three types of keyword to focus on for higher click-through rates:

  • Commercial intent keywords: Commercial intent keywords are those people type in when they have intent to purchase (like “best CRM” or “stainless steel dishwasher”). Avoid informational keywords like “what is a CRM” since this will result in lower CTR and/or wasted spend.
  • Branded keywords: These are another great opportunity, and not just your own brand. Target partner brands, competitor brands, or other brands your target market may searching when they’re in buying mode.
  • Local keywords: Local keywords (like “san diego personal trainer”) tend to get high CTRs since local searchers often have a high commercial intent.

the four types of keyword intent

2. Use negative keywords

This is a must for keeping your click-through rates in check. Negative keywords are the ones you don’t want Google to show your ad for. So if you sell new cell phones, for example, you would set “refurbished” or “used” as negative keywords. This way, your ad won’t show for people unlikely to click on your ad.

3. Narrow your audience targeting

If you’re not running search or keyword-targeted ads (or if you are but are layering audiences on top of that), you may also want to revisit your audience targeting. By narrowing your audience down to more specific criteria, you can more specifically cater your ad copy and improve your click-through rate, even if you aren’t getting as many clicks overall.

How to improve Google Ads CTR with ad copy

Low click-through rates could be because you’re bidding on the wrong keywords. But in most cases, you can significantly increase CTR (and conversion volume…and ROI) by simply writing stronger ad copy. Here’s how.

4. Keep it simple and skimmable

Unless it’s a billboard at a long traffic light, you can rest assured that virtually no ads are read in full—especially online ads. Keep your ads simple so they can communicate an effective message at a glance. Here’s how:

  • Include the keyword in the headline and description, but don’t repeat it.
  • Don’t use the full character count if you don’t need it.
  • Don’t complicate your ad with abbreviations that aren’t intuitive.
  • Use plain language that reads easily.

Plenty more Google Ads examples here.

✴️ Improve your CTR with the free guide ⤵️

>> 10 Tricks to Get the Click: How to Write Exceptional PPC Ad Copy