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5 Advanced Ways to Increase Your AdWords CTR

Give your click-through rates an immediate boost. Use these five advanced tactics for more clicks and traffic – and greater PPC results.


Figuring out ways to increase your AdWords click-through-rate (CTR) can be frustrating.

Most internet advice focuses on the (very important) tactics of ad copy optimization, but that can only get you so far.

Eventually, search marketers will need to find advanced ways to increase their click-through rates.

If you find yourself in that position, read on!

1. Silo Traffic with Negative Match Keywords

Negative keywords are a crucial part of a healthy AdWords account. Just like the name suggests, they are the opposite of regular keywords.

Regular keywords tell Google what terms you want to bid on. But negative keywords tell Google where you absolutely don’t want to show up.

You should always add negative keywords to keep your ads relevant; however, there is a way to take your negatives to the next level and improve click-through rates.

Negative keywords come in three match types: exact, phrase, and broad. Adding one of those negatives to a campaign will prevent your ads from showing for that match type.

If you want to get as high of a click-through rate as possible, add your exact match regular keyword as exact match negatives to your broad and phrase campaigns. Your users will be funneled to ads you made for their specific queries.

The CTRs for your exact match keywords should be much higher than your other keywords. By adding your exact keywords as negatives to your broad and phrase campaigns, Google does not have the option of sending users to less-relevant campaigns (that happens a lot).

Bottom line: Funnel traffic to your exact keywords using negative keywords.

2. Leverage Location Bidding

Users from different geographies search in different contexts.

Imagine two users searching for the query “November clothing”, but one lives in Iceland and the other in Miami. The meaning behind the query changes depending on the physical location where it was entered.

The key to improving CTR with location bidding is to first understand how geography affects user behavior down the funnel. You want to make sure that increasing your CTR for a specific geography is worth the investment.

Do users from New York City have a higher ROI than users from other locations? If so, that would be a good place to start. But first, you need to start tracking. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Google offers tracking parameters called ValueTrack parameters. These parameters help search engine marketers track anything from the geography of a click to the device that drove it. You should implement all of them but for now, focus on implementing the two geography-based ones: physical location (loc_physical_ms) and location of interest: (loc_interest_ms).

The physical location parameter tells you the location of the user. The location of interest will tell you the location they were searching for (if applicable). If a New Yorker were searching for hotels in Maui, the first parameter would relate to New York and the latter to Maui.

Make sure that you are passing these parameters into your analytics system. Once you can tie the data to user performance, you can see what geographies are worth investing time into.

Bottom line: Track the location information of clicks and use that information to improve click-through rates.

3. Remove Duplicate Keywords

Keyword creep is a problem that every PPC account must deal with eventually. As time goes on, you add keywords that make sense at the time. Eventually, you step back and realize that your once tidy account has a problem with duplicate or irrelevant keywords.

Don’t worry if you pull a search query analysis and see that you have search queries matching to the same keyword in multiple places. It happens. Google will not prevent you from adding duplicate keywords in separate campaigns.

Running an analysis is easy. Navigate to the keywords tab for your account and click the search terms button in the top left. This will show you the queries and keywords that are driving paid search traffic to your website.

If you pull an analysis and see this problem, keep the keyword that performs better for your business. Pause the other one and watch your overall CTR rise as more traffic see the appropriate ads.

Bottom line: Use only one instance of a keyword per match type to avoid splitting traffic.

4. Opt Out of Google’s Search Network

A lot of the clicks that marketers see in the AdWords UI don’t actually come from Instead, they come from Google’s vast network of partner websites called the Google Search Network.

Search network websites can range in quality. Some are legitimate while some are complete spam. Sadly, Google doesn’t let marketers blacklist specific search partner websites, so you’re either all in or all out.

The key is to figure out if the partner network is right for you.

Remember those ValueTrack parameters? There is one called the network parameter that lets marketers track the network of a click all the way to the final conversion.

You can implement the network parameter to break out your important KPIs by network. See if your search partner traffic drives a profitable ROI before shutting it off completely. If your KPIs are bad for search partner traffic, you can improve them by simply opting out of the network.

Bottom line: Google’s search network can send you a lot of bad traffic. Consider opting out of it.

5. Implement Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Maximizing your click-through rates can take a lot of time and energy, but dynamic keyword insertion can reduce that.

Dynamic keyword insertion allows advertisers to create an empty space in your ads where the user’s search term will appear. The idea behind it is that nothing can be more relevant to the searcher than the query they actually searched for.

Let’s imagine that your company sells used Mazdas. As a search advertiser, you create campaigns and ads groups around the different types of Mazda cars – “Mazda 3” or “Mazda Miata”. Dynamic keyword insertion automatically injects the user’s hyper-specific search term into your ad copy.

You would create ads that include action keywords and then the dynamic keyword:

  • Find Your Mazda 3
  • Buy The Perfect Used Miata

If you want to improve your CTR with dynamic keyword insertion, start by following Google’s instructions here.

Bottom line: Dynamic keyword insertion makes your ads more relevant by inserting the search query.

Category PPC
Dusty Vegas Performance Marketing Expert

Dusty Vegas is a digital marketing and demand generation expert.

5 Advanced Ways to Increase Your AdWords CTR

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