improve_your_click_through_rateRunning a business is difficult enough, so dealing with a low click-through rate on your banner ads and pay-per-click advertising shouldn't be another factor adding onto your stress. Most companies today are aware that having a high click-through rate is beneficial for numerous reasons - delivering better site traffic, increased quality score (as rated by Google), and reduced cost-per-click for PPC campaigns. A good click-through rate makes up the center of the algorithms used by search engines to decide which ads viewers should be displayed. The formula to calculate your rate is simple: Divide clicks by impressions, and you'll get your click-through rate - however, just because you understand what a CTR is, and how you can calculate it, doesn't mean you know how to improve your results.

If you want to drive more beneficial traffic to your website - asking yourself the following three questions could help.

1. Could Your Ad Position Improve?

When optimizing conversions, one principle that is frequently underlined by experts, is that the ads, or banners that show up immediately when the page loads are the ones most likely to capture your user's attention. On the other hand, elements that users need to scroll down to see (located below the page fold), often generate less positive results.

The same concept stretches all the way from your website landing page, to the blogs that you publish, the advertisements you distribute, and your position on the results page of your search engine. If your ad appears higher on the search results pages, then you're likely to receive more clicks than if it shows up further down. This is the same strategy that people follow when they attempt to SEO optimize their websites, as users generally focus more on the information towards the top of the page. About 90% of searchers look at the premium ads displayed at the top of their Google results, in comparison to only 21-28% viewing the side ads. In other words, paying for premium ad placement could be a good investment.

2. Are Your Keyword Phrases and Ad Copy Similar?

Although a lot of experienced search marketers understand that it's important to keep the ad copy similar to the keyword phrase your audience uses to achieve a high click through rate, few understand that ad text relevance is actually more significant than the price or position of your ads. The reason behind this is that optimized ad copy lifts click-through rate in great positions by up to 160%. More importantly, the improved click-through rate exists for advertisements towards the bottom of the page, as well as adverts at the top - so regardless of where you show up in the listing, having the right copy in place could determine whether or not your click-through rate is a flop or a soaring success. A good way to manage ad copy is to break up your keywords into different groups, so that you can customize advertisements according to the keyword search term.

2. Are You Choosing Keyword Phrases with Low Competition?

One of the most under-appreciated and under-recognized factors that affects click-through rates comes in the form of bidding competitively for a specific search phrase. There are various ways to measure the competition surrounding your chosen search phrase, such as:

  • The number of words included in your phrase
  • The amount of competition suggested by search engines
  • The estimated click cost for each click
  • The number of advertisers bidding on the term

Research frequently suggests that it's much more beneficial for marketers to target a lot of particular searches, instead of trying to opt for a selection of broad terms. For instance, if you're a content marketing company, you're less likely to get a positive click-through rate using the PPC term "content marketing", than you are using the term "New York content marketing company". The amount of competition for a more specific phrase will be far lower, and the chances are you'll receive a far bigger percentage of interest from visiting users.

3. Enhancing Your Click through Rate

Although it's important to note that there is a lot more to consider in a successful advertising campaign than your click-through rate, CTR optimization certainly has a significant impact on the way that your return on investment. The higher your click through rate is, the more likely you are to get a high conversion rate - and after all, conversions is what business success online today are all about.

Topics: Cost-Per-Click Advertising, CPC, Pay-Per-Click Advertising, Click Through Rates, CTR, PPC

Tim Nichols

Written by Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols is a founding partner at ExactDrive, a digital media buying agency with white label, reseller and managed service options available. ExactDrive plans, manages, and optimizes online advertising campaigns with the objective of delivering measurable value and empowering clients to find precisely targeted audiences. ExactDrive has offices in Minneapolis, MN and Milwaukee, WI.

Tim Nichols is also a contributing author on Forbes.com.