All accounts have their ups and downs. This week we’re all about how we troubleshoot the “downs,” offering the practical application of PPC know-how to solve major mysteries plaguing your account’s performance. Eric and Carrie have already given a few tips on how to address the source of bad lead quality and how to increase a low conversion rate; now we’ll help you pull more searchers in to the funnel in the first place!

We should get a few qualifying notes out of the way so we can focus on the meat and potatoes of the “how to,” here…

Click-through rate is rarely, if ever, the target or goal metric of a PPC campaign.


Advertisers do not and should not want every impression to turn in to a click – ad copy can be used as a disqualifier, too!


The PPC Hero team would never tell you to ignore things like conversion rate, ROAS, or other bottom-line metrics in order to focus on CTR.


However the ultimate truth of PPC is this – you can’t get a conversion without a click, so how can you get the largest volume of the right clicks?

I am of the opinion that CTR and average CPC are two of the hardest metrics to keep leveled out. They seem to fluctuate (even if only a little) constantly; they’re somewhat forgettable when you are focused on bigger picture metrics, and the worst part? Logic isn’t always helpful. For instance, I’ve tested ad copy before that led with ‘50% Off Entire Stock” to run against competitors who were running no sales at all and guess what? Fewer clicks. Tragic.

It’s not all clicks, either – you’ve got to look at the impression half of things. A huge jump in CTR could mean you eliminated a ton of impression share. And hey, maybe some of that share should be eliminated, but don’t pat yourself on the back for a CTR job well done if you’re not really pushing more clicks, just fewer impression opportunities.

All right I’m done yammering…here’s an example of how you can bring your CTR back from the dead in a few simple optimizations:


These could be individual placements on the Display network, or specific keywords for either network, but look at where your ads are showing and determine those areas that are spending without being productive; in whatever way you’ve defined “productive.” I say that because you don’t always just want to exclude a placement if it’s not converted – is it contributing to conversions later via view-throughs, etc.? Nonetheless, put some time in to looking at the individual components of your by-network traffic and make sure some wasted spend isn’t getting lost in the averages that could be more useful elsewhere.

Audit Your Offer

This one can become really easy to let slip by if you’re not necessarily dedicated to testing or rotating ad copy. Many times I’ve found an offer that worked, but then the offer changed just slightly and I forgot to accommodate in my ad copy. You know what happens? Customers lose trust in what you’re telling them they’ll get on your landing page and over time your interaction rates go down because now your competitors have caught their eye. This could also be a change in your competitor’s offer, which could now be more attractive than yours. In either situation, be sure to stay diligent about what you’re promising in your copy, because a customer scorned is hard to recover.

New Competitors, Period?

Speaking of what your competitive landscape looks like from an ad copy perspective – is it possible some new competitors have jumped in the pool that weren’t there before? Depending on how deep their pockets are, they could get up there in ad rankings pretty quickly without necessarily putting in the historical hard work you probably have to evenly earn your spot with the right bid and Quality Score combination. Don’t let them just take that real estate! What’s their brand about? A new competitor may mean the need for a new defense. Seek out their benefits and value statements and determine what you can post up against that to maintain your click share.

Compacted Bid Adjustments

You may have finally added the straw the broke the camels back…so prepare for some undoing. Especially in accounts that are fairly consistent in terms of average CPC, over time multiple minor bid adjustment passes will compact on one another and trip over the ledge – possibly down a half a position or so – and your CTR goes over the ledge with it. The marketplace can be, and very much is, that delicate; manage accordingly. I’ve found bid adjustments worth approximately $.02/click over about a week’s time on a handful of terms that have contributed to full percentage points lost in CTR. Make sure as you’re bookending current bid changes, you’re considering the previous few adjustments, as well.

Ad Group Structure

How often do you add new keywords to your account? And how often do you add them to new ad groups, compared to adding them to existing ones? Sometimes when you add 1 or 2 new terms it feels inefficient to start a new ad group, but then the slippery slope mentality takes over and you end up adding 5-10 and before you know it, your ad group is rocking 30+ terms and the ad copy can’t address all the assigned queries. Drop in CTR as fast as you can say CTR. Look at where you may have opportunity to pull out a few new ad groups and re-target your ad copy accordingly.

Test. Your. Copy.

I say it all the time, and still yet – people don’t listen. I don’t mean that harshly, but c’mon guys. Searchers are getting smarter! They notice when we don’t change up our ad copy and it only irritates their already exaggerated distrust. Set up a schedule and matrix to test and stick to it! You and/or your client, your customers and your PPC performance will be happy you did.

What are your favorite CTR-rescuing tactics? Share them with us, as well as results you’ve seen from them, in the comments section below!