A Round-Up of PPC CTR and Ad Optimization Tips

CTR optimization is all about testing. The synergy between the keyphrase someone looks for and the ad that you present them is vital (not forgetting the keyword that triggers the ad in your account, and the space between the search term and searcher intent left by match-type).

I’ve compiled tips and tricks from some of the best in the business to help you revamp your PPC campaigns and increase your CTRs. Okay I’m honestly going to try and give you guys some decent tips, but am I doing a disservice if I leave out some of the basics? No! I mean Yes! I mean… well, okay I’ll group the basics at the very start here (that might be the wrong place for them because you’ll lose interest, but trust me, juicy stuff towards the middle and all the way to the end). To start things off, here’s a tip from little ole me:

Negatives’r Gnarly

When setting up your campaigns, put a whole lot of thought into searcher intent and the standard profile of your audience, then try and translate that into a bone-crushing list of negative keywords. Creativity and lateral thinking are key here — for more tips see a previous round-up of tips I did on this topic (click the negatives’r gnarly link).

Some simple tips from Shimon Sandler

If appropriate include a strong call to action right in your ad text. Giving the surfer a reason to click is sure to help your CTR — just don’t lead them on and not fulfil what your ad projects, or you’re just wasting money. Shimon also recommends using dynamic keyword insertion. This is something I would love some more comments on. I think DKI is likely only to be useful as a whole to a PPC account in very specific circumstances. There are big names like e-bay that DKI into everything and bid on everything — they’re horrid ads. Then there are computer memory distributors who use DKI and send people directly to extremely specific product pages, for them it works amazingly.

Another couple of basic tips come by way of WMTips.com:

Keep your ad-groups small and tight. By grouping your keywords all sorts of tightly, and writing your ads specifically for those keywords, you will give yourself a large advantage over your lazy competition, and it will increase your CTR every single time. Use specific numbers. Numbers create interest and specific numbers create curiosity. They won’t always perform better, but try to test the impact of including numbers in your ad. If you can, include a very specific number such as “314” instead of “300+” or “76.83%” instead of “75%”. (umm, be real careful with the whole idea of false advertising here — I love the idea of specific numbers, but they have to be real.) Test multiple versions of your display URL. While you should experiment with capitalization (i.e. “DomainName.com” vs “domainname.com”), you should also experiment with “www”, sub domains, and pages. It usually, but not always, increases the CTR when you include the keywords in your URL. (authors note: I’ve also seen people recommend using BRAND NAMES in their display URLs , or as subdomains, like apple.laptopdeals.com which makes a lot of sense — but that may have been an old tip, in the past it was possible to put brands into your display URL even if you couldn’t bid on them, which may not be the case anymore).

Godda love the tips coming out of PPCFool.com

Dave over at PPC fool writes about SHOCK advertising. Basically this is defined as deliberately, rather than inadvertently, startling and offending the audience by violating societal norms or personal ideals This is an old copywriting and advertising technique, obviously, but Dave shows us how to translate it into modern PPC advertising. It’s simple, just use shocking words:

  • Exposed
  • Scam
  • Naughty
  • Sneaky
  • Secrets
  • Wicked
  • Yucky
  • Disgusting

Some of these words, like secrets and exposed and scam, play into specific psychological needs of consumers. Others, like sneaky, wicked, naughty, play into pure curiosity “either way you’re likely to increase CTR” but again be aware of how it’s going to affect your overall conversion rates. Don’t put the word scam in your ad, and then not address it on your landing page, that would be a pure fail.

The super smart (read, Irish) folks over at Red Fly Marketing have wisdom to share:

Instead of just paying lip service to the idea of including a “strong call to action” in your ad, they break down what they believe goes into one. Invaluable stuff. RFM believes in strength in ad-copy, whether it be through simple strong words, like:

  • Guaranteed
  • Discover
  • Proven
  • Safe

And calls to actionn like:

  • Book Now
  • Reserve
  • Discover Your
  • Order Now

As far as strong words go, I know that “guaranteed” is quite strong (essential if you’re of the MindValley labs persuasion), and weaker words like “proven” and “discover” can still add a lot of clickability to otherwise dry ad copy. RFM recommends matching a strong word up with a strong call to action to build your ad, like joining guaranteed and order now. Guaranteed Satisfaction so Order Now! Who wouldn’t click that? I’d click that, my grandma would click that!

Next up on the tips too good to ignore boat is Dave Davis (the Red Fly guy, yeah) but via WebPro business.com

Use the Registered Trademark ASCII symbol in your ads : this is a great way to look authoritative and professional, which will likely increase your CTR. Put your price in the headline : earlier we mentioned using specific numbers in your ad copy, this goes further by quoting your actual prices. This can obviously be a headache if there are constant changes or you don’t manage your PPC campaigns at a fine level, but if you’ve got static prices and they’re competitive, brag about it. Seasonal headlines — another great tip from Dave is to use words like Xmas or Easter in your ad copy and headlines when it’s that time of year. This creates a sense of validity in the ad, showing that you’re not only offering a time-limited sale, and that your company is quick and nimble enough to do so, implying that they’re also likely to be quick in shipping, and responsive.

Our last contributor today is topseo.org, with a couple of simple gems:

Decide what is most important to your customers and what differentiates you from your competitors and highlight these benefits in your ad copy (surprising how often this basic and intuitive task is left by the wayside). Present yourself as the answer to your customer’s problems. Think about the problems your prospects have, how you can solve those problems, and then determine how you can present the best solution in 95 characters or less. There you go folks, a nice little round-up of ad-copy and CTR tips for your PPC account management pleasure.

Naoise Osborne

Naoise Osborne

A former member of the Acquisio team, Naoise was the Search Engine Marketing Director at Catalytics, the services arm of Acquisio before that was sold off so that the company could focus more on developing the Acquisio platform. In his role at Catalytics, Naoise managed SEO strategy for agencies across North America. Today, Naoise is based in Montreal where he is a founding partner of AOD Media Group Inc., which specializes in SEO, analytics and Facebook marketing.

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