This article was first published as a guest post on CertifiedKnowledge, June 14, 2011.
Awesome artwork by Nonneta.
If I ask you what you need to do in order to increase your ads’ click-through-rates (CTR) for higher quality scores, your immediate answer might be: write a better ad.
And you’d be right. Mostly.
It’s not the only way and too often advertisers rely on ad spit-testing alone when trying to achieve a higher CTR (myself included).
If you’ve read a little about quality score (QS), you know that the biggest factor that influences it is CTR. When we plan about increasing CTR, new ads in more focused ad groups come to mind, sometimes we even remember to include and keep expanding a good list of negative keywords (although we know that that has no direct impact on QS).
What we often forget is that ads have varying performances depending on the hour of the day or the geographical region in which they are displayed. Two things that Google takes into account when calculating quality score but are rarely talked about.
If you’ve hit a brick wall and can’t improve your CTR no matter how hard you try, these are the 2 targeting settings that might get you the results you want.
You may be getting lots of impressions at 2 in the morning but very little clicks and conversions without even knowing it. If that’s the case, it would be very beneficial to prevent your ads from showing at those times of the day.
To find out how your ads are performing by the hour of the day:
- Choose a campaign in your adwords account.
- Click on the “dimensions” tab (or make the dimensions tab viewable in the sub menu).
- Click the “view” sub-menu and select “hour of day”.
You should now be able to see at what times of the day your ad group is under performing.
The next thing to do is to exclude your ads from showing at those times by changing your campaigns settings: Advanced Settings > Ad Scheduling. Make sure your data has reached statistical significance.
When you do that, the average CTR recorded for your keywords will start to increase and your quality scores will slowly rise.
If you’re like most advertisers, your adwords campaigns are probably set to show on the whole territory of your chosen country right now (or even many countries at once). If you run a geographic report in adwords, you will find that your ads perform better in some specific regions than others.
You need to find the regions where your ads perform really poorly and exclude your ads from showing there.
To find out how your ads are performing by specific regions in the country you’re targeting:
- Choose a campaign or an ad group in your adwords account.
- Go to the “dimensions” tab once again.
- Click on the “view” sub-menu and select “Geographic”.
Now you can see the specific regions where you might be receiving lots of impressions but low clicks and conversions compared to others.
Exclude those areas in your campaigns settings: Under Locations and Languages>Locations click edit.
A window will pop up, look for the Exclude areas within selected locations link at the bottom of that window and exclude the areas that are poorly performing for you.
If you don’t want to completely exclude those areas, you might consider creating a separate campaign for them.
When you do that, your average CTR will also slowly rise since it won’t be affected by low performing locations and it will result in better scores.
Those are two quick but very rewarding actions that you can take right now to achieve higher CTR’s and better scores.
In case you’re wondering how effective these two little techniques can be, here’s what Brad confided to me in email conversation (don’t tell him that I told you):
“I can’t agree more with your two points – I do it all the time – in fact I have an account that just by changing the geo settings and splitting up the ads by their geo CTRs, the accounts CTR almost doubled.” ~ Brad Geddes
If you want to track how these actions affect your keyword’s quality scores and your first page minimum bids, I’d like to invite to you to try our Quality Score tracking tool.
Important Words Of Caution
- Before excluding your ads from showing at a certain time of day, make sure you have enough data to make the right decision. Use a tool like this one to see if your data has reached statistical significance.
- DO NOT use CTR as your only measure of performance. Google uses CTR to increase or lower your scores and as a result, increase or lower your CPCs… however, it is not a measure of your profitability. Learn about Profit Per Impression and use it as the final verdict.