The Ultimate Low Click-Through Rate Analysis


Account analyses of any kind are some of my favorite tasks. I love digging in and finding the source of problems and helping come up with effective solutions. One analysis I recently ran for an account was a low click-through rate analysis. I think many times those low CTR keywords slip through the cracks and are left to slowly wreak havoc on Quality Score. This type of analysis can seem daunting, especially if you manage a large account with thousands of keywords, so I hope you find my low CTR analysis to be an effective tool in helping you efficiently identify and analyze problem areas in your accounts! 

Getting Started

The first step is to head into the AdWords or Bing ads interface, or whatever engine you’d like to analyze performance for, go to the Keywords tab and create a low CTR filter. You can tailor this to a specific account goal, or if one doesn’t exist, try this: the baseline I normally use is CTR less than 1% and impressions greater than or equal to 100. From there, you can break your low CTR keywords into five buckets for further analysis.

#1) Below First Page Bid/Low Average Position

Some keywords might have low CTRs just because they’re in low positions. If you’ve got the budget to spare and the account can take a potential uptick in CPC, then consider raising bids on keywords below the first page bid estimate or those in low average positions. Of course you’ll want to review performance for each term and refrain from increasing bids for any poor performing keywords, but for those with low traffic and/or good performance and low CTR, consider giving them a boost to help improve visibility – and hopefully CTR and lead generation. I would recommend adding a label to these keywords and reviewing performance every couple of weeks to determine if the bid changes were effective or not.

#2) Low Intent

Especially for accounts with multiple cooks in the kitchen or accounts where keyword choices might be dictated or heavily influenced by the client, you may end up with some terms that are simply low intent. If these low intent keywords also have bad performance based on account goals, then an analysis like this may help you open up the door to a conversation about pausing those ineffective terms; this would be especially important for accounts with budget constraints, as you’ll want the limited budget to be used for high-intent, profitable terms.

#3) Bad Queries

In some cases, you might have keywords with low CTRs due to irrelevant search queries. You may review a search terms report regularly, but it can still be easy for irrelevant terms to slip through when you’re looking at the report in bulk. Look at the search terms for these keywords individually and add negative keywords to help combat their low CTRs. Reviewing the data this granularly can also help you identify some areas where you could improve keyword mapping for your ad groups.

#4) High Competition

Some of the keywords may be struggling to gain high CTRs due to high competition. Take a look at Auction Insights for these terms and see who you’re up against. Review competitors’ ads and landing pages to see where they have a leg up. You could take this a step further like I did and compile a list of recommendations for the client with items to test in ad copy and on landing pages based on what competitors are doing.

#5) Ad Copy

As you review these low CTR terms, you might find some instances where the ad copy in the associated ad groups could be improved. Are you utilizing keywords in your Display URLs? Have you set up any recent ad tests? The keyword might be in a fairly high average position, it might be high intent, low competition and be matching to relevant queries, but the ad copy just needs some sprucing up to help provide a lift in click-through rate.

Although click-through rate is not typically the KPI for PPC accounts, it’s still one that directly impacts Quality Score and an important metric that deserves review. While the importance of optimizing for Quality Score has been debated, CTR in itself is an important metric to analyze and can be helpful in determining areas of improvement in your accounts.

What about you? Do you regularly review accounts for low CTR? If so, what’s your strategy? Let us know in the comments section below!