3 Stupid-Easy Ways to Increase Your Ad CTR


So you spilt your hot Starbucks on your new pants? Tripped over your shoelaces? Got a speeding ticket on the way to work? Oh great, and now your ad click-through rates are lower than expected. Man oh man, it’s just not your day!

Ad ctr funny image of Steve Carrell from the Office  

Life is tough enough. Dealing with low CTR’s on your PPC ads shouldn’t add to your stress. We all know that having high ad CTR is beneficial for many reasons, including increased site traffic (and hopefully increased conversions), increased quality scores (CTR is one of the main factors that affects quality score), and reduced cost-per-click (the higher your quality score, the less you pay). Basically, improving your CTR has a long list of beautiful benefits.

Try out these three stupid-easy ways to increase the CTR of your ads, which all require minimal effort and zero frustration.

#1: Put a Special Offer in Your Headline

Yup, you heard that right. Stop reserving your special promotions for line one or two of your descriptive text, and start displaying them right in your headlines. Why does this work? For several reasons – the main being that the headline of your ad is the first thing and sometimes the only thing searchers read. Additional reasons include the fact that everyone loves discounts (because saving money, duh), the word “free” lights up the human brain, and numbers in headlines always tend to perform well (this goes for content as well: I used the title above for a reason).

Ad ctr example of an ad with a special offer in the headline 

#2: Put Your Main Keyword in Your Display URL

This tip is insanely easily, but shockingly underutilized. The display URL IS part of your ad text, and should be utilized as such, but often advertisers just leave it blank… When you’re limited by character length restriction on each line, not taking advantage of keyword placement in your display URL is a major CTR faux paus. Take a look at these two ads for comparison.

 Ad CTR example of an ad with a keyword in the display URL


 Ad CTR example of an ad without a keyword in the display URL

Which one’s taking better advantage of their display URL? The first ad of course. After searching for “Yoga Classes in Boston” I was greeted with the first ad, which utilized my search query in both the headline and again in the display URL. The second ad is much more general and doesn’t include any keyword in the display URL. Take a lucky guess on which one I opted to click on…

Out of roughly 580,000 ads we analyzed, 33% neglected to have keywords in their display URL. “I was surprised to see how many client accounts weren't utilizing a keyword in their display URL’s,” says WordStream’s Erin Sagin. “It’s a super easy win.” At WordStream, we consistently find that ads with keywords in their display URL’s have much higher CTR than ads without.

#3: Add a Period to the End of Description Line One

And lastly, this has to be the easiest fix to beat the system and get higher ad CTR’s. Seriously, it couldn’t get much simpler than this. Wait, so what is the point of adding a period at the end of line one exactly? Well, as you know you are limited to 25 characters in the headline of your ad text, while the description lines allot you 35 characters max. Adding a period to the end of your first description line scoops that line into the headline when your ad appears in the top spots on the SERPs.

UPDATE: A few people were confused about this one so I included a screenshot of the before and after to show how the ad would look once a period is added. 

 Ad CTR example of an ad with a longer headline

As you can see in the before image the headline is quite short, but once you add a period to the end of the description line that reads "Get Help Finding a Career You Love" it gets scooped into the headline when the ad appears at the top of the page. This works to improve CTR for several reasons, the main one being that, as we discussed previously, the headline is the first and sometimes the only part of an ad that the searcher reads. Therefore this small hack gives you the ability to say more and gain more real estate with a larger, more prominent font size on the SERPs.

There you have it. So stop moping over spilled coffee (or low CTR’s) and implement these quick wins to easily up your ad CTR with minimal effort.

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About the Author:

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream with a background in PPC, SEM, content and digital marketing. Margot is passionate about writing and is also a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal and socialmediatoday.com. Margot was recently named the 25th Most Influential PPC Expert in 2015 by PPC Hero. She enjoys running, taking naps on the beach, and eating ice cream during her free time.

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Aug 12, 2015

hi Margot

Before I do any campaing I try to spy my competitor and I always get good CTR

Margot da Cunha
Aug 12, 2015

Hi Claude,

That's another great technique. It's a good strategy to keep an eye on competitor ads and find a way to stand out and make yours more compelling.

Thanks for sharing!

Aug 12, 2015

Very important but easy tips here. It's important to do everything you can to market your company's website. Thanks for sharing this!

Margot da Cunha
Aug 12, 2015

Anytime! Thanks for reading Jordan.

Aug 13, 2015

No screen shots or whatever was supposed to be an illustration :(

Aug 13, 2015

#3 has been happening to some of my ads without me realising what's going on. Now I know, thanks so much Margot!

Margot da Cunha
Aug 13, 2015


Harald Schendera
Aug 13, 2015

It took me some time to understand #3. Add a period to the end of the description line? I was starring at the image for that period. Where was it hiding? Did she mean the dash? Then it finally clicked. Thank you for this simple, yet priceless tip.

Elisa Gabbert
Aug 13, 2015

Yeah if it's not completely clear above -- the period does NOT show up in the ad. But it makes the first line get pulled up into the headline. :)

Aug 13, 2015

Is the same true for if you end it with an exclamation point? Or should we always reserve exclamation points for the second line?

Margot da Cunha
Aug 13, 2015

We'd recommend using a period or question mark rather then an exclamation point. It's not clear if Google would allow this or not, but they typically disprove ads with exclamation points in the headline.

Aug 13, 2015

I know they don't accept it in the headline, but I thought that this is referring to adding a period to the first description line? And then they are dropping the period anyway so they could also drop the exclamation point instead, right? Just not sure if Google still considers exclamation points in their punctuation match for this?

Aug 14, 2015

Very nice article. Particularly the 3rd point. I like it very much.

Happy to follow you Margot.

Margot da Cunha
Sep 02, 2015

Thanks! So happy you enjoyed it!

vikas singh
Aug 14, 2015

Its good to see a new tips, this is my first comment, as I am running ads for tour campaign I am getting max 99% conversion in ads like I am Used in heading.
, Tashkent Trip in 32000/ , while Tashkent tour from or best package I am Not Getting any conversion, and all my conversion in top 3 position in search network, is their any other trick to get more result in it.

Aug 17, 2015

Interesting tips. Did you test adding the period vs. having an exclamation point at the end of line 1? I know the punctuation is supposed to help CTR so adding a period makes the line less dramatic but the benefit of the whole line being displayed may be more beneficial. Let me know your thoughts please.

Aug 22, 2015

Thanks for this insightful article. Please, I need a bit of help from you.
I am not used to Google Adwords but would want to start off, is there any tutorial guide/video to guide me on how to use Adwords (especially GDN) to do MaxBounty CPA offers (for which I am registered with?

Thank you.

Aug 24, 2015

Increasing CTR is one thing and ROI is something completely different; CTR should be part of the goal but ROI the ultimate goal.

Most PPC advertisers now go for the 'Discount' option; that is offering potential customers something really tangible and that's a great way to drum up business.

The downside to PPC advertising can be the overall cost; after all bidding against others has noticeably increased the cost of advertising.

Stewart Brown
Aug 25, 2015

Thanks for re-confirming your tips here. However, I have tried all these plus some and I can't move my scores or my CTR's in the right direction. The only thing that moves is the costs and they go the wrong way every single time. I want to continue with my PPC but its really not designed for people in small business. I had a suggestion from a Google "expert" who said I should a change a keyword by adding broad match modifiers. I did that and my first page bid estimate went up from $1.75 to $14 in just a few hours. The end result of course was that being under the first page bid, the Google system chokes out my impressions and that's all she wrote. Is there really any way small business can utilise PPC systems to source clients without being ripped off?

Elisa Gabbert
Aug 25, 2015

Hi Stewart, a lot of our customers are small businesses actually! PPC is tricky at first and it can take a little while to adjust things so that you're getting a profit off your clicks. have you tried using the AdWords Grader to diagnose problems in your account?

Matthew Farrelly
Mar 09, 2016

Thank you so much, I'll give this a try!

naveen dagar
May 01, 2016

great idea thnk u

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Dec 26, 2016

First of all I would like to say awesome blog!

I had a quick question that I'd like to ask if you don't mind.
I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head before writing.
I have had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there.
I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are
wasted simply just trying to figure out how
to begin. Any suggestions or hints? Appreciate it!

Yasar Ali
Jun 06, 2016

Thanks, awesome content.

Jul 01, 2016

How to Add a Period to the End of Description Line One to improve the CTR?

Can you please explain the steps?

Jul 09, 2016

Thanks for sharing this information.
Very useful stuff which we almost always overlook!

Alexander E Doak
Jul 29, 2016

So the period at the end of the description line is no longer a valid tip as far as I can tell. Now they have two heading lines that both appear in the ad title. Can someone verify?

Erin Sagin
Aug 01, 2016

Yep! If you're moving over to Expanded Text Ads, you'll no longer have to optimize for the mega-headline.

Jul 17, 2017

at some ad networks like revcontent, they use the suspense as a tool for clicks, and they earn about 3% ctr. I'm more concerned with google though, don't know why my ctr is so low? people apparently don't like to click on advertisements?

Jamie Irwin
Aug 09, 2017

"For several reasons – the main being that the headline of your ad is the first thing and sometimes the only thing searchers read."

You missed out 'reason'. Sorry, I'm a good proofreader :)

Nov 28, 2017

No, there is no need to add another 'reason' in there. The sentence reads fine, since there is already a "For several reasons" at the front. The rest of the sentence is to elaborate what those reasons are.

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