5 Secrets I Use to Triple My AdWords CTR (without sacrificing conversion rate)


I know that people like to boast about their awesome CTR and stuff like that but did you know that most of the times, a good CTR often comes with a lower conversion rates.

Why you might ask? Because by achieving a good CTR, you need to use words in your ad copy that wouldn’t convert well (such as “free”, “get” and etc.), and most of that good CTR that people get usually don’t convert to sales.

But since people are obsessed with CTR, I’ve thought of a better solution for you.

How about you get to increase your CTR & keep your conversion rate? Sounds cool, right? That’s exactly what I am going to cover today in this blog post.

I’ll share with you the techniques/secrets that I’ve been using to triple AdWords ads CTR for myself and client’s campaigns.

Before we go any further, I’d tell you that I only write stuff that is purely based on the knowledge that I’ve acquired from experience in paid advertising so you can be sure that you will only get the good stuff from my blog.

What you will learn from this blog post

  • What factors influence your ad CTR
  • My secrets/techniques to triple CTR
  • Some tips & tricks about AdWords ads

3 factors that affect your ad CTR

Before you know how to fix something, you have to know what causes it, right? That’s why we will be talking about the 5 factors that can immensely affect your CTR (and inadvertently your ad cost, too).

1.) Keyword relevance

how much the search terms that you use interest the people searching for those keywords. If not, say goodbye to a good CTR.

2.)  Your bid strategies 

we all know that AdWords is an auction platform, the ones who are willing to pay the most will be show up at the top of the search.

If you are competing with big spenders with $20 a day budget, your CTR could be affected because your ad position could be so far down nobody would even see it.

3.) Your quality score

Google cares a lot about CTR because the better your CTR, the more they’ll earn $$$, and quality score is a way to let you know if you should fix your ad.

Now that we are on the same page, let’s dig deep into the secrets that I have been using over the years that have helped me increase my CTR without sacrificing my overall conversion rate.

CTR Secret #1: Always be specific with your offering in the headline

In the world where everyone expects things to be fast, not so many people will read through your headline and it’s been proven to be true.

According to a research study, they found that more than 65% of people nowadays share a story or news or whatever they read from just reading the headline.

Shocking, right? Not really. People have always been skimmers – they’ve just gotten worse because there’s more information to consume now ever than before – that’s why they have to skim even faster and that’s what happens.

Your prospects who search for information about what you have to offer will gladly scroll past your ads if it doesn’t match what they are looking for.

The reason is simple, there is so much information for your target audience to consume that they would rather ignore your ad altogether, if it’s not you – it’s someone else.

(tons of competition)

That’s why your ads need to be as specific as possible right off the bat and that is in your headline.

Have a look at these 3 hosting ads here, if I were to search for a hosting provider and I see these ads, I’d definitely go for the 3rd one because it’s the most specific and it’s written in an easy to read format.

What I like to do is to make sure my ad’s headlines are as clear as possible without any fluff like the second ad, you don’t need to add your website URL in the headline because it’s shown right below it anyway.

I treat my ad headline as a very expensive real estate (which it is) if I fuck up, then it would cost me a lot of money in the next weeks or months down the road because in AdWords, you don’t really know if the data is accurate until you’ve run the ad for a certain amount of time.

Sometimes I use Dynamic Ad Insertion where AdWords automatically inserts whatever the user is searching for in your ad headline, for example, if a user is the keyword “women shoes”, the keyword “women shoes” will automatically inserted into your ad headline.

Have a look at the example of DKI ads below.

(Dynamic Keyword Insertion ads)

I like DKI because It helps me add specificity to ad headlines without any extra work or research because Google will do all of the heavy lifting for me.

It works best with products that buyers search for a specific serial numbers.


Customers kinda expect us to read their minds and serve them with right ad otherwise they would never convert.

There is another way I like to do to be as specific as possible with my ad headline which instead of using dynamic keyword insertion, I just keywords that I consider to be in the same ad group together and then write specific headlines and ad copy for each keyword group.

Because I have seen DKI gone wrong before and sometimes I think that it’s a bit of a pain in the butt to make a successful DKI ads.

Take a quick look at DKI gone wrong.

(DKI gone wrong, LOL)

If you are like me and you want to have a full control of your ad headlines and copy, don’t leave your ad in the hands of Google without knowing what you are doing.

Otherwise your ad could be one of these “ad gone wrong examples”.

CTR Secret #2: Sneak numbers into the headline

Our brain doesn’t like to see complicated information and once complicated information is presented to us, we are either bored or want to ignore (of course, except people who love dealing with complicated information).

That’s why using numbers in your headline is a very effective thing to do in order to increase your CTR.

The reason is that numbers help our brain break down complicated information into smaller and more understandable chunks of information.

Take a quick look at the 2 examples below and let me know which one your brain understands faster.

  • seven-thousand-nine-hundred-and-seventy-five dollar was spent on eating out in two thousand fifteen at twenty two restaurants across nine cities.
  • $7,975 was spent on eating out in 2015 at 22 restaurants across 9 cities.

If the first one is easier for you to understand, it’s either you are lying or you are so much more intellectually advanced than us.

There’s an experiment to confirm this, according to Conductor, headlines with numbers get the most CTR.


In AdWords, it’s the same. People read your ad headline and make a quick decision if your ad has what they are looking for. Usually, that shouldn’t take longer than 2 seconds.

I’ve just done a quick search on “email marketing”, let’s see the results together.

These 2 ads have bad headline because they don’t have numbers and they are not clear about what the heck they are offering. Remember you have less than 3 seconds?

As I was searching through ads within “email marketing services” search term, I came up with nothing so I decided to give “digital marketing services” a shot.

And the results came up pretty satisfying, I’ve found an ad with a good headline.

This SEO agency use numbers to communicate to their target audience really well – even though the keyword targeting is kinda off (search for digital marketing services, not digital marketing but their ad shows up anyway), they did nail the headline copy.

Always sneak in some numbers into your headline especially if your services are complicated to understand.

CTR Secret #3: I milk ad extension to death!

Like I’ve said before that in the world of advertising whether it is digital or not, it’s always a battle of attention whoever wins the attention of the target audience wins.

Advertising is a battle of attention whoever gets the target audience attention ultimately wins

That’s why I always find a way to stand out from other competing ads and one of the things that I love the best in AdWords ad is their ad extension.

If you are not familiar with what it is, I have an example to show you.

Not only does ad extension help improve your Quality Score, it can help you stand out and ultimately win more clicks from the target audience, I am not kidding, Google said that ad extension improves CTR by 10% – 15%.

There’s a lot to talk about ad extension and I feel that it deserves another blog post itself.

Here are types of ad extension that AdWords offers.

(Types of ad extensions)

When you run ads with extensions, make sure that you aim for ad position 1 or 2 (I know I’ve advocated against it before) because it will give you an instant credibility.

Like this Hilton’s ad below.

(Hilton AdWords ad)

As you can see, their customers can make a reservation right from clicking a link on their ad. This removes friction (customers change their mind along the buying process) and shorten their way to conversion.

Keep in mind that ad extensions don’t always show up, so make sure you’ve written an awesome headline because that’s what you will need.

By now, I am sure you understand why I like to milk ad extensions so much, the ones who don’t seriously need to look into it because it could improve your CTR and conversion rate like you wouldn’t imagine.

CTR Secret #4: Make sure you add keywords to the display URL

I love this!

As I said that I like to run ads that are super specific to my target audience and one of the ways I can do is to add the targeting keyword into the display URL to make the target audience think that my ad is exactly what they are looking for.

Like this.

This will maximize the relevance of my ad and it helps me increase the CTR. I love using it. Since it is quite self-explanatory, I’ll skip explaining further and focus on the next secret.

CTR Secret #5: Add negative keywords like a mad man

One of the reasons why your ads don’t get a lot of clicks has to do with the keywords that you use are working against you.

I’ve wasted thousands of dollars before I got my head around negative keywords and my ads were never the same again because negative keywords were holding back my overall campaign performance and of course, my Quality score went down to shit.

From then whenever I found a negative keyword, I’ll add to my list without even thinking twice because every time I add it to the list, my ads improve a bit (sometimes a lot).

Take a quick look at what kind of ads show up when I search for “email marketing job”.

You see all these ads? They didn’t add the keyword “job” to their negative keyword list that’s why it shows up when you search for “email marketing job”.

This is a very mild example because it probably doesn’t cost the advertisers that much money but what if it’s a search term that is worth a lot more money?

So I did a little experiment and typed in “web hosting in Singapore”, let’s see the results together.

(Bad keyword targeting)

This keyword (web hosting in Singapore) is a buying keyword and web hosting service providers who don’t add countries that they don’t offer their services for will drive down their Quality Score.

If they really want to target Singapore when they have to write another ad just for this target audience group.

Negative keywords that you should always include in every one of your campaign.

There are keywords that have incredibly low conversion rate and most of the times, the traffic it brings isn’t worth the trouble you have to go through so I’ve compiled a list of negative keywords you should include in every one of your campaigns.

  • Free
  • Cheap
  • Nude
  • Naked
  • Sex
  • Porn
  • Porno
  • Torrent
  • Ebay
  • Youtube
  • Craigslist
  • Hire (other variations of this too, like hiring, hired and etc. )
  • Job
  • Career
  • Full time
  • Salary
  • Book
  • Course
  • Tutorial
  • Book
  • School
  • How to

Add these keywords to your negative keyword list and you have to regularly check the “search query report” because sooner or later, you will some low hanging fruit negative keywords that you can add to your list.

Once you start to target the right people, your CTR will naturally increase.

It’s your turn now!

After having read this blog post, I hope you’ll try it out on your own campaigns because increasing your ad CTR isn’t that hard and it surely isn’t rocket science.

All you need to do is to make sure you pay attention to your ad copy and your targeting and everything will be good to go.

But remember that increasing your ad CTR is only half the battle and you should always keep testing and keep learning.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comment below.

Good luck for today!