You’ve noticed a drop in search volume. Is there a reason to panic? Yes. You may miss out on potential business opportunities.
Every click your business misses means your competitors are taking customers away from you.
about only 3% For website visitors who convert, it’s even more important to capture those clicks in the first place to bring them to your website.
So, what about an unexpected drop in clicks? How do you find the cause and correct the situation?
Short answer? You need to dig deeper.
Whether you’re new to Google Ads or, like me, have been analyzing hundreds of accounts for 10 years, you need to learn to analyze campaign performance at the surface level.
In this article, we’ll review not only the basics of click-through rate (CTR) and what it means, but also some of the key areas you need to gain insight into performance that can determine a drop in traffic.
What is CTR?
One of the metric definitions that hasn’t changed in Google Ads over the years is click-through rate.
CTR is a relatively simple formula: The number of clicks your ad received divided by the number of times your ad was shown: Clicks ÷ Impressions.
While CTR is a simple calculation, it is one of the more important metrics to help analyze performance.
If you think CTR can only be used to measure compelling ad copy, think again.
So, what is the purpose of CTR? Some applications using CTR include:
- Measure the relevance and quality of your ads.
- Determine the competitiveness of keywords and ads.
- Analyze the gap between campaign budget and keyword bids.
When your CTR suffers, this directly affects clicks.
Now that CTR is defined, and we have a use case for the metric, you may be wondering “what is a good CTR?”
A recent study from Instapage Note that the average CTR for searches across all industries is 5.06%.
Don’t worry if your average CTR doesn’t reach the industry average! Follow these comprehensive tips to help get your CTR and traffic back to par.
Why have my clicks decreased?
Can’t explain the sudden drop in click performance? Here are some common causes to help determine the cause.
1. Has your Quality Score dropped recently?
While the Quality Score metric shouldn’t be viewed as “everything is over,” this oft-overlooked metric can be the root cause of a drop in traffic.
Quality Score measures these key components of an ad:
- Expected CTR.
- Ad relevance.
- Landing page relevance.
Google Ads shows you a relatively detailed view of each area, so you don’t have to guess where to focus on optimizing.
Quality Score is important because it directly affects how often your ad is eligible to show. Not only that, but it also affects how much you pay per click.
solution: Optimize your Quality Score based on the “rank” Google gives your keywords.
Some of these fixes may be easier to implement (such as new ad copy), but if you need to optimize your landing pages, it may take time and other resources.
A comprehensive guide to optimizing your Quality Score can be found here.
2. Low impression
If your CTR remains stable but clicks drop, the main problem: fewer impressions.
A sudden drop in impressions can be due to a variety of factors, but the following are the most common:
If you have seasonal products, there will naturally be troughs and peaks in your demand.
If search volume for your particular industry drops, your keywords will also get fewer impressions.
Updated bid strategy
If you’ve recently modified your bid strategy, your daily budget may be out of sync with your target ROAS/CPA/CPC goals.
Any significant gap expected here could result in a sharp drop in impressions.
For example, if you bid on a competitive keyword with a CPA target of $50, but typically see a CPA of $150, this will cause the number of impressions to fluctuate almost immediately.
The way CPA and ROAS strategies work is to limit impressions to users who are unlikely to convert to your goals.
new negative keywords
Like many advertisers, you have to tighten your negative keywords. This is due to Google relaxing restrictions on keyword match types.
However, you may accidentally limit negative keywords too much. This can lead to lost impressions due to conflicting negations.
So, what can you do to combat low impressions?
solution: Aside from any seasonal issues, review your current bid strategy and make sure your goals are aligned (and realistic) with your performance goals.
Also, comb through your negative keyword list to find any conflicts that are preventing your ad from showing.
3. New ad
So you’ve written shiny new ad copy and implemented them across the board. You’re happy to see that the improved ad copy is better than the previous ad.
However, you find the opposite happens and your traffic plummets.
What is given?
Essentially, every time you make an update to your campaign (especially your ad copy), you’ve put your campaign back into learning mode. During this period, you may see fluctuations in performance. As Google’s algorithm learns what resonates most with users, you may see a drop in CTR.
Obviously, this is not ideal for any advertiser. You’ve spent time perfecting a new copy, but you’re watching it perform worse. So, what can we learn from this scenario?
solution: A/B test your new ads before pausing all “old” ads. This helps reduce the inevitable performance fluctuations of pausing all old ads and replacing them with new ones.
If you’re not sure where to start with A/B testing, find this helpful guide here.
4. Your competitors outbid you
Competition is out of your control. They may have a bigger budget or more interesting ad copy than you. All of these items are beyond your control.
What you can control is how you deal with the competition.
Let’s say your keyword’s max CPC is set to $5, but you notice that your competitors are consistently showing above you. This most likely means that a competitor is outbidding you.
solution: If you have the budget, an easy remedy is to be more aggressive in your bid strategy. This helps increase impressions and clicks when you show up more often.
Learn more about using Smart Bidding effectively here.
Another example is if a competitor’s ad copy is better than yours. Say you’re selling a similar product, but your competitor has a promotion and you don’t. Which ad do you think is likely to get more clicks?
Most likely a promotional ad.
solution: If you don’t have/can’t run a promotion, review your ad copy to determine how you can stand out from the competition.
Make sure you use all relevant ad extensions to help improve ad position and space on your page. Always check the ad preview tool to make sure your ad is still the most engaging on the page.
If you suddenly feel a drop in clicks, take a step back and make a game plan before panicking.
Often, the answer to this question is hidden beneath the surface.
If you take the time to dig deeper and analyze the data, you may discover the root cause of your campaign’s stagnant performance.
With these tips, you can create your own game plan to instantly improve your Google Ads performance.
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