You noticed a drop in search volume. Is there any reason to be alarmed? Yes. You could be missing out on potential business opportunities.
Every click your business misses means your competitor is taking customers away from you.
With only around 3% of website visitors converting, capturing those clicks is even more crucial to getting them to your site in the first place.
So what do you do when the volume of clicks drops unexpectedly? How to find the cause and remedy the situation?
The short answer? You have to dig deeper.
Whether you’re new to Google Ads or you’ve been analyzing hundreds of accounts like me for 10 years, you need to learn how to analyze campaign performance below the surface.
In this article, we’ll not only look at the basics of click-through rate (CTR) and what it means, but also some of the key areas you’ll need to dig into performance that identify your drop in click volume.
What is CTR?
One of the metric definitions that hasn’t changed over the years in Google Ads is CTR.
CTR is a relatively simple formula: the number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown: clicks ÷ impressions.
Although CTR is a simple calculation, it is one of the most essential metrics to help analyze performance.
Think again if you thought CTR could only be used to evaluate compelling ad content.
So what is the purpose of CTR? Some applications of using CTR include:
- Measure ad relevance and quality.
- Identify the competitiveness of keywords and ads.
- Analyze variances between campaign budgets and keyword bids.
When your CTR suffers, it has a direct impact on click volume.
Now that CTR has been defined and we have use cases for the metric, you’re probably wondering, “What’s a good CTR?”
A recent Instapage study noted that the average CTR for search was 5.06% across all industries.
If your average CTR doesn’t match industry averages, don’t worry! Follow these comprehensive tips to help restore your CTR and click volume.
Why is my click volume decreasing?
Can’t explain the sudden drop in click performance? Here are some of the common reasons to help identify the cause.
1. Has your Quality Score dropped recently?
While measuring Quality Score shouldn’t be considered the end of the world, this often underestimated metric can be a root cause of declining click volume.
Quality Score measures these key elements of your ad:
- Expected CTR.
- Ad relevance.
- Landing page relevance.
Google Ads shows you a relatively detailed view of each of these areas, so you don’t have to guess what you should be focusing on optimizing.
Quality Score is important because it has a direct impact on how often your ads show. Not only that, but it also affects how much you pay per click.
The solution: Optimize Quality Score based on the “ratings” Google gives you for your keywords.
Some of these fixes might be easier to implement (like new ad copy), but if you need to optimize your landing page, it might take time and other resources.
A complete guide to optimizing the Quality Score is available here.
2. Low impressions
If your CTR has remained stable but the volume of clicks is decreasing, the main problem is this: a decrease in impressions.
Several factors can explain a sudden drop in the number of impressions, but here are the most common:
If you have a seasonal product, you will naturally experience peaks and troughs in demand.
If searches go down for your particular industry, impressions for your keywords will also go down.
Updated bidding strategy
If you recently changed your bid strategy, there may be a mismatch between your daily budget and your target ROAS/CPA/CPC.
Any large deviation in expectations here can lead to a sharp drop in impressions.
For example, if you set your bids to a CPA target of $50 for competing keywords, but you typically see a CPA of $150, this will cause almost instant volatility in impressions.
The way CPA and ROAS strategies work is to limit impressions to users who are not likely to convert to your goal.
New negative keywords
Like many advertisers, you had to tighten your negative keywords. This is because Google has relaxed restrictions on keyword match types.
However, you may have accidentally narrowed negative keywords too much. This can result in lost prints due to conflicting negatives.
So what can you do to combat low impressions?
The solution: Seasonality issues aside, review your current bid strategies and ensure targets are aligned (and realistic) with your performance goals.
Also, comb through your negative keyword lists to identify any conflicts that are preventing your ad from showing.
3. New announcements
So you wrote brilliant new ad copy and implemented it across the board. You are delighted to see that your improved ad content outperforms your previous ads.
But, you discovered that the opposite is happening and your click volume is dropping.
Essentially, every time you update your campaigns, and in particular the advertising content, you put your campaign back into learning mode. During this period, you can expect performance volatility. You can see the CTR drop as Google’s algorithm learns what resonates best with users.
Obviously, this is not ideal for any advertiser. You’ve spent time perfecting a new copy and you see it deteriorating. So what can we learn from this scenario?
The solution: A/B test your new ads before pausing all “old” ads. This can help reduce the inevitable performance volatility 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 not something you can control. They may have a bigger budget or more interesting ad copy than you. All of these are beyond your control.
What you can control is how you react to the competition.
Let’s say your maximum CPC on a keyword is set at $5, but you notice that a competitor is constantly showing above you. This most likely means that the competitor is outbidding you.
The solution: If you have the budget capacity, a simple remedy would be to be more aggressive in your bidding strategy. This can help increase the volume of impressions and clicks as you show up more often.
Learn more about using smart bidding strategies effectively here.
Another example is if a competitor has better ad copy than you. Suppose you sell a similar product, but a competitor offers a promotion while you do not. Which ad do you think is likely to generate the most clicks?
Most likely, the promotional ad.
The solution: If you are not/cannot run a promotion, review your ad copy to determine how you can stand out from the competition.
Be sure to use all relevant ad extensions to improve ad rank and page space. Check the Ad Previewer regularly to make sure your ad still looks the most attractive on the page.
Take away food
If you suddenly see a drop in click volume, take a step back and make a game plan before you panic.
Usually the answers to this problem are buried below the surface.
If you take the time to dig in and analyze the data, you’ll likely find the root causes of stalled campaign performance.
With these tips, you can create your game plan to improve your Google Ads performance immediately.
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