Cost per click determines how profitable your campaigns can be. Learn 22 ways our team lowers CPC without affecting ad performance on Google, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.

Here, you’ll find:

  1. What is CPC?
  2. How to calculate CPC
  3. How to lower CPC on Google Search Ads
  4. How to lower CPC on Google Display Ads
  5. How to lower CPC on Google Shopping Ads
  6. How to lower CPC on Facebook Ads
  7. How to lower CPC on Instagram Ads
  8. How to lower CPC on TikTok Ads
  9. How to lower CPC in 9 simple steps: a summary

You’ve set up a brand-new marketing campaign on your pay-per-click (PPC) channel of choice.

But there’s an issue — you’re burning through your budget sooner than anticipated.

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to lower your cost per click, or CPC. In other words, spend less money when prospective customers click on your ads, resulting in more visibility and conversions (without depleting your budget).

In this article, we’ll share how to lower your CPC across Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

What is CPC?

Cost per click (CPC) is a metric showing how much you pay each time your ad is clicked.

PPC advertising platforms like Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok charge you each time someone clicks on your advertisement.

You advise the platform how much you’re willing to pay for someone to click on your ad, and the platform uses an algorithm to determine where your ad should appear. In Google Ads, this is known as Ad Rank. Your ad rank is based on factors like the ad’s relevance, expected click-through rate, ad format, and landing page experience.

When your CPC is high, you pay more when a searcher clicks on your ad. This may mean a higher ad placement and more visibility, but it also means your budget runs out sooner.

When your CPC is low, you pay a lower cost when a searcher clicks on your ad. This may mean a less competitive ad placement, but means you get more clicks for your budget.

Balance is key when it comes to cost per click. You want to ensure the right customers see your ad, but you also want to keep costs low.

How to calculate CPC

Calculating your cost per click is easy. All you have to do is divide the total cost of your advertising campaign by the number of clicks it received.

(Image: HawkSEM)

Let’s say you create a Google Ads campaign to promote the latest sale on your eCommerce website. You spend $1,800 and get 1,000 clicks in return.

This means your cost per click is $1,800 divided by 1,000 – which equals $1.80.

Is this a good CPC? It depends on several factors. We’ll look at what these are later in this article.

Is cost per click the same as cost per acquisition?

Not quite. Cost per click tells you how much you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Cost per acquisition (or cost per action — CPA) tells you how much you pay for each conversion – for example, when someone signs up for your mailing list.

You can use both metrics to see how your marketing campaigns are doing. For example, let’s say your cost per click for a campaign is low, but your cost per acquisition is high. Your ads may be working, but your landing page may need revising.

How to lower CPC on Google Search Ads

With over 3.5 billion search queries a day, it’s easy to see why it pays to advertise on Google Search.

Google Ads is a great all-rounder when it comes to PPC campaigns. The search engine gets a lot of visitors, and many searchers are actively looking for products or services.

However, competition is high, which can drive up the Google Ads CPC. Let’s look at ways to lower CPC in Google Ads campaigns and reduce your total ads cost.

What CPC should I aim for on Google Search Ads?

Various factors determine the average cost per click in Google Search Ads.

These include:

  • The amount of competition. When more businesses bid on a specific keyword, it pushes up the average CPC
  • The search intent of the user. A transactional query where the searcher is more likely to buy will have a higher CPC than an informational query where the searcher is looking for answers to questions
  • Your industry. Some industries are naturally more competitive than others (e.g., health and wellness and legal)
  • Your target audience. Factors ranging from the type of device your target audience uses to where they are in the world can affect your cost per click
  • Your quality score. Quality score is a measure of how relevant your ad and landing page are to search engine users. We’ll explain more about what quality score is and how it might affect your CPC later

According to Wordstream, the average cost per click varies from $1.55 to $9.21, depending on your sector, with the overall average CPC being $4.22.

Tip 1: Use negative keywords

Irrelevant searches will sometimes trigger your Google Search Ad. This means people with no intention of buying your product or service click on your advert, driving up your CPC.

For example, let’s say that you sell women’s coats online. Google Ads could serve your advert to people searching for “men’s coats” or “children’s coats” – not your target audience.

This is when a negative keyword list is helpful. A negative keyword list contains words and phrases that won’t trigger your ad.

You can add negative keywords at ad group or campaign level in the search terms report, or create a list by going to Tools and Exclusion Lists.

Negative keyword lists feature in Google Ads

(Image: Google search terms report exclusion list)

“I recently launched a campaign for adult Halloween costumes. Of course, much of the search volume for Halloween costumes is for kid’s or children’s costumes. By excluding terms like “children,” “kids,””child,” and “youth,” the audience was already more relevant.

Joe Karasin, CMO and Founder at Karasin PPC used negative keywords to his advantage when working on a Google Ads campaign for a client.

“Many people were also searching for specific character Halloween costumes, such as “Bluey” or “CocoMelon.” I identified these using the search terms insight report and added them to the negative keyword list too.

The original cost-per-click with the exclusion of keywords like “children” and “kids” was $0.79. However, by further filtering terms, the final CPC for the campaign was reduced to $0.34. As a bonus, the conversion rate increased from 6.11% to 9.79%.”

Tip 2: Stick to manual bidding

Automated bidding is helpful for businesses lacking time to optimize their Google Ads accounts. However, automated bidding strategies can have a negative effect on your cost per click because you have less control over your budget. Plus, automated bidding strategies may not align with your business’s unique goals, leading to possible overspend.

If you use automated bidding, regularly check your Google Ads account to ensure your cost per click is in a healthy range. An experienced PPC consultant can audit your account to ensure you always pay the right amount per click.

Tip 3: Work on your quality score

Google Ads uses two factors to determine what position to place your advertisements. The first is your Max CPC. The second is your quality score.

Google Ads assigns each keyword a quality score ranging from one to ten. A higher quality score means Google sees your keywords as more relevant, so your CPC decreases.

A quality score of 10 means you pay 50% less than if your quality score was 5.

(Image: HawkSEM)

How can you increase your quality score? Google Ads considers the following criteria:

  • The landing page experience. The more useful and relevant the page your ad links to, the better
  • Ad relevance. How closely your advert matches the intent behind a search — this considers keywords, ad extensions, and ad copy
  • Expected click-through rate (CTR). This criteria uses historical data to determine how likely a customer will click on your ad

Tip 4: Review your match types

An easy way to lower your CPC in Google ads is to pay attention to your keyword match types.

There are three keyword variations in Google Ads:

  • Exact match. Your ad shows on searches with the same meaning as your keyword
  • Phrase match. Your ad shows on searches including the meaning of your keyword
  • Broad match. Your ad shows on searches related to the meaning of your keyword
 Examples of how you can use exact match, phrase match, and broad match keywords

(Image: Google support)

Broad match keywords have their uses — like if you want to find fresh new keywords for your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. But they’re not ideal for keeping CPC low because you risk attracting clicks from customers with no interest in your products or services.

Phrase match and exact match keywords are more targeted, so they’re more likely to lower your cost per click.

We also recommend taking advantage of long-tail keywords. These are keywords over four words long that have lower search volumes but higher conversion rates. For example, “best organic dog food for senior dogs.”

Tip 5: Invest in your best-performing ads

When trying to lower CPC, it’s tempting to slash your Max CPC across the board. However, this can be a counterproductive strategy.

The best approach is to review your ads and see which ones get the most clicks and conversions, leading to a better return on investment (ROI).

“While it might be tempting to lower bids across the board to reduce cost per click, this isn’t always the right strategy when optimizing CPC,” says Sam Yadegar, co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. ”After all, you don’t want to sacrifice profitability just to lower the CPC. You may have a higher return on ad spend (ROAS) at a relatively higher CPC. It’s important to track campaigns properly to identify that all-important sweet spot.”

This is how we helped our client NurseRegistry achieve a 42% decrease in the cost per qualified client using PPC. Using our best-in-class Conversion IQ tool, we optimized their Google Ads account by funneling more ad spend to the best-performing ads and most competitive keywords.

How to lower CPC on Google Display Ads

Google Display Ads don’t typically drive conversions but raise brand awareness. This means they generally have a lower CPC than other PPC platforms.

However, it’s still important to create Display Ads so they’re relevant, engaging, and competitive.

Many of the things we looked at for Google Search Ads apply to Google Display Ads, for example, quality score and manual bid adjustments. In this section, we’ll look at additional ways to lower your cost per click in Google Display Ads.

Google Display Ad for the eToro trading platform

(Image: Etoro display ad)

Need some inspiration for your Google Display Ads? Check out these fantastic Display Ad examples.

What CPC should I aim for on Google Display Ads?

According to Wordstream, the average cost per click for Google Display Ads varies between $0.45 and $1.49 depending on your industry, with the average CPC being $0.63.

Tip 1: Invest in retargeting

A retargeting campaign in Google Display Ads shows adverts to people who already expressed an interest in your products or services, encouraging them to convert.

Take the ad below from Cox Business, a cable service in the U.S. This advert appears to customers who have visited the website, showing them a great deal to entice them to come back and finish their purchase.

Example of a retargeting campaign in Google Display Ads

(Image: Cox Business ad example)

The benefit is showing adverts to people who already engaged with you. This means more interest from prospective customers and a potentially lower CPC.

You can also use retargeting ads on paid social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Want to get started with retargeting? Here are some retargeting ads to inspire you.

Tip 2: Block irrelevant domains

One way to lower your CPC is by blocking irrelevant domains.

You can specify where you don’t want your ads to show on both websites and apps. For example, you may decide you don’t want your ads to appear on mobile apps aimed at kids, to reduce the chances of little fingers accidentally clicking on your adverts.

You can identify specific apps and website URLs, or determine particular categories or topics of websites you don’t want your ad featured on.

Tip 3: Use frequency capping

Frequency capping is a feature in Google Display Ads, where you limit how often the Google Display Network shows an ad to the same person over a set amount of time.

The benefit is you’re not showing ads repeatedly to people who aren’t interested in your product or service. If these people see an ad too much, they may click on it in an attempt to get rid of it once and for all.

You can set a frequency cap by going into Settings, choosing your ad, clicking Additional settings, and selecting Frequency management.

Get the balance right — if you set your frequency cap too low, you may miss vital opportunities to build brand awareness.

How to lower CPC on Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping Ads appear at the top of search results and receive highly-targeted traffic.Highly-targeted traffic means lower CPC since there’s less competition and higher targeting for people interested in your products and services.

Let’s look at four ways to lower your CPC on Google Shopping.

 Google Shopping results for keyword: “women’s watches

(Image: Google shopping search results)

What CPC should I aim for on Google Shopping Ads?

According to Wordstream, the average cost per click for Google Shopping Ads is $0.66. However, depending on your industry, your average CPC can vary between $0.34 and $1.09.

Tip 1: Take advantage of bid adjustments

If you understand how your target audience likes to shop, you can use bid adjustments in Google Shopping. This is when you increase or decrease your bid by a certain amount in specific situations.

For example, you sell worldwide, but want to target US audiences. You can boost your bids in the US to target your most profitable customers, providing a more optimized cost per click.

You can also adjust your bids by:

  • Device
  • Days of the week and times of day
  • Product categories

You can also create custom labels for your products and adjust bids accordingly. For example, you can use custom labels and bid adjustments to push your poorest-selling items.

Tip 2: Optimize your product feed

The more potential shoppers know about your products, the more likely they are to buy. Optimize your product feed in Google Merchant Center to include as much information as possible to increase clicks from high purchase intent customers, lowering your CPC.

For example, 62% of customers say they won’t buy from a retailer unless they offer free shipping, so it pays to mention this upfront.

Tip 3: Group similar products together

Have lots of items to promote in Google Shopping? Put them into product groups for easier management and to reduce your CPC.

Grouping items into product groups means you can set targeted bids and use negative keywords. For example, if you sell high heels, you can group them together and use “flat shoes” as a negative keyword to ensure your ads don’t show in front of the wrong people.

You can also use a similar strategy in Google Search Ads to lower your CPC – either in the form of Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) or Single Theme Ad Groups (STAGs).

Tip 4: Think mobile-first

By 2024, 43% of all eCommerce purchases will occur on a mobile device. Optimizing your website and product pages to be mobile responsive can improve your quality score and lower your cost per click.

Aside from creating a more mobile-friendly user experience, mobile responsiveness is an SEO factor that can give you a boost in the organic results too!

How to lower CPC on Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads is a brilliant platform to find new customers and boost brand awareness. Not only does the platform have over three billion monthly users worldwide, but Meta’s highly targeted advertising makes it easy to appeal to the right customers.

However, ensure your cost per click stays as low as possible by using the following tips:

What CPC should I aim for on Facebook Ads?

The CPC of Facebook ads can fluctuate depending on the industry you’re in, the type of ads you use… even the time of year!

According to Revealbot, the current average Facebook CPC is $0.74.

Average cost per click on Facebook Ads

(Image: Meta)

Tip 1: Carry out an A/B test

It’s hard to know what types of adverts your target audience likes and which, in turn, lower your CPC. Facebook lets you carry out A/B testing to learn which paid ads bring the right results.

What is an A/B test? An A/B test is when you run two virtually identical ads at the same time, with one small difference between them. For example, a different image or call-to-action on each ad. Facebook then lets you analyze the results to see which had the optimal cost per click.

Other paid social platforms also offer A/B testing. For example, Meta recently announced it was adding an A/B test tool for Reels on Instagram.

Tip 2: Create content that stops the scroll

According to Statista, the average person spends over 150 minutes on social media daily. To attract them, create high-quality, well-designed, relevant ads.

An attention-grabbing ad, whether on Facebook, Google, or another PPC platform, makes your brand more memorable and entices your target audience to click.

Pro tip: Facebook has an Ads Library where you can see what ads your competitors have released for inspiration.

Facebook Ads Library homepage

(Image: Facebook Ads Library)

Tip 3: Target your adverts to the right customers

Facebook collects a lot of data on its users, everything from location and age to hobbies and interests. Use this to your advantage in your ad scheduling.

A targeted ad means the right customers are more likely to see and click on it, keeping your CPC low.

Targeting options in Facebook Ads

(Image: Facebook ads targeting)

Tip 4: Check out your relevance score

Facebook has its own version of a quality score, known as relevance score. Your ad’s relevance score (rated between one and 10) provides a snapshot of how people interact with your advert.

For example, clicking on the ad or converting as a result of seeing the ad increases your score, while hiding or reporting it lowers it.

Example of a relevance score for a Facebook Ad

(Image: Facebook relevance score example)

The higher your relevance score, the lower the cost per click.

You can raise your relevance score by:

  • Ensuring your ads are targeted to the right people
  • Making sure your ads are engaging and interesting
  • Creating different variations of ads to keep prospective customers interested

How to lower CPC on Instagram Ads

With over two billion users, Instagram Ads is a powerful way to visually engage with potential customers. However, with engagement so high, businesses are happy to spend large amounts of money for their ads to be served.

Here’s how you can buck the trend and lower your CPC on Instagram.

What CPC should I aim for on Instagram Ads?

Despite being managed by the same platform (Meta), the CPC for Instagram Ads is higher than Facebook Ads. The reason: Instagram users are more engaged with ad content than Facebook users, increasing chances of clicks and conversions.

According to Revealbot, the average Instagram CPC is currently $1.35.

Average cost per click on Instagram Ads

(Image: Meta)

Tip 1: Try Stories Ads

Instagram offers various ad types and placements, including:

  • Explore
  • Stories
  • Shopping
  • Reels
  • Videos
  • Carousels

This makes it easy to try different placements to see which delivers the lowest CPC.

Example of a Stories Ad in Instagram

(Image: Instagram stories ad example)

In our experience, Stories are a fantastic option if a low cost per click is important. They’re full-screen, so people are more likely to pay attention. Plus, since many use them to build brand awareness rather than conversions, they have a smaller CPC.

Different businesses have different experiences, so try all the ad types available to see which brings the best results.

Tip 2: Promote organic content

Trust is critical for building successful PPC ad campaigns. If a prospective customer sees you as a reliable and credible option, they’re more likely to click, reducing your CPC as a result.

You can turn your organic Instagram posts into ads by boosting them. This allows you to promote your most popular content that followers enjoy and find most useful.

Tip 3: Identify when your audience is on Instagram

If you have an Instagram Business account, see which days and times your followers use Instagram the most.

This identifies when to make your ads visible to get the most attention from your target audience.

Instagram dashboard, showing times page followers are most active

(Image: Instagram business dashboard)

How to lower CPC on TikTok Ads

While it’s the newest social media platform on this list, TikTok is becoming a PPC powerhouse. Many businesses use the platform to appeal to younger customers because it has the highest social media engagement rate around.

Here are several tips to gain a competitive cost per click on TikTok Ads.

What CPC should I aim for on TikTok Ads?

TikTok only introduced advertising in 2019, so there’s less benchmarking data than other PPC platforms. However, according to research gathered from various sources, the average CPC on TikTok is between $0.48 and $0.98

Tip 1: Use user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is content created by your customers. It’s a powerful marketing tool, with 93% of marketers agreeing that customers trust it more than content created by brands.

UGC video ads on TikTok can get potential customers’ attention and build trust – the perfect combination for lowering cost per click.

Tip 2: Get to the point

Although videos can be up to ten minutes long, customers prefer videos on the shorter side.

TikTok states that over 63% of videos with the highest CTR highlight the key message within the first three seconds.

TikTok has its own Quality/Relevance Score that it keeps to itself. So continue creating video ads that are interesting, engaging, and that resonate with the target audience’s needs.

Tip 3: Think outside the box

TikTok is home to many unique and fun challenges. Think the water bucket challenge, #FlipTheSwitch, and #PassTheBrush! This shows your brand’s personality, grabs attention and gets your target audience wanting to know more about you.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next PPC ad, check out the TikTok Ads Library.

Homepage of the TikTok Ads Library

(Image: TikTok ads library)

How to lower CPC in 9 simple steps: a summary

Need to know how to lower your cost per click quickly? Here are nine easy ways to get results, no matter which PPC platform you use.

Use negative keywords. This reduces the chance of your ad being clicked on by people who are less likely to convert

Boost your Quality Score or Relevance Score. This means you potentially pay less when people click on your ads

Understand your target audience. When you know what platforms your prospective customers use and when, you can target them more efficiently

Carry out A/B testing. This helps you see which ad elements drive the most clicks at the lowest cost

Target your ads. The more targeted your ads are, the more likely relevant customers are to click and convert

Experiment. Some ad types and ad platforms have a naturally lower CPC than others

Create engaging content. This increases your ad relevance, which in turn lowers your CPC

Spend more on your best ads. Even though your CPC may be slightly higher, you’ll get a better return on investment

Monitor your metrics regularly. This ensures you always know which ads are most optimized for clicks

The takeaway

In digital marketing, your budget is everything. Lowering your cost per click on paid search saves money without compromising on quality website traffic.

Quality is more important than quantity when trying to lower your CPC. Rather than targeting everyone, focus on the people most likely to buy from your business.

If you need to optimize your marketing channels to get the right results, our PPC and paid social experts are here to help.

Get in touch for your free, no-obligation digital marketing consultation today.

PPC Ad Copy Checklist

Download the checklist now

Download Checklist

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation