How To Improve Search Ad CTR By Using Social Proof


Let’s talk about the power of social proof in search advertising. 

But I’m not going to bore you with examples of generic social proof in action.

By generic, I mean:

  • “I love this product! – Sarah K.”
  • “Recommended by Experts”
  • “Every Editors’ Favorite [insert product type here]”

Nothing wrong with these of course in the sense that they are social proof signals – they’re just terribly bland and generic. A half-baked interpretation of the concept of social proof, if you will. 

So in this edition of SERP monster, we’re going to find real-life ads in the wild – and show you exactly how to increase the social proof factor to 10, step-by-step. 

But first, let’s jump into some background theory.  

What Is Social Proof?

At its core, social proof is a bit like the saying “monkey see, monkey do”. It’s the idea that when we’re unsure about something, we look to others for cues on how to act. If everyone else is doing it, it must be the right thing to do.

This isn’t just a human quirk – it’s a survival instinct that dates back to our caveman days. Back then, conforming with the group was often a matter of life and death. If everyone else was running from a saber-toothed tiger, you’d have no choice but to be sprinting too.

Fast forward a few millennia, and that same instinct is still going strong. Only now, instead of predators, we’re navigating the wilds of purchasing decisions and social situations. And just like our prehistoric ancestors, we rely on social cues to guide us through the uncertainty.

And brands know this.

Types Of Social Proof

Social proof comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but specifically for search ads the below are most common:

  • Testimonials and reviews
  • User-generated content
  • Expert endorsements
  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Trust badges and certifications

There’s not one that generally performs better than others for search ads, but here’s a tip: try and keep to one type of social proof signal per ad when starting out. That way, you’ll quickly get a gauge of which signals resonate best with your audience, and can double-down from there.

Social Proof Mistakes To Avoid

So we’ve established that social proof is a powerful psychological force. But there are also rules to be mindful of when employing social proof tactics across your search ads. 

Social Proof Mistake 1: The Generic Experts Claim

You’ve seen something like it before – an ad that boldly declares, “Used by the world’s best dermatologists and facialists”. But who are these so-called experts? Are they legitimate authorities in the field, or just a bunch of actors in lab coats? 

Given word count limits, sometimes you have to be a bit vague in your ad headlines. That’s fine, as long as you can back up your vague statements in the ad descriptions.


For LYMA, they actually have some pretty impressive testimonials on their website, from legitimately respected names in the skincare industry. Use them.

  • Expert Endorsements: Position the claim as [expert] trusts [brand] to deliver [relevant outcome based on search query]. Double-down on this in the first description, so it’s absolutely clear what the claim is. 
  • Celebrity Endorsements: Ideally, they’re a known quantity for your audience (in a good way). Even if they’re less well-known, they still add weight to the positioning of the ad. 
  • Trust Badges & Certifications: LYMA are FDA-approved, backed by numerous clinical studies AND their device was featured by TIME Magazine as the Best Innovation of 2023. It’s unreal that they’re not talking about this in every piece of copy.  

Generic expert claims can actually backfire, making your ad seem less credible and trustworthy. If you’re going to use expert endorsements, make sure you follow up on the who (they are) and the why (they trust your product), tying it back nicely to the search query where possible (the relevant outcome). 

Social Proof Mistake 2: The Vague ‘Award-Winning’ Statement Claim

You’ve seen it before – an ad that proudly proclaims “award-winning”, as if all awards are equal. Let me break it to Nutrafol: no one cares about award wins, unless:

  • The awarding body is relevant to and trusted by the reader
  • The award is recent (i.e in the last 18 months)
  • The award is specific to the product’s category
  • The award is tied to specific benefits or results that the reader can expect to experience (i.e. best supplement for hair growth). 

But assuming all these things stand – they can do a lot, lot better than this:


On a competitive SERP, you can expect to see “award-winning” bandied about at least 3 to 5 times. So it pays to be specific. 

  • Trust Badges & Certifications: Showcase the number of awards, assuming that it’s a competitive USP.
  • Expert Endorsements: Don’t just claim ‘editor-approved’ – call them out by publication. Drop in a quote or award win where necessary.
  • Testimonials & Reviews: Use sitelinks to mix up the social proof signals: showcase before and afters, customer reviews and clinical studies where appropriate. 

When it comes to social proof, vague statements don’t really cut it. You need to be explicit about the claim. Provide context and credibility. Showcase the specific award(s) you’ve won and underline they matter to your target audience.

Social Proof Mistake 3: The ‘Science-Backed’ Statement Claim

“Scientifically proven!”. “Backed by science!”. These phrases are thrown around so often in ads that they’ve lost their impact. Without specific details about the scientific research or evidence, these claims can come across as hollow. 

For example, take this ad from Seed Probiotics – if your label claim is that your product is backed by science, then show your receipts. Instead of a vague “science-backed” statement, provide specific details, like:

  • Type of trial: For example, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials.
  • % Of Participants Positively Affected: For example, “78% of participants reported improved digestive regularity and reduced bloating”.
  • Duration of Trial: For example, an 8-week study.
  • Number of Participants: e.g. 300 women aged 30-65.

So here’s how we would crank up the science social proof signals on this one:

  • Expert Endorsements: Rather than the overused “Science-Backed” use “The Probiotic That Science Trusts”. It incorporates the product category (useful to have in a H1), and also implies that the product is trusted by the science community, as opposed to backed by some scientific studies. There’s a difference.
  • Trust Badge & Certifications: Show the science creds close up. Although ‘Clinically Proven” in the H3 is deliberately vague, we elaborate that it’s proven to improve digestion and cut bloating (in the first description), and then underline the type of clinical trial for good measure in the D2. Infinitely more descriptive of the rigorous process of becoming “science-backed”, than the original ad.

Step-by-Step Guide

. Identify Your Social Proof Assets

The first step in crafting brilliant social proof ads is to take stock of your existing proof points. Make a list of all the testimonials, reviews, awards, expert endorsements, and other forms of social proof you have at your disposal. A Google Sheet is fine.

Don’t worry if your list feels a bit sparse at first – you can always gather more proof points as you go. The key is to start with what you have and build from there.

. Evaluate and Prioritize Your Proof Points

Once you have your list of social proof assets, it’s time to evaluate and prioritize them based on relevance, credibility, and impact. Ask yourself:

  • Which proof points are most relevant to my target audience and their pain points?
  • Which ones come from the most credible and authoritative sources?
  • Which ones pack the biggest punch in terms of demonstrating value and driving action?

Rank your proof points based on these criteria, and focus on taking the top contenders forward to your search ad campaigns.

. Craft Specific, Compelling Search Ad Copy

Now it’s time to weave your chosen proof points into your search ad copy. The key here is to be specific and compelling – no vague or generic statements allowed!

For each proof point, ask yourself three things:

  1. Is it relevant to people searching for X.
  2. Is it believable?
  3. Is it unique on the SERP? Or are there other brands with similar (or better) claims. 

You can mix and match social proof signals, or you can have specific ad variants tied into specific signals – test both approaches to see what works best for your audience.

. Integrate Social Proof into Your Ad Extensions

Don’t limit your social proof to just your ad copy – use your ad extensions (and particularly sitelinks) to go deeper into each point. 

For example, if your ad is based primarily on Testimonials and Reviews, then go deeper by using sitelinks to point to Before & Afters, positive customer stories and case studies, or  video testimonials.

If it’s heavier on expert recommendations, then use sitelinks to direct to profiles of the ‘experts’, the recommendation or research process, or other expert signals, such as power quotes (i.e.  “Best for Bloat” – Dr. Patel).

For ads more focused around Trust Badges and Certifications, use sitelinks to underline why those badges are important, as well as to highlight any clinical trial results that may be relevant (i.e. “78% Had Less Bloating”).

This may involve creating new pages for your site, but it’s worth it if it means that people will engage deeper with your stated social proof claims.

. Align Your Landing Pages

To create a seamless, trustworthy experience for audience, make sure your landing pages align with and reinforce the social proof featured in your ads.

This means:

  • Prominently displaying the same testimonials, awards, or endorsements from your ads
  • Providing more detailed information and context around your proof points
  • Featuring additional proof points that support and enhance your ad claims
  • Ensuring a consistent message and tone throughout your ad and landing page copy

You’ll create a cohesive, compelling journey that builds two things – persuasiveness and intent.

. Test, Measure, and Optimize

Once your ads are live, keep a close eye on your performance metrics – especially your click-through rates, conversion rates, CACs etc.

Double-down on what’s working – it’s sometimes useful to structure ads by social proof type, and then go deeper into winning themes, experimenting with slightly different proof points and phrasing along the way. 

. Always Be Listening

Brilliant social proof is not a one-and-done endeavor – it’s a continuous process of gathering, evaluating, and applying proof points across your ad campaigns.

Make it a habit to regularly collect new testimonials, reviews, and endorsements. Keep an eye out for new awards, accolades, or media mentions that you can use in your ads. Put it all in the Google sheet mentioned in Step 1.

Expert Q&A

10 Responses

    1. If you’re just starting out or have a limited pool of customer reviews, don’t worry – there are still plenty of ways to gather social proof for your search ads. Reach out to your early customers or beta testers for testimonials and feedback. Offer incentives (like discounts or free trials) in exchange for honest reviews. Highlight any awards, certifications, or media mentions you’ve earned. Remember, even a few strong proof points can go a long way in building trust with customers.

      Q: How do I choose the right social proof for my search ads?
      A: Choosing the right social proof for your search ads comes down to relevance, credibility, and impact. When evaluating potential proof points, ask yourself: Is this proof point directly relevant to my target audience’s needs or pain points? Does this proof point come from a credible and authoritative source in my industry? Does this proof point demonstrate tangible value or drive a specific action? By prioritizing proof points that meet these criteria, you’ll be able to create ads that resonate with your target audience.

    1. Fitting compelling social proof into the limited character count of search ads can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Focus on one strong proof point per ad, rather than trying to cram in multiple claims; use concise, specific phrasing that packs a punch (e.g. “Rated #1 by X Magazine”). And where possible, use ad extensions (like sitelinks or callouts) to show additional proof points.

    1. Regularly updating your social proof is key to keeping your ads fresh, relevant, and credible. As a general rule of thumb, aim to refresh your proof points at least once per quarter, or whenever you have new and noteworthy proof points to share (like a new award or customer milestone).

    1. The key metrics to watch are Click-Through Rate (CTR) – are your social proof ads driving more clicks than your non-social proof ads? Conversion Rate – are your social proof ads leading to more conversions or sales than your other ads? Quality score – are your social proof ads earning higher quality scores and better ad rankings? Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) – are your social proof ads delivering a better return on your advertising investment?

    1. Choosing the right social proof for your search ads comes down to relevance, credibility, and impact. When evaluating potential proof points, ask yourself: Is this proof point directly relevant to my target audience’s needs or pain points? Does this proof point come from a credible and authoritative source in my industry? Does this proof point demonstrate tangible value or drive a specific action? By prioritizing proof points that meet these criteria, you’ll be able to create ads that resonate with your target audience.

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  • Always choose social proof that is directly relevant to your target audience’s needs and pain points. The more specific and tailored your proof points are, the more impact they’ll have.
  • Seek out social proof from authoritative, trustworthy sources in your industry. Think expert endorsements, third-party reviews, or verified customer testimonials.
  • Use concrete, specific details in your social proof statements. Instead of “award-winning,” say “Voted Best New Product by X Magazine in 2023.” Specificity breeds credibility.
  • Whenever possible, use hard numbers and data points in your social proof. Think “4.9/5 Star Rating from 500+ Customers” or “Proven to Reduce Wrinkles by 35%”. Numbers pack a persuasive punch.
  • Regularly update your social proof with new and noteworthy proof points. Stale or outdated social proof can actually hurt your credibility, so keep things current and relevant.
  • Never, ever use fake or exaggerated social proof in your search ads. Not only is it unethical, but it can also seriously damage your brand’s reputation if discovered. Stick to authentic, verifiable proof points only.
  • Avoid vague or generic social proof statements like “trusted by thousands” or “industry leader.” Without specific details or context, these claims lack impact and credibility.
  • While social proof is powerful, too much of it can actually backfire. Stick to one or two strong proof points per ad, rather than trying to cram in every testimonial or award you’ve ever received.
  • Don’t treat social proof as a one-time tactic. Continuously gather, evaluate, and test new proof points to see what resonates best with your audience. The most effective social proof strategies are iterative and ongoing.

Case Study

Brilliant social proof in search ads for a leading eCommerce fashion brand.



A leading eCommerce fashion brand, known for its trendy and affordable clothing, wanted to improve its search ad performance and stand out in a highly competitive market. Despite having a strong product lineup and a growing customer base, the brand struggled to effectively use its considerable social proof in search ads, leading to lower click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates vs. competitor benchmarks. The brand partnered with blimpp to develop a strategy for creating best-in-class social proof within their search ads.



The primary goal was to enhance the fashion brand’s search ad performance by incorporating relevant, credible, and impactful social proof in their ad copy and extensions. The strategy aimed to increase CTR, improve conversion rates, and ultimately drive higher return on ad spend (ROAS) while attracting new customers in a crowded eCommerce fashion market.


Process Overview

1. Identifying Key Social Proof Points
  • Action Taken: We conducted a thorough analysis of the brand’s customer reviews, social media mentions, influencer partnerships, and industry awards. We identified the most compelling and relevant social proof points that demonstrated their unique value proposition and resonated with their target audience’s preferences and pain points.
    Outcome: A curated list of powerful social proof points, including glowing customer testimonials, impressive social media metrics, and authoritative industry endorsements.


2. Developing Social Proof-Driven Ad Copy
  • Action Taken: We crafted ad copy variations that incorporated the identified social proof points. We focused on creating specific, concise, and impactful statements that highlighted the brand’s fashion-forward designs, affordable prices, and exceptional customer satisfaction.
  • Outcome: A series of compelling ad copy variations that used social proof signals to build trust and credibility among fashion-forward shoppers.


3. Maximizing Social Proof in Ad Extensions
  • Action Taken: We integrated additional social proof points into the brand’s ad extensions, including sitelinks, callouts, and structured snippets. These extensions signposted customer success stories, top-selling products, and unique brand features that set the fashion brand apart from competitors.
  • Outcome: A comprehensive ad strategy that maximized the visibility and impact of the brand’s social proof across all aspects of their search ads, providing a more engaging and persuasive experience for ad engagers.


4. Continuous Testing and Optimization
  • Action Taken: We implemented an ongoing A/B testing process to compare the performance of social proof-focused ads against the brand’s previous ad copy. We closely monitored key metrics such as CTR, conversion rates, quality scores, and ROAS.
  • Outcome: Continuous refinement of the brand’s social proof strategy, ensuring that their search ads remained highly relevant, credible, and impactful in the ever-evolving eCommerce fashion landscape.



  • Improved Click-Through Rates: The social proof-focused ad copy and extensions resulted in a 62% increase in CTR compared to the brand’s previous ads, indicating a higher level of engagement and interest among fashion shoppers.
  • Increased Conversion Rates: By showing relevant and credible social proof, leading to higher quality traffic, the brand saw a 37% increase in conversion rates, demonstrating the power of social proof in driving purchase decisions.
  • Enhanced ROAS: The optimized social proof strategy led to a 48% improvement in ROAS, highlighting the tangible business impact of effective social proof in eCommerce search ads.


Key Takeaways

  • Know Your Audience: Identify the social proof points that matter most to your target audience. In the fashion industry, customer testimonials, influencer endorsements, and social media buzz can be particularly powerful.
  • Be Authentic and Specific: Use genuine, detailed social proof in your ad copy. Highlight specific product features, customer experiences, and impressive metrics to create a more authentic and persuasive message.
  • Maximize Ad Real Estate: Use ad extensions to their fullest potential by using additional social proof points. This provides a more comprehensive and engaging ad experience for potential customers.
  • Adapt and Optimize: Continuously monitor your social proof strategy’s performance and adapt based on data-driven insights.

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