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If you’re wondering about how your site is performing, there’s a whole host of different metrics (measurable values for your site, ads and so on) that you might be looking at. One of those metrics – your click through rate (CTR) – is a good indicator as to how your efforts are doing with regards to bringing traffic to your landing pages.

What is ‘click through rate’?

Essentially, CTR represents the percentage of users who have viewed a link and proceeded to click on it, therefore visiting the landing page or destination of the link. The percentage is based on the number of clicks from impressions (an impression is basically when your digital media, such as a link or advertisement, is rendered on a user’s screen). For example, if a PPC ad made 10,000 impressions (it was viewed 10,000 times) and 100 people clicked on the ad, then the CTR would be 1%.

Click through rates are typically closely associated with the performance of paid advertising, but they apply to absolutely anything that requires a user to click some form of link to visit a different destination. This means your CTR is a measurable value for organic search results (generally referred to as ‘organic CTR’), social media and more. However, for this article (and to keep things simple), we’re going to focus on click through rates in PPC and paid advertising.


Why is click through rate important?

In short, knowing your CTR is vital for helping you analyse your ad’s performance. If your CTR is low, then it may indicate that there’s a problem. What it won’t tell you is what that problem could be. As with all data and metrics, it’s an indicator rather than a definitive answer. The data should be used to point you in the direction of the solution. A low CTR could be down to one thing for one site or ad, and something completely different for another.

Also, and importantly, put simply the lower your CTR is the more potential traffic you may be missing out on. For just 1000 impressions, the difference between a CTR of 1% and 5% is the difference between 10 or 50 people arriving at your landing pages-maximising the number of users coming into your marketing funnel can do wonders for your sales and lead generation.

Another reason of why this metric is so important is that your click through rate is also a contributor to how search engines will rank your ads. Your ad rank, along with your quality score, is used to determine your position on search engine results pages (in the ad section as opposed to organic rankings). Plus, most industries are highly likely to have a multitude of competitors that are also trying to achieve a good ad rank.

CTR forms a crucial part of getting a good rank – if you have run a vast amount of ads that have typically had low CTRs in the past, then search engines such as Google are more likely to expect any new ads to have a low CTR too. This can result in lower rankings on results pages, making improving your CTR extremely important for maximising the success of both your current and future efforts.

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So, what is a good click through rate?

It’s completely understandable to want to know if your CTR is good or not. However, the term ‘good’ could be seen as a little subjective when it comes to click through rates. What could be considered a good CTR is most often entirely dependent on the situation. There are a variety of factors to consider before trying to decide if any particular CTR is good or not.

Firstly, you need to think about the industry that your business/campaigns are based around. This in itself could have a massive impact on your CTR, purely through the search behaviour and intent of users, and also the prevalence of your competition. The average CTR for different industries can vary dramatically. For example, display ads in the employment services industry have an average CTR of approximately 0.14%, whilst display ads in technology boast an average of 0.84%.

It’s the same scenario for search ads (which is an ad type where employment services have a higher than general average CTR, coming in at roughly 2.13%). For search ads, the legal industry’s average CTR is 1.35%, whilst the dating and personals industry is around 3.40%. Whilst these differences might not seem like much, the industry itself combined with search intent can have a dramatic impact on the CTR of any campaign.

We touched on it above, but on average, search ads have a typical average CTR of around 1.91%, whilst display ads average out at roughly 0.35%. Search ads appear to have a higher CTR which can be attributed to search intent – a display ad such as a banner that appears on the side of a web page may not always have the potential to be as relevant to a user as the information on the web page itself, whereas a text ad showing at the top of a search results page is more likely to attract attention.

Related to the above there is also the term ‘banner blindness’ to consider, which refers to users either consciously or subconsciously ignoring banners and ads on sites entirely. This is a phenomenon that has been around for nearly as long as the internet itself and is difficult to combat. Many people also install ad blocker extensions in their browsers, meaning they may never even see your ads at all. That’s not to say that display ads should be avoided though, as they can still be beneficial for branding campaigns (for generating direct sales and conversions, we would typically recommend Google’s text and shopping ads)

If you’re using remarketing campaigns, these can often result in a higher CTR. This can be attributed to existing brand awareness – individuals who have already visited your site already know who you are, and may be more willing to click on your remarketing ads when they see them.

We also mentioned ad rank and positioning earlier, and this has an effect on your CTR too. For example, if your ad manages to reach that first-page, first-show position on a results page, then you may find that your CTR is much higher. However, if you find that your CTR is extremely low despite this optimum ad position, then this could be an indication of the fact that your ad needs some work.

Hand putting virtual target board and arrow which print screen on wooden cube. Business achievement goal and objective target

How to improve your CTR

Again, improving your click through rate is going to be predominantly situation dependent. However, there are a few general rules you can follow in order to start improving the click through rate of your PPC ads:

Ensure that you are targeting your audience effectively – proper audience targeting should be a top priority in your PPC campaigns. Amongst all of the factors that contribute to a good CTR, targeting is perhaps the most important. You need to make sure that your ads are tailored to the needs and requirements of your audience, or they simply will not click on your ad. Whilst you may experience lower overall impressions from a more specifically-targeted campaign, the higher relevancy to a user’s search intent is likely going to enhance your CTR.

For Search ads, check your titles and descriptions – As with writing metadata for SEO, if the copy of your text ads is substandard then it’s more likely users aren’t engaging with your ads. Carefully check any ads that have low CTR scores (as we mentioned above this is going to vary from industry to industry, but in most cases a sub-0.5% CTR on an ad with a high average position would be cause for concern) and see if the copy needs tweaking-is it overly sales-pitch like in tone without focusing on the benefits to the customer, for example?

Extensions -You may also want to consider using extensions in your text-based ads to further boost their clickability. These could range from Call extensions to encourage customers to call your business, to callout extensions summarising your business’s USPS, or sitelinks-additional links to other pages of your site that users may find useful. Extensions are a great way to get more valuable real-estate space in the search results, and can generate a more enticing result for your potential customers to interact with.

Think about your display ad sizing – as a minimum when crafting display ads for your business, it’s important to think about the best ad sizes. The most effective sizes, according to Google, are typically 336x280px large rectangles, 300x250pc medium rectangles, 728x90px leaderboards, 300x600px half pages, and 320x100px large mobile banners. Spending forever trying to create ads for every single display ad shape and size is potentially going to have a negative impact on your CTR.

Test your ads – you can run different ads to the same audience with your campaigns. This enables you to A/B test what sort of content works, and what might be less effective. The more you test your ads, the more likely you are to narrow down on what’s going to work best for your campaigns, and the chances are that you’ll be able to continually improve your existing ads and create better ads and content in the future.

Is CTR the be-all and end-all?

Whilst it’s important, your click through rate shouldn’t necessarily always be your main priority. You need to consider other important business metrics first such as conversion rates. Having a high click through rate is irrelevant if the people visiting your pages aren’t converting or completing the actions that your ad was originally designed to attract attention for. You need to think about the goals of your advertising efforts first, and your click through rate second.

It’s also important to consider that your CTR could be affected by campaigns utilising broader and potentially more vague keywords. If a keyword is used that spans a multitude of different industries or areas, then sometimes a lower CTR is expected. High click through rates for these keywords could lead to massive costs from potentially irrelevant searches if your ad hasn’t been properly optimised to target the right customers.

It’s important to look at more relevant keywords – they may have a much lower search volume, but if your ad is executed well and relevant to your keywords and you gain a good amount of leads/conversions, then these lower cost-per-click keywords will mean that your ROI will be significantly better.

Let's work together

If you want to talk to our specialist team about how we can help you with your digital marketing, talk to our team today.

If you’re looking to take your paid advertising to the next level, get in touch with us at Agency51 today. We’re digital marketing experts, and we can help you craft perfectly optimised PPC campaigns, as well as boost the organic digital presence of your brand.

Daniel Martin-Lemmon

Daniel Martin-Lemmon

Daniel Martin-Lemmon is a Content and Digital Marketing Executive at Agency51 with a passion for all things writing and marketing-related. From adverts and email campaigns, to long-form blog posts and instructional guides - he’s spent the first part of his career crafting engaging copy in an e-commerce environment, and now spends his time developing a diverse range of long and short-form content for a variety of different industries.

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