What Are Click-Through Rates

Let’s begin by defining exactly what a click-through rate is. To make sure that we are accurate in our definition of what a CTR is, let’s go right to the source, Google. The click-through rate definition, according to Google, is a ratio that shows how often people see your ad or your organic (SEO) listing and end up clicking on that ad or listing. That ratio is known as the click-through rate or CTR for short.

Why Click-Through Rate Is Important

All too often agencies will provide impression data for ads. You’ll typically see a spreadsheet that has an ad identification number followed by the number of impressions (the number of times that the ad was seen) that the ad had. The problem with this metric is that without including the click-through rate, you have no idea how well the ad performed or didn’t.

Here’s an example: let’s say that you’ve been working diligently on getting the page on your site that shows your red widgets, to show up on the first page of Google’s search engine. The key phrase that you’ve been trying to rank this page for is “high quality red widgets”

It’s been a while, but finally, your red widgets page is ranked #4 on the first page for the term “high quality red widgets”. You couldn’t be happier! People are finally going to see your listing.

In a performance review meeting with your agency, you receive the spreadsheet that shows your red widget page ranking at #4 and it’s received 1,387 impressions! Wow! That seems like a huge number! Everyone in your meeting is wildly excited about the number of impressions that you’ve received for this page!

But, how many of the 1,387 people that have seen your listing have come to your red widget website page to learn more about the quality of your red widgets? When you’re just looking at impression data you have no way of knowing how many people went to your site to learn about your red widgets.

The Formula For CTR

To find out what your CTR is, you have to do just a little bit of math. Remember, a click-through rate is the number of times someone clicked on your ad or seo listing to get to the website page that the ad or SEO listing is pointing to.

The formula for figuring out your CTR is # of clicks/impressions. To put this into our earlier scenario. If you have 1,387 impressions and then you find out that you have had 17 people click on your search listing, you would have a click-through rate of 1.22%.

Now you have a metric that means something. A CTR of 1.22% is nowhere near as impressive as 1,387 impressions. Notice the lack of enthusiasm you’re feeling now? Would you be making a different business decision, now that you know the CTR as opposed to the decision you would have made earlier based on just the impressions?

What Are Good Click-Through Rates

Unfortunately, this is where it gets a bit murky because the honest answer is, it depends. There are a lot of factors that go into what makes up a good click-through rate. A good CTR will vary from campaign type to campaign type and from industry to industry. There is no one-size-fits-all good CTR.

There are, however, averages within industries that could be a starting point to use as baselines for your company.

Industry Average CTR search Average CTR display

Advocacy 4.41% 0.59%
Auto 4.00% 0.60%
B2B 2.41% 0.46%
Consumer Services 2.41% 0.51%
Ecommerce 2.69% 0.51%
Education 3.78% 0.53%
Finance 2.91% 0.52%
Health & Medical 3.27% 0.59%
Industrial Services 2.61% 0.50%
Legal 2.93% 0.59%
Real Estate 3.71% 1.08%
Technology 2.09% 0.39%
Travel & Hospitality 4.68% 0.47%
Data courtesy Search Engine Journal

Google CTR By Position 2020

In addition to click-through rate by industry, another metric that you should be aware of when it comes to CTR is the click-through rate of search engine listing as it pertains to the position on the search engine results page. As you can imagine, the listing in the first position is going to have a higher CTR than the listing at the bottom of the page, or number ten position.

What may surprise you, however, is the dramatic change in CTR as it relates to the listing position on the search engine results page.

Search Engine Journal found that the average click-through rate for a search listing in the number one position received a CTR of 28.5%. The listing in the number two position has an average CTR of only 15.7% while the listing in the number three position on the search results page received only 11% of the clicks! These are huge drops from the number one position! Now it’s not just about getting on the first page anymore but now it’s all about what position you’re in.

How To Find Click-Through Rate

The most reliable place to find your click-through rate information is within your Google Search Console account. The search console is full of tools and information that makes the job of managing your website’s performance in Google’s search results much easier.

Once you’re inside of your search console account, navigate to the performance area.

find your click through rate

Next, navigate to the “pages” area of the reports to get the CTR for every individual page, within your website.

ctr for pages
Once inside of the pages area of the reporting, you can select the page that you want the CTR information of.

click through rate information for web pages

If you aren’t signed up for the search console, it’s a free account that you can sign up for . Here’s some information on how to get started with Google Search Console.

How to Improve CTR

Now that we’ve covered what a click-through rate is, how to figure out the ratio, and where to find your CTR reporting, it’s time to look at how to improve click-through rates.

There are a number of tactics that can be employed to improve click-through rates for both paid ads and organic listings.

How To Improve Organic Listings (SEO) Click-Through Rate

Title Tags: The blue links displayed in the search engine results page listings are taken from your website page’s title tag. What shows up in your listing’s title (the blue link) is like the subject line for an email message. It needs to be compelling to the searcher to get them to want to click the link to your site to find out what you have to say or what you have to offer relating to what they’re looking for.

Page URL: The next thing to look at when you’re trying to improve your click-through rate is the URL for the page that you’re trying to improve. The URL is listed above the title (the blue link) and gives the person searching more information about what your page is all about. The URL for your page should offer insights into the content of the page. The URL should not be something like “mycompany.com/page1″.

Meta-Data: The meta-data for your website’s page is what shows up in the description area of your webpage’s search listing. That information is pulled from the meta-data that is set in the code of that page. Again, this information provides the person that is searching more information about what your page contains and will be a big influence on the searcher’s decision to click through to your website or not.

google ad parts

Capitalization: Use capitalization of first letters or entire words within your title tag or meta-data to emphasize words that you want to have stand out to the searchers. If you are one of the few people that sell red widgets, you would want to capitalize the word red so that it shows up in the search results as “RED Widgets”, grabbing the attention of the searchers.

How To Improve Paid Listing Click-Through Rate

Match Type: The first step in increasing the click-through rate for your paid ads is to stop showing the ads for phrases that aren’t relevant to your business. The keyword match type will help you with this step. Broad match type will often have your ad showing up for phrases that don’t fit your business. Change these ads to a phrase match type or even an exact match type to eliminate the ads showing up for the wrong phrases.

google ad types

Headline: The words that you use for the headline of your ad, just like with an organic listing, are the main driver for getting people to click on your ad and visit your website. Use words that will compel the searcher to take action on your ad. Also, don’t forget to use your keyword in the headline.

Call To Action: Be sure to use clear and powerful call-to-action words within both your headline and the body of your ads. Using action verbs such as “buy”, “learn”, or “limited offer” will increase your click-through rate.

Answer Questions: Searchers are searching because they are seeking answers to questions that they have. Questions that you can probably answer. Use your ad to let them know that you have the answers. By developing ads around common questions that your customers have, you’ll increase your click-through rate because you’ve demonstrated your knowledge.


In the end, getting people to take action to visit your website is the number one objective of any digital or traditional ad campaign that you are running. Outside of just brand building, there is no reason to spend your hard-earned money on ads or search listings if you can’t get a good click-through rate from the effort.

Getting a good click-through rate is important, it can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Before you dive into just buying ads, be sure to get your plan laid out so that you can increase the click-through rate for your website.