What is CTR? How to use CTR Data for SEO and SEM?

The click-through rate (CTR, Click Rate) indicates the ratio of clicks on an advertising medium to the impressions that the advertising medium achieved. The CTR is given in percent. If a link, e.g., clicked exactly 89 times for 1,000 page views, this corresponds to a CTR of 8.9 percent. The click rate is an important KPI in online marketing. In the SEO area, the CTR plays a significant role in the SERPs. By definition, the “click-through rate”, “click-through ratio” or click-through rate of a website (CTR) is a key figure that shows the ratio of the number of clicks on a digital advertisement to the ad impressions in expressed percent.

The number of ad impressions, in turn, shows how often a user has seen the advertising material in a certain period of time. In relation to the actual clicks on the respective affiliate means in this period, these two key figures result in the CTR, i.e., the advertising click rate. The click-through rate plays a particularly important role in the advertising area and is therefore the focus in the following.

Other UX and Analytics related guidelines:

  1. User Retention Rate Optimization
  2. Conversion Funnel Designing
  3. Mobile-first Design
  4. Click Path Optimization

Calculation of the Click-through Rate

Various tools can evaluate CTR. The CTR can be calculated manually as follows, “number of clicks/number of impressions * 100”.

Example: If an advertising banner is displayed 100 times and clicked once, the result is a CTR of 1%.

CTRs can vary a lot depending on the type of impressions. According to the study, first place at Google has an average CTR of 18-33%. E.g., for banner advertising, the CTR is between 0.09 and 3%. However, this is only a rough guideline, since the average values vary greatly depending on the type of display.

Types of Click-through Rates

When people talk about CTR in online marketing, it is always a matter of the ratio of clicks to visual contacts. Basically, the CTR refers to different issues in search engine advertising, banner advertising, or search engine optimization.

  • CTR in search engine marketing: The click-through rate in search engine marketing, for example with Google Ads, refers to the ratio of the frequency of the advertising material displayed to the actual clicks on the ad. This can be a text ad as well as a shopping ad or a display banner. The relevant data can be evaluated using the Google Ads tool.
  • CTR for banner advertising: Those who place advertising online in an advertising network can use the click rate to check how efficient their advertising media are. At the same time, the CTR can help put the CPM into perspective.
  • CTR in Search Engine Optimization: The CTR in the SERPs plays an important role for SEOs. This key figure enables conclusions to be drawn about how appealing the snippet is for the target group. The counterpart to the CTR in the SERPs would be the return-to-SERP rate. It shows how many users returned to the search results as a percentage after clicking on the snippet and visiting the landing page.
  • CTR can also play a significant role in affiliate marketing. Because for affiliates, a high click-through rate increases the likelihood that the user will perform a conversion and that this will give affiliates a provision.

The importance of CTR in online marketing

The click-through rate is an important KPI (Keyword Performance Indicator), i.e. an indicator that uses a CTR to determine how well the performance of digital advertising is tailored to the visitor. Has the generated keyword been adapted to user behavior? Has the affiliate banner been placed according to the target group?

This measure is of great relevance for online marketing, in particular affiliate marketing, since the efficiency of the advertising material used can be measured in numbers. Based on this, e.g., calculate the cost-per-click, which is critical for businesses because it determines advertising costs per click.

Click-through Rate Explained

In the SERP area too, the CTR is an important factor in search engine optimization when considering the effect of snippets. A high SERP-CTR can give an indication of whether a snippet encourages the user to click a link on Google. Eye-tracking systems and algorithms, CTA Words, Power Words, and Descriptive Words in titles and descriptions can also affect the CTR along with Rich Snippet Results. In order to be able to place digital advertising on Google, you can use Google Ads, a payment program for banner advertising on Google. Checking the CTR and Conversion Rate together for Google Ads is a vital point for Budget Management.

A high CTR Does not Automatically lead to Advertising Success

However, the click-through rate says whether the user sees the promises made as useful or interesting when he clicks on them, but can only say a limited amount about the success of the ad impression. An increase in the CTR cannot be equated with the success of an advertisement. Only the number of conversions and user-retention rates show whether a visitor was actually encouraged to make a purchase, start a download, or something similar that describes a conversion. An advertising campaign should therefore not aim to increase the CTR. The CTR only provides clues whether the ad impression is effective or not and may need to be optimized.

CTR, Dwell Time, and Bounce Rate

In combination with the length of stay and the bounce rate, the CTR can be seen as an important prerequisite for traffic to be directed to websites at all. However, a CTR is always relative to a certain keyword. A CTR of 1 percent for 100,000 ad impressions still means more visitors than a CTR of 10 percent for 1,000 visual contacts. Together with a long stay and a low bounce rate, the CTR can ultimately be an indicator of a high conversion probability.

The CTR as a Comparison Criterion

Although the CTR is an important KPI, it is not ideally suited as a criterion for comparisons between different platforms. Due to the different values ​​that arise depending on the ad format, campaign, industry, and individual objectives, there is hardly any comparability. However, the CTR is of course a good way to internally compare the development of your own advertising campaigns from the past with the success of current advertising measures or advertising materials.

Importance for Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing

Every search engine optimizer pays particular attention to the CTR in the SERPs. This key figure provides information about how often the search result was seen in the Google results and actually clicked. Searching for a keyword 500 times a day and clicking on it from 50 visitors means a SERPs CTR of ten percent. A high CTR indicates that the snippet in the SERPs is appealing to the user. The conversion achieved afterward provides information about how well the offer meets the users’ needs. In general, a low CTR in the organic search results is an important key figure in order to optimize the meta description, the title, or both elements together. It is also possible to generate rich snippets by the markup of HTML elements. In this way, the search results become more conspicuous, can arouse the interest of the user, and thus increase the click rate.

In order to improve the CTR in the area of ​​the SEA, the following measures can be carried out, for example:

  • Creation of individual advertisements for different user groups (e.g., based on age, gender, and social status)
  • Selection of websites with content focused on a specific topic (e.g., specialist forums) instead of general pages
  • Tests of various ad formats (size, format, placement) and banner content (e.g., image/text ratio, font/size, formulation of the content, animated or as an image, color design, graphics)
  • Exploitation of retargeting

For SEO, CTR is always an intriguing factor. Because CTR has always been seen as a ranking factor from most of the SEOs. CTR can show the user satisfaction or sometimes in some queries CTR can be irrelevant for the user satisfaction. Before 2018, even a group of people could manipulate the Search Engine Results Page with a manual effort by clicking the Search Results in a manipulative way. The system doesn’t work like this today. But still, there are some cases that CTR spikes can change the rankings. To learn more, you can read our “Is CTR a Ranking Factor” article, which includes Google Patents and CTR Models. As Holistic SEOs, we will continue to improve, refresh and expand our CTR Guidelines and information.

Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR

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What is CTR? How to use CTR Data for SEO and SEM?

by Koray Tuğberk GÜBÜR time to read: 6 min