Click Through Rate

The Click Through Rate (shorted: CTR) is the ratio of clicks (e.g. on a banner or link) to Page Impressions. If a link with 1000 page impressions is clicked 23 times, it would result in a CTR of 2.3%. The click rate of a website is an important KPI in search engine optimization, search engine marketing as well as in online marketing in general. In the area of SEO, the CTR plays an important role in the SERPs above all. In the Author Stats function in the GWT, you can look at CTR statistics of articles and posts published online.

Acquisition of the Click Through Rate

The Click Through Rate can be calculated on the basis of a simple formula: 600x400-ClickTroughRate-en-01.png

A website’s internal CTR should be gathered with suitable web analysis. The SERPs CTR can be found in the Google Webmaster Tools. There, in the area "search queries", webmasters can see the development of the impressions and clicks with a diagram. Various SEO tools and full-value SEO suites also provide analyses of the Click Through Rate, which are then referred to in the SERPs or in the advertising media.

Types of click-through-rate

When CTR is mentioned in online-marketing, it is always about the relationship of the clicks to intervisibility. Essentially, the CTR refers to different circumstances with search engine adverts. banner adverts or search engine optimization.

  • CTR in search engine marketing: the CTR in search engine marketing, for example with Google AdWords refers to the relationship between the frequency of the displayed advertising media to the actual clicks on the advert. That can be a text advert or a shopping-ad or a display banner. The corresponding data can be evaluated through the Google-AdWords-Tool.
  • CTR with banner advertising: if you turn on adverts in an avertising network, you can test using the click rate how efficient the advertising media is. At the same time, the CTR can help to put your CPM in perspective.
  • CTR in search engine optimization: for SEOs, the CTR plays in important role above all in the SERPs. Using this figure, you can recognize how appropriate the snippet is for the target group- The counterpart of CTR in the SERPs is the Return-to-SERP-rate. This shows the percentage of users that return to the search results after clicking on the snippet and visiting the landing page.

For affiliate marketing, the CTR can also play an important role, because for affiliates, a high click rate increases the probability that the user completes a conversion, and therefore the affiliate increases his provision.

The average CTR

There’s no general answer to the average amount of the CTR, as it strongly depends on the respective medium and content. That’s why e.g. Facebook ads generate significantly higher Click Through Rates of an average 11% as compared to classic advertising banners. The latter only generate a CTR of 0.5% or lower [1]. A 2010 study of MediaMind stated an even lower, average global CTR of 0.09% or yet lower regarding banner advertising. By comparison, Germany generated 0.10%, slightly falling behind the European average of 0.12% [2] – which means that only one single click was made per 1.000 impressions.

Correlation of CTR and Conversion

The Click Through Rate is not suited for an advertising campaign’s direct goal of, for example, “increasing the CTR by 3%”. That’s because a high CTR does not determine a campaign’s success but rather the achieved conversion. This becomes especially manifest with Google Adwords campaigns: let’s assume a marketeer runs an ad. With 1.000 impressions, 40 users click on the ad. This results in a Click Through Rate of 4%, which would actually be above average. But in the end, only two of the recruited visitors actually buy something in the online shop behind the ad – one worth 5 EUR, the other one 15. At an ad-rate of 1.50 per click, it becomes obvious that despite a high CTR, the ad campaign wouldn’t be successful as the costs for the advertising already amounted to 60 EUR. In order to measure the campaign’s success, CTR and Conversion always need to be considered relative to each other. In online marketing, the ROI or ROAS would be evaluated.

CTR, dwell time and bounce rate

In correlation with time spend on page and bounce rate, the CTR can seen as an important prerequisite for generation of traffic to the website. However, with a certain keyword, the CTR is only relative. A CTR of 1% with 100,000 ad-impressions means more visitors than a CTR of 10% with 1,000 visitors.

Together with a high stay on page rate and a low bounce rate, the CTR can be an indicator for a high conversion probability.

CTR as comparison criterion

Although the CTR is an an important KPI, it isn't suitable for a comparisons between different platforms due to differing figures depending on format, campaign, branch and individual purpose. Still, the CTR is a great way of internally comparing the development of past advertising campaigns with the success of current advertising campaigns and advertising media.

Relevance for Search Engine Optimization

Every search engine optimizer pays particularly attention to the CTR in the SERPs (short for Search Engine Result Pages). The KPI provides information about how many times the search result was clicked in the result pages. This bears relation to the actual calling up in the SERPs.

If a keyword is being searched 500 times a day and clicked on from 50 visitors, this results in a SERPs CTR of 10%. A high CTR suggests that the ad format and the entry in the SERPs is appealing to the user. The conversion achieved afterwards gives some indication of how well the offer behind the ad meets the expectations raised by the ad.

With a poor CTR, it is the SEOs job to increase it. However, this only makes sense if at the same time, the conversion is being improved – otherwise, all investments will deflagrate. In order to improve the CTR, the following means can be adapted:

Creating individual ads for different user groups (based on e.g. age, gender or social status). Choosing websites focused on certain topics (e.g. expert forums) instead of general websites. Testing different ad formats (size, format, placing) and banner contents (e.g. image/text relation, character font/size, the content’s wording, animated or steady image, color composition, graphics). Making use of retargeting.


  1. What’s the Click-Through-Rate? (German) Accessed on 03/23/2014
  2. Study to Click Rates and Display Advertising (German) Accessed on 03/23/2014