Click Through Rate (CTR)

The click-through rate (CTR, also: click rate) indicates the ratio of clicks on an ad to the impressions that the ad has achieved. The CTR is given as a percentage. If a link on ads, a search snippet, an e-mail or a banner is clicked exactly 23 times in 1,000 page views, for example, this corresponds to a CTR of 2.3%. The click rate is an important KPI in online marketing. In the SEO area, the CTR in the SERPs plays an important role.

Calculation of Click-Through Rate

The click-through rate is calculated using a simple formula:

Click through rate ctr

Number of clicks/number of impressions * 100 = click-through rate

Tracking the Click Through Rate

The internal CTR of your own website should be collected using suitable web analysis tools such as Google Analytics. The SERPs-CTR can also be found in the Google Search Console. There, webmasters can follow the development of impressions and clicks using a diagram in the “Search queries” area. Various SEO tools and full-fledged SEO suites also provide evaluations of the click-through rate, which refers to the SERPs or advertising material.

Types of Click-Through Rate

When CTR is mentioned in online marketing, it is always about the ratio of clicks to visual contacts. In principle, however, 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 AdWords, 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 corresponding data can be evaluated using the Google AdWords tool. The CTR in the SEA is an important performance indicator. For example, a low CTR can mean that the search ad isn’t relevant enough for the target audience.
  • CTR in banner advertising: Anyone who places advertising online in an advertising network can use the click rate to check how efficient their advertising material is. At the same time, the CTR can help to put the CPM into perspective.
  • CTR in search engine optimization: For SEOs, the CTR in the SERPs plays an important role. This metric can be used to draw conclusions about how appealing the snippet is to the target group. The counterpart to the CTR in the SERPs would be the return-to-SERP rate. It shows the percentage of users who returned to the search results after clicking on the snippet and visiting the target page.
  • CTR can also play an important role in affiliate marketing. Because for affiliates, a high click rate increases the probability that the user will carry out a conversion and that the affiliate will receive a commission as a result.
  • In e-mail marketing, the CTR indicates the ratio of recipients who opened an e-mail or newsletter after receiving it. The key figure is also called the open rate in newsletter marketing.
  • In social media marketing, the click-through rate is also used, among other things, to determine the performance or attractiveness of advertisements. For example, advertisers can use the CTR to check whether their ad on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or XING is addressing the selected target groups. If the key figures are too low, either the targeting or the advertising material must be adjusted.

The average amount of CTR

There is no general answer to the question of the average click-through rate, as this depends very much on the medium and the type of content conveyed. For example, significantly higher click-through rates are possible with Facebook ads than with classic advertising banners. The latter often only bring in a CTR of 0.5% or even lower values. A 2010 study by MediaMind found an even lower average global CTR of just 0.09% for banner ads. In comparison, Germany managed a value of 0.10%, which was slightly below the European average of 0.12%. This means that for every 1,000 impressions, an average of just one user click occurs.

The connection between CTR and conversions

Click-through rate is not appropriate as a direct target of an advertising campaign along the lines of “goal is to increase CTR by 3%”. The background is that a high CTR is not decisive for the success of a campaign, but rather the conversion that is achieved with it. At Google AdWordsads, this is particularly evident. Suppose a trader books an ad. Out of 1,000 impressions, 40 users click on the ad. The result is a click-through rate of 4%, which would even be above average. But only two of the advertised visitors shop in the online shop behind the ad. One worth 5 euros, one for 15 euros. With an ad price of 1.50 euros per click, it quickly becomes clear that the ad campaign is not a success despite the high CTR because the costs for advertising are already 60 euros. In order to measure the success of a campaign, the CTR and the conversion must always be considered in a common relationship. In online marketing, the ROI or ROAS is therefore more likely to be evaluated.

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 for a specific keyword is always relative. A CTR of 1% with 100,000 ad impressions still means more visitors than a CTR of 10% with 1,000 views. Together with a high retention time 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 the best choice as a criterion for comparisons between different platforms. Due to the different values that result 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 media.

Importance for search engine optimization and search engine marketing

Every search engine optimizer pays special attention to the CTR in the SERPs. This key figure provides information about how often the search result in the Google results was seen and actually clicked. If a keyword is searched 500 times a day and clicked by 50 visitors, that means a SERP CTR of ten per cent. A high CTR indicates that the snippet is appealing to the user in the SERPs. The conversion that is then achieved provides information about how well the offer meets user needs. In general, a low CTR in the organic search results is an important key figure to optimize the meta description, the title or both elements together. In addition, there is the possibilityGenerate rich snippets by the markup of HTML elements. In this way, the search results are more conspicuous, can arouse the interest of the user and thus increase the click-through 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 ads for different user groups (e.g. based on age, gender, and social status)
  • Choosing websites with content focused on a specific topic (e.g. specialized forums) instead of general pages
  • Tests of various ad formats (size, format, placement) and banner content (e.g. image/text ratio, font type/size, the wording of the content, animated or as an image, colour design, graphics)
  • Exploiting retargeting


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