What is CTR? Understanding Click Through Rate

what is ctr

What is CTR? Understanding Click Through Rate

Marketers tend to throw around a lot of acronyms – CRO, CPC, PPC, ROAS. Most of these are metrics that inform us how marketing strategies and ad campaigns are performing. One such metric is CTR: click through rate.

Learn what CTR means, how it is applied to different marketing campaigns, and how to interpret it.

CTR Meaning

CTR stands for click through rate. Click through rate refers to how many people click on something after seeing it. CTR is commonly used in PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns, and tells marketers how many people clicked on their ad after seeing it. Click through rate can also be measured in some SEO analysis, email marketing, and in Facebook ads.

This metric is a good indicator of how appealing your ad or other online entity is, based on whether or not those who see it choose to click and learn more. A low CTR reveals that you should adjust your copy, creative, targeting, or some other aspect of your ad to get more people to click through.

Click Through Rate

Click through rate can be measured across different campaigns. Its most common use is in PPC ad campaigns, but CTR is also measured in organic search SEO, email marketing, and other ads like Facebook ads. We’ve broken down what CTR means for each of these marketing strategies.


In a pay-per-click campaign, businesses pay each time their ad is clicked. CTR is especially important for PPC campaigns, because it measures how many times their ad is clicked and therefore how much they pay. This measures both the cost of the campaign, since each click costs a certain CPC, and the efficacy of the campaign as each click brings traffic and hopefully conversions to a website.

A high CTR in PPC campaigns indicates that the copy, creative, or targeting is well focused and optimized. A low CTR reveals that either your targeting is off, or your ad is not appealing enough.

CTR is especially important in PPC because it affects your ad’s Quality Score, which in turn affects the cost per click (CPC). A great ad with a high click through rate will result in a better quality score, so your ads cost less to run, improving return on ad spend and overall ROI.


Websites that are search engine optimized will appear higher on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Click through rate is often measured on websites set up with Google Analytics to get an idea of how often your link is clicked when it appears in SERPs.

A high CTR can help your SEO efforts; Google recognizes click through rate as an indicator of good, relevant content. If Google recognizes your website’s high CTR on organic search, it may move your website up higher in the search engine results. This will help your website’s SEO and increase traffic and therefore potential leads.

If you have a high CTR as well as a high bounce rate, Google may recognize that your content is not relevant to those search results and lower your ranking. This is another reason why quality content is important to SEO.

CTR and Email Marketing

Click through rate is also measured in email marketing. In this medium, CTR is not how often your email is opened (this is called an open rate), but it measures how often a link in your email is clicked.

Some emails may have various possible links for consumers to click through – you can set up tracking for all of these links. CTR reveals how often people actually engage with the content in your email and click to learn more, as opposed to just opening it to get rid of the notification in their inbox.

Click through rate is important to email marketing campaigns, as the point of sending your emails is probably to get users back to your website to learn more or convert into customers. If your emails have a low CTR, focus on the content and calls to action to drive more clicks.

CTR and Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are another lucrative advertising option that many businesses take advantage of. Facebook’s Ads Manager assesses various metrics on ads run on the platform, including CTR.

On Facebook, there are two different measurements of CTR. One is CTR for link clicks, meaning that a user clicked on a call to action or a link to open your ad. The other is CTR for any kind of click, including clicking to your Facebook page or anywhere else on the ad.

Facebook targeting is very specific, so click through rate can be a helpful indicator of whether targeting is off, or if you should adjust the copy or imagery of your ad.

Click Through Rate Calculator

Click through rate is a simple measurement. To calculate CTR, divide the total clicks by the total number of impressions on your ad (times it is viewed).

Total Clicks on Ad / Total Impressions = CTR

Usually, click through rate is already calculated for your through Google Analytics, Facebook Ads Manager, or another tracking tool.

What Is a Good Click Through Rate?

It’s hard to say what constitutes a “good” CTR. The prevailing opinion is that there is no set answer. CTR fluctuates from industry to industry, campaign to campaign, and even keyword to keyword.

A study by WordStream looked at average click through rates for various industries. They found that overall, a good average CTR for Google search network ads is 4-5%, while a good CTR for Google display network ads is lower, around 0.5-1%. Their results by industry are shown in the graphic below.

click through rate

Source: WordStream

Why a High CTR Can Be Bad

Obviously, you want people to click on your ads so that they learn more about your brand and potentially convert into customers. In general, marketers are aiming for a high CTR to show that their ads are relevant and driving traffic.

An extremely high CTR can be a bad thing, however, if users click on your ads and fail to convert or immediately leave the page. It’s vital to ensure that landing pages are CRO optimized to improve conversions. If your ad has a high CTR and a high bounce rate, it may mean that your ad offer does not match the landing page that it leads to.

A very high CTR combined with a very high bounce rate tells Google that your ad is not relevant, and could hurt its Quality Score in a PPC campaign, or lower search engine rankings in organic search. This can be especially detrimental in ad campaigns, as a lower Quality Score will increase the cost per click of your ad.

A high CTR, low Quality Score, and high CPC will result in an expensive PPC budget, as each click is more expensive but will not yield any profit if your landing page is not optimized for conversions.

Keep working to improve CTR, but track other important metrics as well, like conversions, bounce rate, and CPC.

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