Everything you need to know about CTR (Click Through Rate)

Your ranking in Google search results is no better than your CTR (Click Through Rate). Because what good is a top spot if no one bothers to click through to read your content?

Exactly. That's why there's plenty of potential to increase traffic and conversions just by optimizing your click-through rate.

If you work with SEO and don't already have CTR as one of the guiding stars for your organic content, I hope that has changed by the time you finish this blog post.

You'll find answers to seven of the most frequently asked questions about CTR - and finally, a guide on how to get started with optimization.

This is a test

1) What is CTR?

CTR stands for Click Through Rate and is a measurement of how many people click on your content when they view it somewhere online.

It's also known as "click-through rate", but the abbreviation CTR is the most commonly used term when working with digital marketing. 

All organic landing pages collect data when they are shown to a user - and record every time an exposure ends with a click. 

This applies to: 

  • Organic search results → why it's a key metric when working with SEO.
  • Ads → therefore it is also a key metric when working with PPC. 
  • Social media posts → therefore it is a key metric for both organic and paid posts.

2) How do you calculate your Click Through Rate?

Calculating your click-through rate is simple - divide the number of impressions (people who have seen your post) by the number of clicks on the post itself and multiply by 100. 

CTR = (clicks : impressions) x 100

Therefore, if 100 people have seen your post and three have clicked on it, the math looks like this: 

(3 : 100) x 100 = 3 → your click-through rate is 3 percent. 

3) How do you find out what a page's CTR is?

There's no need to get out your calculator, because of course you can look up your CTR. 

Google Search Console is the only place you can see the relevant CTR data. Here you can see the total number of clicks and impressions in a given time period, and it's easy to view the calculated click-through rate on specific keywords, landing pages, users' devices and more. 

There's plenty of data to dive into, so take the time to geek out and understand why things are good or bad. 

4) What is a good CTR?

What a professional or company considers to be a good CTR can be very individual. Audiences, keywords, history, budget and industry can influence impressions and severity.

There is also a big difference in expectations (and hopes) when working with click-through rates in SEO and PPC.

In advertising, for example, you wouldn't expect a CTR of more than 1 percent on banner ads. Conversely, in SEO, a CTR below 10 percent would be considered unsatisfactory and requires action (and may very well be 20+ percent).

In other words, a good click through rate is very relative. Get into the habit of reviewing your Click Through Rates frequently in Google Search Console, because this is where you can identify the low-hanging fruit and increase the amount of clicks on your content.

5) What happens if I don't improve my click-through rate?

Of course, you don't want people to click on your landing page, ad or Facebook post for the sake of your blue eyes. 

You have some content objectives you want to achieve. Whether it's sales, traffic, brand awareness or something else you're working towards, a low CTR will result:

  • That you're missing out on traffic to your site - you got the exposure, but not the click.
  • That you may get worse organic rankings or a higher CPC (Cost Per Click) on your ads in the future because the algorithms will deem your content not relevant or good enough. 

If you've had any doubts up until now, this is why you should always keep a close eye on your Click Through Rates. 

6) Why aren't people clicking on my search result?

When you don't get the clicks you want despite a certain number of impressions, it means that your content is either not relevant - or doesn't appear relevant to your target audience.

Therefore, it requires a qualitative analysis of each search result to find out why your target audience is not clicking on the displayed search result.

Whether it's for a keyword, a landing page or an ad you want to optimize, it's essential to start with what users see: the organic SERP snippet or the ad itself.

The SERP is the text that appears in Google search results and is also called a meta tag. It consists of a meta title, a meta text and sometimes structured data like rich snippets.

Google decides what appears in the search results - and the meta text can be a selected piece of text from the landing page and not what you have specified yourself (for example, via Yoast!).

In the SERP itself, the three most common issues are:

  1. That the text is not clear or incomplete around the content on the landing page - maybe you forgot to do that when you created the landing page?
  2. A missing CTA (Call To Action) in the meta title and/or description - have you made it clear to the target audience what they need to do?
  3. That users' search intent doesn't match the page content - is the content on your site skewed to what your target audience is searching for?

So what do you do when you've identified a problem? You fix it - and if you need examples, I'll provide them in the next section.

7) Which pages should I CTR-optimize?

The bigger the site you manage, the more confusing it can seem to start CTR-optimizing your landing pages. Because where do you start?

The short answer is: in Google Search Console. Here you can see clicks, exposure, click-through rate and average ranking in Google under the "effectiveness" tab. 

(Remember to select click-through rate and average position display, only clicks and exposures are automatically enabled).

Example of CTR in Google Search Console

Filter either "queries" or "pages" by highest ranking and then go to war with keywords/landing pages that appear on page 1 in Google.

Optimize all CTRs below 10 percent - or whatever you have set as the lower limit for acceptable click-through rates. 

Why should you focus on the pages that are already on page 1?

You have to, because almost all searches in Google go no further than that. SEO medium Backlinko has analyzed the user behavior of 1,801 sessions of Google users.

The study showed that as few as 0.44 percent of visitors go on to page 2 of Google search results. In addition, only 9 percent of users in the study made it to the bottom of page 1 in their search.

If you work with SEO, it is therefore crucial to be in the top 10 to get exposure for your keyword - and preferably in the top three.

Because Google's algorithm is constantly improving, you're more likely to find the answer to your search in the first three search results.

So to summarize: The lower you rank on page 1, the less exposure and fewer clicks you get statistically. 

8) How to optimize your CTR

So how do you improve your click-through rate by optimizing the meta title and meta description? And how do you find out what your target audience's search intent is? Find out here.

Meta tags

A good meta text is the difference between your page getting a click or not. That's why rewriting the meta title and meta description can often increase your click-through rate.

It's easy to identify the problem when it's a missing meta text - the solution is to roll up your sleeves and fill in the blanks. 

Often you find yourself in a situation where there is a text, but for various reasons it doesn't generate clicks. So what's wrong with it?

You can get more educated guesses by running the affected page's URL through a CTR tool - a program that detects and analyzes problems in your existing meta tags and can help you write a new one from scratch. 

What the meta checker looks for is whether the text meets Google's technical recommendations and whether catchy language is used (e.g. numbers, active verbs, power words and calls to action). 

For example, I can recommend this one from Storybase.

Search intent

If you're getting impressions but no clicks, there could also be something wrong with the context your landing page is being displayed in. This means that your landing page doesn't match what people are actually searching for.

Let's say you sell wine and your red wine landing page is on page one for the keyword "red wine" in Google. You've written a long, thorough, comprehensive article about grape varieties, types, production processes, tasting notes and I'll come after you. But despite the great ranking, your CTR is 1.3%, so something is clearly wrong.

When you do a search for "red wine" yourself, you can see that the remaining nine results on the first page are all about buying red wines and all lead to webshops.

So even if you've done everything right, the outcome is still wrong. This is because the users' search intent is different than you expected.

Three search intents are distinguished:

  1. Information searches. You want to know something about something - for example, a lot about red wine, Pokémon Go, dog breeds - the list goes on and on. 
  2. Navigation searches. Here you want to be directed to a specific place - it could be a specific brand, a company website, a specific shoe. 
  3. Transactional searches. Here you will be ready to convert - for example, in the form of a purchase, a call or a quote. 

And this is where your landing page doesn't match what's being searched for: it's suitable for information searches, but the intention of users is actually to buy red wine. With this knowledge, you can adapt the content both in the SERP snippet and/or on the landing page itself to meet user expectations. 

Get help with your SEO strategy

A good start is half done. A bad start is.... well, not good. If you don't have the resources to create a well thought out SEO strategy and you want help from an experienced SEO agency, you are always welcome to drop me an email at seo@amplify.dk.

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