Click through rate (CTR) is probably a very familiar term to you by now. It’s basically how many times your ad was clicked, compared to the number of ad impressions.

This simple percentage figure has a pretty big impact on your Quality Score.

Any good tracking software should show you CTRs, however if you’re calculating it manually then this is the formula:

CTR Formula

The way CTRs affect your Quality Score is like a popularity contest. When a person clicks on your ad, in effect they are ‘voting’ for it, telling Google that it was relevant to their search. Google records this and kudos to your account.

When Google calculates Quality Score, your CTRs are taken into account (not including Content network) for the entire history of each keyword, not just for a certain period.

So you can see why it’s crucial to monitor search terms and take action on any low-performing keywords.

When deciding the relative value of click through rates, the below criteria are considered and weighted accordingly:

  1. CTR history is weighted so although a keyword’s whole history matters, the most recent CTRs are more important – this is an extra incentive to continually improve your campaigns! It also means that all is not lost if you want to resurrect old keywords.

  2. CTRs will be different depending on ad rank. Google does not equally compare the CTR of an ad positioned on the right hand side, with an ad appearing above the natural search results.

    The variance in ad rankings is taken into account. For example, in the search results below a 2% CTR for position 8 would be great, 2% in position 6 is still alright, but 2% in position 1 would be quite disappointing. The same CTR is weighted according to the ad rank.

  3. CTR with Ad Ranking

  4. Search terms – usually the more specific a search term is, the better the CTR should be because you are more closely matching a user’s search query.

    A very broad or general search term would be expected to have a lower CTR as the SERPS may not be specifically what the user had intended, and so the ads are not as relevant.

    The exact same CTR figure may be considered low or high depending on the search terms used, eg. 0.8% may be satisfactory for a broad search term, but quite low for a long tail search phrase, where the user’s intent is fairly obvious.

    For Example
    Broad search term – tv (0.8% CTR understandable – users could be searching for ‘tv’ for many different purposes – to purchase, rent, repair, look up tv guides, etc)
    however
    Long tail search term – plasma tv repairs Brooklyn (0.8% CTR fairly poor)

There are a number of variables you should look at to improve CTRs. Funnily enough, these are also the same areas you’d address to improve your Quality Score.

Next week we look at How to Boost Your Quality Score with Keyword & Ad Relevancy, and then:

  • Achieving Higher Quality Score with Better Landing Page Quality
  • Indirect Quality Score Influences

Have a look at your account now and become familiar with your various click through rates. Then look closely at the relationship between your CTR and Quality Score. You can always better your CTRs and you should, because they’re your ticket to better Quality Score.