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5-Minute SEO School: What is Click-Through Rate?



In this 5-minute SEO lesson, we’re going to talk about click-through rates. You may have heard the term before, or maybe you’ve seen its accompanying acronym (CTR, which we will use throughout this post). In its most basic description, click-through rate means how often someone clicks on a link. Usually, this link is to a promotional item, a landing page, or stems from an ad. It’s a big “call to action”—that is, trying to get your visitors to take an action, like buying or downloading something. So, it’s understandable why you would want a good CTR. But is there a magic number you should aim for?


A Good Click-Through Rate for Ads


Everyone wants to know what the magic number is. But unfortunately, there really isn’t one. As with most things in life, the measure of success varies depending on what you’re looking at. For example, ads for dating sites and personals want to drive a higher click-through rate at around 3.4% vs legal ads netting around 1.35% of clicks.


And this is just Google Ads. There are also ads other places—such as social media networks—that will have even lower click-through rates, but will still be considered successful marketing tools.


The basic guidelines to remember are that the “magic number” doesn’t really exist, and it varies across platforms; however, between 1-3.5% is standard, and you can use that as a good starting point.


Now, we'll discuss CTR for search results below, and this varies drastically from the CTR of ads. Please keep this in mind as you read!


How Do I Improve my Click-Through Rate?


We could write a whole separate blog post on improving CTR, but this is a quick primer. There are a few things you can do to improve your CTR without spending a bunch of money.

First, ensure you’re using the right keywords for your content. If you’re trying to get the attention of young people for a fashion box subscription, you probably don’t want to be using keywords geared towards an older generation. Likewise, if you’re looking to attract a wide range of customers, don’t use exclusionary language. Make sure that your keywords reflect the attitude and marketing strategy you’re trying to invoke.


Next, utilize meta-descriptions. This is more for click-through on search engine results. The meta-description is the sentence or two you see below the link. This shows up on ads as well, so if you’re optimizing an ad rather than a page, simply make sure that this text is compelling. If it’s a bunch of garbled text, it doesn’t give the person searching for your site a good idea of what they can find at that link, and they may pass it over for something a little more obvious.

Finally, use URLs that describe the content as well. Google shows a preview of the URL. If it reads http://yourblog.com/blog-post-1, does that tell the searcher anything about what they’ll find there? Nope. However, if you utilize unique blog titles, you can use http://yourblog.com/tractors-and-trailers-for-rent, and people will know exactly what they’re going to find there.


How Does CTR Affect SEO, Anyway?


CTR, at its most basic level, is a metric webmasters can use to see how effective their marketing is. If you’re looking at the CTR of an ad, it can tell you if your advertising budget is well spent—for example, how much you’re paying per click (PPC). If you’re looking at email marketing, you can see how effective your email subject lines are, if the layout and copy are drawing people in, or if the emails are being binned immediately.


Likewise, in search engine rankings, CTR can tell you if people are clicking on your links once they pop up on Google. If they’re not, it could be because your page isn’t ranking high enough. (Are you going to go to the third page of search results to click on something? Probably not.) It can also tell you if you are marketing more effectively than your competitors. (Are you ranking higher than someone else, but your CTR is low? Maybe you need to examine your URLs, meta-descriptions, or keywords, as mentioned above.)


At its not-so-basic level, CTR can directly drive rankings. If people aren’t clicking on your site, then Google devalues your links, meaning it sees that people aren’t “finding it useful”, and they’re opting to go elsewhere.


This sort of feedback loop means that a) you need to have good enough content and descriptions to earn that click, and b) that click affects your rankings, which in turn means you’ll get more clicks as you rank higher.


In fact, unlike ads, which have very low CTR rates and can still be considered successful, search results have much higher click-through rates. In some instances, CTR can be as high as 55% if the site is ranked on page one and has compelling text. This is huge!


Great! So What Do I Do Now?


We hope this primer has been helpful to you. For more detailed information, you can always speak to one of our Personal Marketing Consultants, who would be happy to answer any questions for you. At Zoek, we’re digital marketing experts, and we take pride in helping our clients achieve page one ranking on Google. CTR is an important part of this, so whether you want to take our advice or ask us for our expertise, we’d be happy to help!

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