Also known as Click Through Rate
CTR, or Click Through Rate is a metric used in Digital Marketing to measure how effectively a traffic source delivers humans to a website. In SEO, CTR measures how many people see websites in Google Search Results, compared to how many people click the link in the results and visit websites.
CTR is always displayed as a percentage. We use percentages because regardless of how much traffic a website gets, a percentage is easy to digest as a measure of success. In simple terms, if a website appears in Google Search results 100,000 times, and receives 1,000 clicks, then the CTR would be 1%.
With nice round numbers, a click-through rate would probably be easy to wrap your head around without using percentages, but the reality is that the numbers are never nicely rounded off. CTR for SERPs is easily available in Google Search Console. In the example below, you can see the numbers are horribly untidy at first glance.
The formula used to convert pesky complex numbers into nice, simple percentages is as follows:
Total Clicks / Impressions x 100 = CTR %
So how does looking at CTR help us measure how well we have optimised a website? A full breakdown of the importance of CTR in SEO is beyond the scope of this SEO Glossary page; suffice to say that a higher percentage is a good thing. If the number be going up, things be more gooder. SEO folk happy. Eat cake now.
CTR doesn’t only apply in SEO, it’s also a useful metric to use in email marketing. The number of people interacting with your email campaigns, compared to the number of people who receive them, gives you an open rate. That’s your email CTR.
In mass-mailing systems like Mailchimp having a high CTR gives your account a good quality score, which means that more people are likely to see the emails you are sending them.
While we’re talking about good email newsletters, please take a moment to sign up for the Yeseo email newsletter.
CTR is also a crucial metric in pay per click ad campaigns. High click through rates for your search ad affects ad position and can sometimes reduce the amount you are paying per click. But we’re not a PPC agency, so we’ll leave someone else to do a deep dive on the importance of average click through rate in online advertising.
You’ve probably gathered by now that having a good click through rate is a good thing in all aspects of digital marketing. This includes social media, but we’re not going to talk about that right now either.
I want to know more about why CTR is essential in SEO!
A CTR higher than 0% is a sure sign that your website is visible in SERPs. A high CTR percentage is proof that not only is your site visible, but it’s also relevant to people searching for the keywords you’re targeting with your SEO efforts.
Good SEO practice demands constant measurement of Google’s reaction to changes we make on websites. Broadly speaking, if the CTR is dropping, then we’ve either got something wrong, or there is still significant room for improvement.
Here are a couple of aspects of search engine optimisation that can affect CTR, either negatively or positively.
If your keyword research is on-point, then the people seeing your site in Google search results should be in the right frame of mind to want to click the links through to your website. Their ‘search intent’ is aligned with what your website is offering.
If you are running an e-commerce site, then you would be targeting keywords that reflect that the user has the intent to buy something from your website.
If your keyword research is misaligned, you will also have optimised your website for keywords that won’t deliver the right type of visitors to your website. So, even if you manage to rank your site well for the keywords you have chosen, they are unlikely to connect with your audience. So when punters see your link in the SERPs, they are less likely to click it.
It’s easy to conjure up daft, extreme examples to illustrate points like this, so that’s what we’re going to do.
Suppose you were a British exotic carnivorous plant export specialist and you wanted to sell pitcher plants to the American market. In that case, you might have to choose your target keywords very carefully indeed. Someone searching for news on their favourite baseball ball chucker would be highly unlikely to click a search result clearly about plants that eat critters.
So the example we’re giving is extreme, but the point is valid. Without wishing to undermine our argument too much, Google is pretty good at knowing which version of words with double meanings (homonyms) a webpage serves, and it all comes down to context. But that’s a discussion for another time.
If your meta descriptions are weak, people will be less likely to click a link to your site when they see it nestled twixt your competitors in search engine results. The plant/baseball example we used earlier was fun, so here’s another daft example.
Have a look at the badly mocked-up search engine results shown below. Which result would you click first?
Despite the fact that the Chilly Willy result isn’t at the top, you would probably click that one first. We have covered the importance of meta descriptions elsewhere in this SEO Glossary, but remember this; if your meta description is crap, people will be far less likely to click your results in SERPs.
A beautifully crafted meta description will encourage people to click your results, so your CTR will rise.
In SEO, success breeds success. The more times people click your results in SERPs, the more authoritative you appear to the Google gods, and your rankings will improve to reflect your popularity.
CTR – explain it to me like I’m five years old, please!
CTR is a percentage that shows how many punters click through to your website after seeing it in Google Results.