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Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Brief summary

The click-through rate, often abbreviated to CTR, describes the ratio of clicks to views and (more specifically) the ratio between the number of page views and the number of clicks on a specific link. The click-through rate is considered a key performance indicator (KPI) in online marketing, especially for banner advertising and other types of advertising paid for on a per-click basis.


Detailed Summary

Advertising is everywhere. It’s also treated with much indifference – whether it’s a magazine advertisement that the reader simply flips over, a TV spot where the viewer switches the channel, or banner advertising that the user ignores as irrelevant. Online marketing gives website operators a decisive advantage: You can use analysis tools to determine how many users have actually shown interest in your featured advertising. The ratio between the number of people who clicked on banner ads, for example, and the number of people who ignored the same ad is referred to as a click-through rate. Therefore, the CTR is an important indicator of whether a marketing measure works.

The click-through rate is also frequently mentioned in connection with SERPs. The CTR is tracked as normal; what is determined here is how frequently a website shows up in Google’s SERPs alongside how often it was clicked. Google Search Console offers appropriate analysis tools for this purpose.


What Is an Average Click-through Rate?

As with most online marketing measures, there is no general click-through rate that can be universally applied. However, in most cases the CTR is in the per-thousand range – which means there will be only a handful of clicks for every 1,000 views. Older studies put the average click-through rate at about 0.1 percent, and given the ever-increasing prevalence of ad blockers and rising user awareness, this percentage could decrease. However, with the improved deployment of thematic advertising aimed at target groups, click-through rates of between 1 and 3 percent can be achieved. Banner advertisements, which have been popular for several years, and sprawls across the screen “blocking” the actual website also achieve a healthy CTR – often 10 percent or more. However, user “misbehavior” must also be considered because this type of advertising may generate false clicks – users often try to close the banner using wild, speculative clicking and inadvertently end up on the linked page. For this reason, the effectiveness of banner advertising is a controversial issue in online marketing.

Higher click rates of between 3 and 15 percent are quite common in email marketing. But please note that simply opening an email increases the number of views. A lot of promotional emails end up unopened in the recycle bin, so the click-through rate is slightly distorted.

The situation is different when it comes to banner and other forms of advertising on social media sites like Facebook. Users seem particularly “click-friendly” because the click-through rate is about 11 percent, which is significantly higher than the click-through rate of a normal website.


How Significant Is the Click-Through Rate?

Because the click-through rate is very easy to measure, it’s not surprising that it’s often chosen as a key performance indicator. However, it should be noted that the click rate is only suitable for evaluating certain factors. For example, the CTR cannot provide any feedback about the actual success of a marketing measure. Unfortunately, this is forgotten all too often, so many AdWords ads and Facebook campaigns ultimately miss the mark.

The decisive factor is not how many clicks can be generated by banner displays and other website advertising, but the conversion rate  – the number of users who clicked on the banner and then actually bought something. This can be illustrated very easily by an example: If an ad on a social media page like Facebook costs $1 per click and 120 out of 1,000 users click on the advertisement, initially it sounds quite promising. However, if only 2 of these 120 visitors result in successful conversions, then only 2 people will actually become customers, which probably means the advertising is not very efficient. The advertising expense of $120 for 120 clicks would then have to be offset by the resultant turnover profit, which is rather unlikely with 2 customers.

Nevertheless, the CTR is a KPI and an important criterion for online marketing analysis. For example, different internal advertising measures can be compared using the click rate. Is the eye-catching banner more effective, or does simple and straightforward banner advertising attract more clicks? Does the new advertising concept really attract more attention than the old one? Is advertising on one website attracting more visitors than it does on a different site? These and similar questions can be answered using the click-through rate.

When the CTR is compared with the conversion rate, even more far-reaching conclusions can be drawn. For example, if an AdWords campaign attracts a lot of visitors, but the conversion rate is low, you may want to think about the design of your landing page. In addition, the efficiency of advertising can be compared across different portals using the CTR and conversion rate. This allows banners to be targeted at social media pages, fan portals or on Google for example.


Click-Through Rate, SEO and SEA

The click-through rate is also an important factor for search engine optimization – not the CTR for banner ads, but the click rate in the SERPs. You can determine how attractive your website’s meta description is with the help of the click-through rate. If the site often appears in the SERPs but is rarely clicked on, this is an indication that the meta description is not appealing to potential visitors. An optimization of the meta data according to SEO standards can often achieve a noticeable improvement.

In addition, the click-through rate offers an interesting comparison between regular customers and those who have found their way to the site via a search engine. Scoring well with the latter group is an indicator that your SEO measures and site content are effective and that your site can meet the expectations of “search engine customers.”

In addition, the CTR also informs the evaluation and optimization of Search Engine Advertising (SEA). As mentioned above, the click rate is not an absolute measure to assess the success of search engine advertising, but it’s certainly a prerequisite for effective online marketing in this particular area. There are several ways to increase the CTR to provide the foundation for a high conversion rate. This includes individualized advertising tailored to different target groups as well as a targeted selection of pages on which advertising is placed. In addition, A/B tests are often performed to find the most effective choice among several display variants.



The click-through rate is an easy-to-find and useful tool for assessing the behavior of visitors on a website. Click-through rates are of great importance in online marketing as they can, among other things, compare the effectiveness of different advertising measures. However, the click-through rate alone is a very limited indicator of the success of a campaign because conversion rates should also be considered. Once these are included, a fairly clear picture emerges as to how much attention your advertising attracts and whether your site content delivers what the advertising promises.

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