AdWords Tips

When Is 2% Not a Good CTR? The Relationship of Click-Through Rate & Ad Position

By Tony Testaverde February 22, 2013 Posted In: AdWords Tips Comments: 24

Everyone always asks me, “What’s a good click-through rate?” The standard answer I always hear is 2%. My answer is always, it depends.

If you don’t want your Quality Scores to suffer, you need to think twice about always targeting a 2% CTR. Quality Scores are very dependent on your CTR by Average Position, so it’s worth getting a good understanding of what this means.

So, what does it mean? People will usually click on the top ad of a SERP (search engine results page), because, well, it’s the first thing that they see. Position 1 will always have a high CTR, and CTR will continue to descend naturally in positions 2, 3, 4 and so on. This being the case, Google knows that position 1 and position 4 are not created equal, and therefore does not treat them equally.

Click-Through Rate By Ad Position

Google does not want to give up their prime real estate (position 1) for a 2% CTR when they can triple their revenue with a 6% CTR. Sure, you can bid up and get there, but what will Google do about this? Drop your Quality Score significantly so you are literally paying for it (or reward you with the dreaded “Rarely shown due to Quality Score” message that you may be seeing in your account).

The opposite is true of lower positions. If you’re putting up a 2% CTR in position 8, Google will reward you with a high Quality Score for bringing them clicks and revenue so low on the page. You’ll pay a lot less and may see Quality Scores of 7+.

Grade your click-through rate today!

So, What’s a Good Click-Through Rate?

Here are some good CTR targets, depending on ad position, for some 7+ Quality Scores:

Position 1: 6%+

Position 2: 4-5%

Position 3: 2-3%

Position 4: 1-2%

Position 5 and lower: 1%

Remember, average click-through rate isn’t the only thing that affects Quality Score, but it’s one of the largest factors and deserves some serious attention.

Tony Testaverde is a paid search strategist at WordStream, particularly focused on managing AdWords and Bing accounts for e-commerce and lead gen clients. He studied Economics at Tufts University and has played football his whole life. Born and raised in Gloucester, MA (home of the Perfect Storm, Wicked Tuna, and The Greasy Pole).

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Friday February 22, 2013

Eloi (not verified) Said:

Great idea for a write up !

I think it's a little pessimistic on premium positions, in my markets, we  regularly see CTRs above 10-15% when in premium.

My 2 cents

Friday February 22, 2013

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Dang, look at you! Nice CTRs.

Friday February 22, 2013

Andy (not verified) Said:

I always found that it depended on the type of keyword as well...

When I bid on my own brand name (not everyone does... different blog post), I expect CTRs around 15%-25%. My core-business-terms and related-business-terms tend to follow the pattern you describe. But if I ever bid on a competitor's brand name, I counted myself lucky if I got half a percent - even in position 2.

Monday February 25, 2013

Rolands (not verified) Said:

Hi Andy,


Is it worth bid on competitors name? I had found that bidding on competitors names and models (at least for our niche B2B) results not in low CTR's which affect quality score, but also almost always do not give any conversions. When customer search particular model, he most likey is searching for example product manual, or support. 

Friday February 22, 2013

Tony (not verified) Said:


I agree - a little conservative on the CTR estimates, but I'd use them as a floor for good quality scores.  You're golden if you get into the 10-15% range (must have some good ad copy and offers!).


Good comments, too.  I'd definitely use the number suggested here as targets, but for branded keywords I usually aim for about 20%+.  I've also had the same luck with competitor brands.  If you can get 6%+ for a competitor brand that's awesome, but the intent there is usually to find they're website, so it's a tough play.

Thanks for the great comments!


Friday February 22, 2013

Ian Rhodes (not verified) Said:

I'd agree with the two comments above. CTR expectations can be wholly dependent upon the market (B2B / Retail) and the intent of the keyword (purchase / research).

Brand focused campaigns can typically see CTR levels upwards of 20% CTR as conservative estimates.

To formulate an average CTR expectation (are we talking mobile inc. or separating out mobile campaigns?) can be an exceptionally tricky prospect.

Another potential impact upon CTR expectation setting is through the positioning of the ad. You can comfortably predict a 7.5% - 10%+ CTR if the Ad sits above the organic search results. If, however, the keyword is associated with research-based search where Google choose to place the ads on the right-hand side, expectations would be set considerably lower.

Just some more food for thought!


Friday February 22, 2013

Jordan McClements (not verified) Said:

Assuming position 3 is usually above the search results and 4 is usually at the side of results, and that we are talking about Google Search rather than Google Search Network....

I disagree about the difference in CTR between position 3 and position 4. I think it is much bigger than that.

Friday February 22, 2013

Nick Johansson (not verified) Said:

What about CTR based on industry type? We do PPC for our web design firm and find that in general CTR is pretty low. Whereas when ive worked on clients PPC (sign manufacturer) they typically get a much higher CTR. 

Monday February 25, 2013

Victor (not verified) Said:

Hi Nick!

You'll have to pay more attention to WordStream's research ;) For a brief period of time, we had released the average CTR based on industry type for both AdWords and the Google Display Network. Unfortunately we had to remove it from our website because it was not in compliance with Google AdWords' API policy, but I'm sure that won't stop you from finding out how 24 Hours in the Google Economy could shed some light to your question.

Wednesday February 27, 2013

Becca (not verified) Said:

I think  that long tail keywords give a much higher conversion rate than generics. I believe that generic keywords and long tails are just as important as each other as the long tails have less searches but higher conversions whilst the generics have higher search volumes with a lower conversion rate.


Wednesday March 13, 2013

Adwords CTR (not verified) Said:

You're right about the position affecting your CTR. We also get asked what a good CTR is and it's always different. It depends on the position of the ad (obviously) but also the vertical you're in and whether or not you are using ad extensions since having them can help increase your CTR in many cases as well. 

Thursday March 21, 2013

Dat To (not verified) Said:

Thank you Tony for this timely message. I've asked 3X's about QS to GAdwords Reps and it's frustrating when i don't see what they say match up w/ over 30% of our kw's.  This was never explained by them.  And you've got some great points including the fact that they don't want to give up position #1 for 2% CTR if they can make more $ w/ 6% or higher.

Monday June 17, 2013

anaberges (not verified) Said:

I agree with the global idea, a good CTR depends on the position of the Ad.  Howeber I believe the CTR values depend strongly on the industry, the country and matches structure.

1) The industry: in some business are more competitors betting like tourism, real estate sector, ...

2) The country: the more competitors the lower CTR. For instance, in Latin America you can get really good CTRs in lower positions

3) The matches structure: is not the same to use broad match that using exact and phrase matches. The CTR is quite



Sorry for my English

Monday July 08, 2013

Eric (not verified) Said:

Thanks for this post, I greatly appreciate it.

Where do you get your data from?  As in, how do you know that:

"Position 1: 6%+

Position 2: 4-5%"

The quality of your data source greatly determines the validity of your recommendations.

Monday July 22, 2013

James (not verified) Said:

Besides a great article, congratulations on the first ever pop-up/shadow box I ever filled out after 6 years in web marketing.

Friday September 13, 2013

Indianapolis Mobile App Development (not verified) Said:

Awesome article! I just rolled out my adwords campaign and noticed that while my quality score was really high my CTR were somewhat low. 

Hopefully I can get this fixed soon :)

Wednesday October 09, 2013

Aya (not verified) Said:

Great write up.  Does any one have a resource on where to find CTR based on industry type?

Tuesday October 22, 2013

Vidyut (not verified) Said:

Would similar numbers apply for the CTR in search results? I am getting an average CTR of 2.86 but barely any traffic worth mentioning. I was wondering if the CTR was low, but now wondering if I'm not using keywords that are widely searched, so number of searches are not enough for the CTR to matter. :(

Monday December 09, 2013

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

I am also curious on how you obtain your data for this article.  I currently manage multiple Adwords accounts for my company (real estate industry), and I see some differing information.

I do agree that a Brand campaign should obtain 15%+ CTR, and for us, advertising with the Competitor's brand actually negatively affects us.  The main area that I have seen differing data is that in many cases, my ads/keywords that showup  in the lower ranked range have actually out-performed my higher ranked ones (excluding Brand campaign).

Has anyone else experienced this type of account performance?

Wednesday December 11, 2013

Ayan (not verified) Said:

CTR percentage that you mentioned are very encouraging, especially for newbie to Adwords like me. But I’m confused; as far as I have heard, 2% CTR was considered to be good. And I want to ask that, is it possible to achieve above %5 CTR in high competitive keywords?

Please enlighten me

Tuesday December 17, 2013

burs sorgulama (not verified) Said:

my ctr is average 1% very low

Monday July 07, 2014

pankaj (not verified) Said:

my website CTR is below 1% .Can Anyone tell me the best way to increase the ctr and i do not want pay per clicks ads.  I Just ot know by sharing my links in social media will make it.Please suggest some useful technique.

Monday November 03, 2014

Mohamed Ali* (not verified) Said:

today my search campaign achieved an average CTR for overall campaign higher than 8.

as per what you mention here , what should  I do next ?



Friday November 28, 2014

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

Which is the best ad place due to the increased CTR. My site has very low CTR.

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