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


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% ad 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+.

You can quickly check to see if your click-through rate is better or worse than average with this tool:

Click here to use this tool on your mobile device

Of course, average is just average. Every advertiser should aim to be better than average.

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).


Feb 22, 2013

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

Elisa Gabbert
Feb 22, 2013

Dang, look at you! Nice CTRs.

Feb 22, 2013

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.

Feb 25, 2013

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. 

arapahoe county bail bonds
Apr 06, 2015

Great article! We are linking to this particularly great post on our website.

Keep up the great writing.

Feb 22, 2013

Eloi,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!).Andy,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!Tony

Ian Rhodes
Feb 22, 2013

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!Ian

Jordan McClements
Feb 22, 2013

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.

Nick Johansson
Feb 22, 2013

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. 

Feb 25, 2013

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.

Feb 27, 2013

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. 

Adwords CTR
Mar 13, 2013

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. 

Dat To
Mar 21, 2013

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.

Jun 17, 2013

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 positions3) The matches structure: is not the same to use broad match that using exact and phrase matches. The CTR is quitedifferent.. Sorry for my English

Jul 08, 2013

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.

Jul 22, 2013

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

Indianapolis Mobile App Development
Sep 13, 2013

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 :)

Oct 09, 2013

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

Oct 23, 2013

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. :(

Dec 09, 2013

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?

Dec 11, 2013

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

burs sorgulama
Dec 17, 2013

my ctr is average 1% very low

Jul 07, 2014

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.

Mohamed Ali*
Nov 03, 2014

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 ?  

Nov 28, 2014

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

David Smethie
Jan 27, 2015

I'm having great results for a client in the finance space. I'm only bidding on very targeted phrase match keywords, so the number of impressions is low. The CPC is relatively high to maintain the #1 or #2 spot, but we're achieving a CTR of over 16%. Because the ads are extremely relevant to the various keywords that we're bidding on, and the landing pages are relevant to our ads, our conversion rate is high enough to make a profit right off the bat. Split testing ads has proven to be invaluable, as minor tweaks, especially in the headline, have a significant impact on CTR's.

Jan 29, 2015

Well this certainly explains quite a bit about our very good quality scores with placements in the 5-6 medium position range! Very good information in this article. Thanks!

Linh Pham
May 27, 2017

Thanks for your article, it's great

kenzy kay
Jan 17, 2018

thanks for the nice article.. i have applied it.. and the outcome is great

Ashraf khalid
Feb 19, 2018

thanks for the nice article...

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