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

October 24, 2018

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+.

Here are our benchmarks for average CTR. 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 Google Ads (formerly known as 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).