5 Surprising Benefits of a Super-High CTR


All of my regular readers know that I have a completely normal and healthy obsession with unicorns. I am the Original Unicornaholic.

You should be obsessed with unicorns, too! Too many marketers settle for boring donkeys when there are magical unicorns just waiting to be discovered. Unicorns that will save you money and make you money!

But unicorns aren't my only obsession. I have another: increasing click-through rates.

surprisingly benefits of high ctr

Obviously, CTR is important in PPC marketing. A higher CTR means a higher Quality Score, which reduces your CPC and improves your ad rank.

But it goes much further than that.

A remarkable CTR is not only the most important thing in AdWords, but it is also extremely important for other marketing channels. These include organic search, CRO, social media, and email marketing.

Here are five surprising benefits of having a remarkable, unicorn-worthy CTR across all your marketing channels.

great CTR

1. Much Higher Ad Impression Share

You get big discounts from having a high CTR. Namely, a lower cost per click, which really adds up as clicks accumulate.

This is true not just of vanilla search ads, but all Google properties, whether we're talking about the Google Display Network or Gmail Ads.

But a remarkable CTR doesn't just impact CPC. It also impacts your impression share – how often your ads show up in the first place.

On the Google Search Network, every increase (or decrease) of 1 point in Quality Score can make a huge positive impact on your impression share:

quality score vs impression share

If you can increase your Quality Score by one point, your impression share on average will increase by about 6 percent on desktop.

This is even bigger deal on mobile, where impression share is twice as competitive.

ctr effects on impression share

Increasing your Quality Score by one point would increase your impression share by an average of 12 percent!

Data sources: Impression share data is based on an analysis of approximately 10,000 small and medium-size accounts (spending between $10,000 and $15,000 per month), based worldwide, advertising on the Search network in Q1 and Q2 of 2015.

2. Your Organic Search Positions Will Get A Boost

unicorn ctr

We recently conducted research to test whether achieving above-expected user engagement metrics results in better organic rankings. We observed an unmistakable pattern:

higher than expected ctr on google

  • The more your pages beat the expected organic CTR for a given position, the more likely you are to appear in prominent organic positions. So if you want to move up by one spot (e.g., Position 5 to Position 4) in Google's SERP, you need to increase your organic CTR by 3 percent. If you want to move up again (e.g., Position 4 to Position 3), you'll need to increase your CTR by another 3 percent.
  • If your pages fall below the expected organic search CTR, then your pages will appear in lower organic SERP positions. Basically, if your page fails to beat the expected click-through rate for a given position, it's unlikely your page will appear in positions 1–5.

You want your pages get as many organic search clicks as possible, right? Attracting more clicks means more traffic to your site, which also tells Google that your page is the best answer for users – it is relevant and awesome.

Another thing we discovered was that the weighting of click-through rate is in Google’s organic search ranking algorithms is becoming more important every month this year

high organic ctr

Here I was tracking a group of 1,000 keywords and URLs for the past 5 months. What I found was that the Google algorithm is shifting to increasingly higher CTRs for top-4 organic ranking status.

This is what you would expect to see if Google Search were employing a machine learning-based algorithm that reordered listings based on CTR – people would see more of what they were hoping to see at the top, reducing the need to scroll lower down into the SERPs.

3. Your Conversion Rates Increase

Increasing your click-through rate will also increase your conversion rates. If you can increase your CTR by 2x then your conversion rate should increase by 50 percent.

That's why click-through rate is the most important conversion metric (in my opinion).

For example, look at this data from one large client's account:

high click through rate benefits

This is just one example. We see this same conversion curve in many accounts. (It's just difficult to combine multiple accounts into one graph because conversion rates vary depending on factors like the industry and offer.)

What’s happening here is that if you can get someone excited to click on your website (via email, ads, organic search listings, or whatever), the excitement carries through to sign-up and purchase.


4. Free Clicks From Social Ads

Facebook and Twitter don't have a Quality Score. Well, they do, Facebook just calls it Relevance Score and Twitter calls it Quality Adjusted Bid

Whatever they call their version of Quality Score, having a higher score results in a higher ad impression share for the same budget at a lower cost per engagement. A high engagement rate means your ads will be more visible and more cost effective, as shown here:

high engagement and ctr

Notice how the cost per engagement on Twitter Ads falls dramatically as the engagement rate of the post you’re promoting rises.

One of the surprising benefits of having high engagement on Facebook and Twitter is that you'll benefit from free clicks. How?

On Facebook, if someone shares one of your boosted posts, that will show up in another person's news feed and you won't get charged for any of the additional engagements that happen there.

On Twitter, if you do a Promoted Tweet, when one of your followers retweets or shares it, you'll get more totally free organic impressions.

benefits of high click through rate

5. People Will Actually See Your Emails

Now let's talk about email marketing. How many emails do you get each day? Dozens? Hundreds?

If you engage with the emails that brands and businesses regularly send to you, you'll continue to see them. If not, it might get filed away in Outlook's Clutter folder or it may be relegated to Gmail's Promotions tab – or even worse, the Spam folder.

low ctr dungeon

Case in point:

high email ctr

Microsoft Outlook’s clutter filter regularly filter emails I’ve opted into receiving – including internal emails from my own company! These emails are being filtered out based on machine learning.

What does this mean for your company?

If your emails have a higher CTR (though for emails the better equivalent is actually higher open rate), then it's more likely that your emails will actually get seen, opened, and clicked on. If your click-through rates are terrible, your emails will be rounded up and thrown in the dark "clutter dungeon.”

One thing we did was to delete people from our email lists who were unresponsive. If you're just accumulating emails over many years, why? Do you think someone who has been dormant and never engaged with your emails is going to magically turn into a sale 5 years later?

Deleting half your database is one way to instantly more than double your CTR. Email providers will notice that more people are engaging, making it less likely your emails will end up in the dungeon.

CTR Benefits

Why I’m Obsessed with CTR

There's a reason why click-through rate is one metric I pay the most attention to. Increasing your CTR will result in:

  • More ad impressions
  • Better organic search rankings
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Free clicks from social media ads
  • More people seeing, opening. and engaging with your emails

If you want to enjoy all these great benefits, you need to start optimizing your CTR. Make yours remarkable!

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Sep 27, 2016

This is true that click through rate gives us lots of benefits but one thing its for sure that it helps ranking for sure. Even few big names in the SEO industry has checked it and had seen a positive correlation with rankings.

vera obmana
Sep 27, 2016

people talking about PPC should avoid phrases like "in the first place" :)

"... how often your ads show up in the first place."
was he talking about top ad slot?

Larry Kim
Oct 03, 2016

whoops sorry about that. good catch. i wasn't referring to ad position.

Sri Sairam Subhayatra
Sep 28, 2016

It's very interesting and informative post, thank you so much for sharing your useful information to the people who are looking for it.

Ryan Wordsworth
Sep 28, 2016


Nice Post !! Well explained about importance of CTR and their impact on Quality Score. It will be useful for me. Thanks for sharing this informative post here.

Sep 29, 2016

I have never seen a super strong positive correlation between CTR% and CR%. If you oversell your product, you will then disappoint users who will then bounce. Its not as simple as saying higher CTR% = higher CR%. You need to maximise your CTR% while not over promising and staying true to your offering. You need to manage expectations. A good example of this is the new google extended ads. We see an increase in CTR% but this does not translate into higher CR%.

Personally, I really do not agree with this sentence.

"What’s happening here is that if you can get someone excited to click on your website (via email, ads, organic search listings, or whatever), the excitement carries through to sign-up and purchase."

Excitement can easily lead to disappointment if you over promise. And I don't mean blatantly lying here. You can easily oversell a product/service, and therefore create unrealistic expectations which are not met by your product / offering. E.g using too many adjectives can easily lead to over promising / under delivering!

Larry Kim
Oct 03, 2016

sure. if you promise a free iphone or kittens, but if no free kittens or iphone is to be found, that would not help you conversion rate. Wasn't advocating for deception. But if you can communicate your value in a more clear and exciting way (without making up false stuff) then it will impact CVR.

Amanda Magdziak
Sep 29, 2016

GREAT info - love this article!

Sep 29, 2016

this is a terribly misguided article. firstly you are just spelling out the obvious. anyone with even a basic understanding of cpor ppr or even cpm marketing knows this. but it isnt the most important metric at the end of the day. i could bait 1000000 people & rick roll them, but at the end of the day that brings me nothing. CTR has to wiith your CVR at some-point or you waste money

Larry Kim
Oct 03, 2016

Hi. a few people have commented on the relationship between CTR and CVR. I'm going to clarify here.

The example i provided was from a shopping adwords account.

So, they have thousands of different PRODUCTS.
The products with higher CTR generate higher CVR.

This is not the same as a company doing lead generation who has just one offer (a free consultation, etc.) and comes up with 100 different ads describing the same service. For the CVR to really change, they would have to change their offering a bunch of times and see which one resonated the most.

Basically if you’re selling picnic pants (which are stupid) they will have both a low CTR and CVR, but if you're selling drones (which are amazing) you'll have high CTR and High CVR.

The key to success if you’re a picnic pants vendor isn’t to put lipstick on a pig and try make your picnic pants suck less by adding the words "FREE 2 PAIR" to your ads (etc.) but rather figure out what other more interesting products they could create. Like a drone.

Now, this isn't always possible but makes a big difference if you can. Wordstream, for example, started out in 2008 selling keyword tools. Later in 2010, we switched to selling PPC management solutions - the latter resulted in a +30x increase in the size of our business.

Sep 29, 2016

Larry always covers the best CTR topics. Larry, have you done any testing with sending real clicks to the SERPs to lower bounce and increase CTR?

Oct 13, 2016

That sounds like terrible idea Josh. Your paid clicks wil not lead to any kind of conversions and you will need to keep it up.

Furthermore Google AdWords can detect fraudulent clicks which may even negatively influence your Adrank.

Lauren B.
Sep 29, 2016

A higher CTR does not directly result in a higher Quality Score, as well as it does not equal higher Conversion Rates.

Imagine this - It's Halloween, and you’re a kid trick-or-treating - you're a little older so you know the neighborhood. You know that lady who gives out toothbrushes, and that guy who gives out tootsie rolls and apples - those are the houses you skip. Your friend lives a few blocks over and the whole street gives out full sized candy bars, so you skip over there and fill up on all the candy that you really wanted. No tootsie rolls, tooth brushes or apples!

Imagine that every full size candy bar packed to the brim in your bag equals a conversion, and every house you went to for each full size candy bar equals a click. Some houses gave you 2 full size candy bars, others just 1, your conversion rate is over 100%! If you would have stayed in your neighborhood you know you would have been lucky with a 20% conversion rate.

It was so easy for you to walk over to your friends’ neighborhood you didn't even have to think twice, but imagine if it was too far away. You wanted that full size candy bar, but you just couldn't make it there in time so you got a bag full of tootsie rolls instead. Yuck! This situation is similar to investing your paid search campaign in a standard audience and not taking advantage of your high-converting audiences through re-marketing or a bad landing page experience where the conversion is 5 clicks away; now you’re stuck with all these clicks that convert at a significantly lower rate.

In paid search, a high return is a high conversion rate – but a higher CTR doesn't always amount to a high return. Other factors to think about to increase your conversion rates:
- Re-marketing: Invest more in high-converters
- Landing Page experience: Ask yourself, is it conversion friendly?, Do A/B tests on landing pages
- Ad Copy: Tailor your copy to your searchers queries

A Search experience that is relevant to the searcher from the first click to the last is what really brings home those full-size candy bars!

Elisa Gabbert
Sep 30, 2016

Actually, your CTR does directly affect your Quality Score.

Lauren B.
Sep 30, 2016

Correct, it directly affects, but it does not 'result in' a higher quality score. I'm just saying that it's not the only factor.

Elisa Gabbert
Sep 30, 2016

True, but our data shows it's overwhelmingly the most important factor; CTR and QS are very tightly correlated and it's almost impossible to get a high QS without raising your CTR.

Lauren B.
Sep 30, 2016

I think the point that is missing is that a higher CTR is not an end to itself. It's a mean's to an end, and has to be approached as such.

If you take my Halloween example, if you were told that everyone in your neighborhood was giving away full-size candy bars, but when you went trick-or-treating you found out it was a lie. You wouldn't want to trick-or-treat in your neighborhood, right? You'd possibly leave and go somewhere else. When a searcher is "excited" (as this article says) by an ad and clicks through to the site, the "excitement" doesn't carry through to sign-up and purchase -- that is a silly and incorrect statement. In order for high CTR to be of true value, the key is RELEVANCE. Relevancy is the end in itself throughout every factor.

Rosie Lukaszczyk
Oct 04, 2016

It's sad to know that the reality of these things are because middle children are often ignored/left on their own. Being independent, enjoying their own company, taking risks just to get noticed, etc. I understand why it happens but it doesn't make it any less sad.

Leave a comment