Adsense CTR: What's Ideal or Not? High or Low Percentage?

Adsense and CTR

There are several confusions around CTR. It's more confusing to differentiate between Adsense CTR or search results CTR? And as important as this term is to people like you and me who are making money from native ads such as Adsense, this term should be well understood. Understanding what it means will not only save us the headache but will help us in tailoring our efforts to increasing or reducing it.

There are several things to talk about in this post. I will be concisely talking around:
  • Meaning of CTR
  • Adsense CTR and Search CTR
  • Identifying an Ideal CTR
  • Possibility of Targeting the Right Ads to Increase CTR
  • The danger of Increasing CTR
  • Possibility of Decreasing CTR
  • Safety of CTR? 
  • Problems with a low CTR

What's CTR?

This is the acronym for Click-Through Rate. It is the percentage or ratio of the number of times visitors to pages click on the shown ads to the number of times the ads are shown. By Maths, it's the ad click times over the ads shown times.

Ads Click/Ads Shown = CTR

Of course, this is measured in percentage. Hence, the representation will be ads Clicked over Ads shown multiplied by 100.

For instance, if you have 100 pages on your blog showing ads. And all the pages were visited by people who clicked 15 times. Your CTR will be 15/100*100 equals 15%.

One area of confusion is when you're trying to differentiate between Click through Rate terms like Page CTR, CTR, and Search CTR.

Checking your Adsense report, you may see that you have Page CTR more than 15% but CTR is only 3.5%? How do you interpret that?

Page CTR

The page clickthrough rate (CTR) is the number of ad clicks divided by the number of page views. That is, Page CTR = Clicks/Pageviews

For example, if you received 17 clicks for 150 page views, your page CTR would be 0.11%. (17/150= 11%).

NOTE: This page CTR doesn't have to indicate the number of pages containing ads. It's just overall number of times visitors click through to your pages when shown up in search results compared to the total number of times your pages were shown in the search results.

Here, the clickthrough rate (CTR) is the percentage of post impressions that led to a click. That is, CTR = Clicks/Impressions

Ad CTR

For standard ads, your ad clickthrough rate (CTR) is the number of ad clicks divided by the number of individual ad impressions.

Ad CTR = Clicks/Ad impressions. For example, if your ad received 5 clicks out of 1000 ad shown, your ad CTR would be 0.5%.

This indicates the number of times visitors to pages clicked on the ads shown to them compared to the total number of times pages visited showed ads.

In summary, the page CTR should give you the idea of how well your posts are being clicked through to pages containing ads. While Ad CTR gives you the idea of the rate at which people click on your ads after landing on your pages.

Search Results CTR

Also called the Organic click-through-rate, is the percentage of searchers that click on a search engine result. Organic CTR is largely based on ranking position, but it is also influenced by a result’s title tag, description, URL, and presence of Rich Snippets.

This is the average of your content impression versus the times they're being clicked through.

Interpretation of CTR By a Publishers and Advertisers

As this post aims at educating publishers more than advertisers, I will focus more on the importance of CTR to the former. But in brief, advertisers will interpret high percentages as an indication of good placement of his ads and possible high conversion and sales while still able to reduce the cost of ads.

As for the publishers, there are mixed reactions to a high figure. The higher it is, the more certain you are that you'd appropriately placed ads on your website. It means you're placing ads at the right positions in your content. This may lead to high CPC because more publishers will like to bid for spaces where readers are more responsive.

On the other hand, lower CTR may signify you're not placing ads right, your visitors are not responding to ads, ads are not relevant to your audience, etc. Hence, you may be forced to lower CPC. 

In the case of a higher figure too, advertisers may reduce their CPC or choose to pay by impressions (click per mile - CPM) instead of clicks (pay per clicks). 

What Percentage of CTR is Ideal?

There seems to be a general consensus among content publishers that you should maintain a not-too-high CTR. This of course is true with Adsense and probably with other similar native ad networks.

However, it's hard to conclude on a specific percentage to maintain. Our fear is if you have a higher percentage, it may put your Adsense account at risk of education in CPC or possible account suspension or a total ban.

Google can, of course, ban your account for an unbearable spike in the figure. Yet, it's very certain of what is real and what's a scam.

For example, if your percentage increases from organic traffic clicks, you're safe. But if you get involved in certain cheap promotions that lead to click bombing and rise in CTR, you may be fired.

It doesn't matter if your CTR is 50% or 1%, what matters is how genuine those clicks are. If clicks are leading to conversions and sales, Google is aware. It can decide your fate based on that. Your account should be safe despite an increase in the percentage if advertisers' return on investment (ROI) is commensurate. If otherwise, that figure may pose some threats to Google's and its clients'  businesses.

Unfortunately, as publishers, there's no way to measure if your ads are leading to sales or otherwise. This is why it may be ideal to maintain a figure less than 10%. The Click-through rate shouldn't be too aggressive.

More on this later.

Is it Possible to Increase or Decrease CTR as a Publisher?

Yes. You can take certain steps as a publisher to increase the rate at which your audience click through your ads. One thing you're disallowed from is encouraging people to click on your ads. If you do, directly or indirectly, you're an automatically signing off for Adsense.

In order to improve your CTR, take the following steps:
  1. Place ads where people are. Ensure you monitor where your audience takes more action. Ads at the top of each post had consistently done well. Ads in the middle of your posts can attract more clicks especially if you put them where readers are likely to stop reading. 
  2. Make ads more visible and different from your main content. Large ads such as skyscrapers by the sidebar or at the center of your post attract more clicks. Ads such as anchor can follow your audience around the pages - for possible clicks. Using a different color for your ads will help it stand out from regular content.
  3. Block irrelevant ads. If your visitors are genuine especially from organic sources, you should see high CTR. If it's still low, it may be due to irrelevant ads serving on your pages. Check the list of ads on your Adsense account and block those that are not directly related to your niche.
  4. Use Auto Ads. Google introduces auto ads to help you place advertisements in the right places across your pages. Auto setting will only serve ads where people are active instead of having a bunch of idle ads across your content.
  5. Less can be more. Provided you don't place more ads than content on your pages, you can put a combination of ad units, link units, and/or search boxes on each page of your site. I share my experience with fewer ads in my post, "Tactics to Quickly Increase Blog Earnings With Small Traffic". Sometimes, go for less and it will spike your CTR.

Is Increase in CTR Dangerous for Adsense?

First, be informed that Google itself can't decide what an average CTR is.

AdSense publishers and advertisers serve a very dynamic, diverse market. What may be a high clickthrough rate (CTR) in one industry or vertical may be considered low in another. So, it's difficult to determine an 'average' CTR for everyone.

Therefore, it won't be ideal to jump to the conclusion that if you make efforts to increase your CTR, it may compromise your Adsense account. But, as earlier noticed, be sure you're not aggressive about it. Be mindful of the sources of your traffic. Organic traffic will still keep your account safe if your traffic comes from search engines.

Is Low CTR a Problem to Earnings?

In fact, there is a need to go back to the basis. Google doesn't just pay you by the number of times people click on your ads. They pay by the keywords.

Earnings may entirely depend on your niche. A click on ads for certain keywords, such as insurance, degree, online SEO, lawyers may earn you bigger than 100 clicks from less paying keywords.

Counties of traffic is another factor that may mare or make your purse. A click from American traffic may earn more than a dozen clicks from an African country. More on this in the post "Tactics to Quickly Increase Blog Earnings With Small Traffic".

Hence, your lower CTR may not be a threat to your earning potential if you have quality keyword and traffic. With 1% CTR you can be fine. However, if your niche keyword is low-paying and you're targeting Ghanian traffic, 50% CTR may not really matter as much.

Conclusion

Every publisher, especially those using Adsense should understand what CTR is and how it affects earnings. While some information about it is a mere misunderstanding, an increase or decrease in the figure shouldn't pose any threats. It all depends on different other factors as well covered in this post.

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