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Calculating Click Through Rates

A website’s Click Through Rate (CTR) is best described as the proportion of visitors who click on a specific hyperlink. The CTR is therefore essential in measuring the success of a particular online advertising campaign. In this latest blog, Relevance reveals how to succesfully and accurately calculate Click Through Rates and how to analyse the subsequent data.

There are several programmes that reveal average CTRs but much of their information is based on averages. Consequently, many SEO industry professionals have questioned their reliability.

However Google Webmaster Tools is one of the most accurate and trusted of these programmes, useful for researching which keywords are driving traffic to your site and their effectiveness. Google Webmaster Tools profiles can also be synchronised with the corresponding Google Analytics accounts for even more refined data harvesting.

When analysing CTRs however, it is essential to be prepared for highly varying results. While it is possible for some keywords to achieve upwards of 35% CTR for position 1 ranking, others only manage 15%. Much of this peculiar characteristic depends on the landscape for that particular keyword including brand influence, keyword competition and relativity to the search.

The following Google Webmaster Tools graph displays the combined number of impressions and clicks of different keywords for one particular website. This graph precedes a chart of each of those keywords and their individual CTR performances automatically calculated.

With CTRs varying so greatly for each keyword, it is important to know what you’re looking for In order to conduct a successful CTR analysis. Google Webmaster Tools presents information in several ways and so researching the right parameters can prove important when pursuing more accurate and useful results. For example, with Google Webmaster Tools only able to show three months of data at a time the timescale and dates of your research must be carefully considered especially if the website is subject to seasonal traffic fluctuations. ‘Location’ of website visitors is another search parameter to be carefully deliberated during CTR analysis.

Use ‘Search Queries’ to find this information, and then compile a table from the subsequent data into a CSV spreadsheet. The subsequent spreadsheet allows keywords to be ordered more easily and analysed each on its own merit, an important function considering different types of keywords produce different CTR results.

Branded keywords for example tend to have a higher CTR than non-branded ones (although traffic on branded terms can vary greatly due to factors outside of SEO i.e. media advertising). Meanwhile the targeted ‘longtail’ keywords attract less traffic than the more general ‘head’ terms. this information is represented in the graph below, courtesy of Branded3.

Using alternative Excel functions, an accurate CTR calculation can be achieved by dividing ‘Clicks’ (How many people have clicked on the website from the Search Engine Results Page) by ‘Impressions’ (How often the website appears in the Search Engine Results Page for the specific term): CTR = Clicks/Impressions

All SEO companies will know the value of visit metric reports for their clients. Year on year comparisons of CTRs are one of the best ways to demonstrate the impact of SEO efforts on traffic growth and revenue growth. Correctly calculated CTRs are a tool not to be underestimated.