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CTR Vs Conversion Rate in PPC Campaigns

Posted In: Hidden by Dan Howard,
March 14, 2016


Two important metrics for measuring the success of any paid search campaign is undoubtedly CTR and Conversion Rate. As stated by Google CTR is the number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown expressed as a percentage. A higher CTR suggests that the audience (i.e. the keyword you’re targeting) with an ad is relevant, and is engaging well with your choice of ad copy.


Conversion Rate is very simply the percentage of people that have clicked, landed on site and then converted. A higher Conversion Rate suggests that the people that landed on site found what they were looking for and were happy to take it a step further.


When you’re optimising a paid search campaign, which of the two metrics should you be keeping a closer eye on? Does a high CTR but low Conversion Rate mean that the quality of traffic you’re sending through on site isn’t good enough? Or is it the fact that the website you’re sending the traffic through to isn’t strong enough? The answer to these two questions will help the success of any paid search campaign, as it will let you know whether you have to;


• Change the keywords you’re targeting
• Make your ad copy more engaging and compelling
• Update your landing page to make it more keyword-focused
• Include more call-to-actions (CTAs) on your website
• Or maybe the layout of the landing page needs to be tweaked to make it more keyword-focused and user-friendly.


The only way you’d really be able to find out is by continually testing. But there are a couple of useful metrics that will help shed some light on whether your keyword/ad copy is actually causing your campaign harm, or whether it’s your landing page/website that’s ultimately responsible.


Below are a few things to consider:


The keyword itself


The paid search journey all starts with the keyword, so before you start tweaking ad copy to try and boost CTR, or playing around with landing pages to try and improve Conversion Rates, it’s important the keywords you choose are as relevant as possible to your products or service. There’s no point in improving your ad copy to generate more clicks, if the clicks are ultimately going to turn in to little or no conversions.


Once you’re happy with your keyword list then test away!


The landing page


Let’s say you have a website that sells Adidas trainers and you think the best landing page to send the keyword ‘Adidas trainers’ to is a generic page that contains Adidas trainers, but in fact it also contains Nike, Reebok, Umbro and New Balance trainers on the same page. This is an interesting strategy because you’re presenting the searcher with a range of options, but could you have increased your chances of conversion if you’d sent that generic keyword to an ‘Adidas trainers’ specific landing page?


Negative keywords


If you have a comprehensive list of phrase- and broad-match keywords living in your account it’s worth having regular check-ups on which search terms they’re picking up. You might find one of your broad match keywords is picking up highly irrelevant search terms, and because of this, the ad copy you’ve chosen to show for that particular keyword is no longer relevant – which could have a negative effect on CTR.


Bounce rate


By looking at the bounce rate it will tell you whether people are instantly engaging with what they are seeing, and deciding to browse further. A high bounce rate suggests that they’re not, so it’s a case of figuring out whether it’s the keyword or landing page that’s responsible.


E.g. you might have a keyword that’s ad copy relevant and generating a high CTR, but once the clicks land on site the bounce rate is really high. Equally you may have a piece of ad copy that has a low CTR, but once somebody lands on site the Conversion Rate is really high – suggesting the ad copy might need to be revisited.


Time on site/pages viewed


The time a person spends on site/amount of pages they view also gives you a clearer understanding of how people are engaging with your website after they’ve clicked on an ad. If the CTR is high and the site is generating a lot of traffic, you ultimately want to know if the quality of traffic you’re sending through is good quality.


So if you tend to find that engagement levels are fairly low for a particular keyword, then it might be a good idea to revisit the keyword you’re targeting, or perhaps the landing page you’re sending them too.


To put it another way…


Let’s say you owned a high street shop, and you’ve dressed one of the manikins in the window in a vintage leather jacket – claiming to sell vintage leather jackets in-store. Somebody walks by and is interested in viewing your collection of vintage leather jackets and enters (clicks) the store. If your collection just isn’t their cup of tea and they decide not to purchase anything then that’s fine, it happens! However, because you’re advertising vintage leather jackets in your shop window (ad copy) and that’s exactly what you offer in-store (or your website), the chances of somebody purchasing a vintage leather jacket is still very high.


However, in the same sort of scenario, if somebody enters the store and finds that you sell leather jackets but not vintage ones, then you might find the store ‘bounce rate’ to be quite high. Reason probably being that they didn’t come in to the store to find a run-of-the-mill leather jacket, they came in-store to find a vintage one. In this very example you may also find that the ‘time in store’ is high, but ultimately the people who’ve walked in looking for a vintage leather jacket won’t find what they’re looking for, and leave without buying something.




There’s no point in having a high CTR if the traffic you’re sending through to your site ultimately doesn’t convert. You can spend all the time in the world essentially ‘tricking’ people into clicking on your ad and landing on site, but once they’re there you want them to convert or buy something.


Like any successful paid search campaign, a strong quality score will help to give you that balance between high CTRs and strong Conversion Rates – and is one key area we focus on improving on a day-to-day basis, across all of our paid search accounts.


Ensuring all three stages of the above process are as relevant to one another as they can be, through continuous testing and refinement.



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