It’s strange how I often get the same question from a number of different readers within a day of each other and then don’t get asked it again for months. The question of the moment seems to be :
“What is a good CTR (click through rate) in Adsense?”
Let me attempt an answer.
I should also point out that revealing CTR is against Adsense TOS – so don’t expect me to pepper this post with real life examples. I’ll also explain for non Adsense users that CTR is ‘Click Through Rate’ – or the percentage of people that view pages with ads on them that click on them.
The problem with comparing CTR (and in fact a lot of Adsense statistics) is that every blog is so different that any such comparison can be problematic – and at times pointless.
Why is comparing Adsense CTR between sites a problem?
The percentage of people who click on ads varies depending upon many different factors. I’ll list a few here – and as we go you might spot a few ways to increase your own CTR.
CTR varies between topics – one of the things I learned in my early days with Adsense after using it on multiple blogs was that despite having the same design on a different blogs, CTR could vary incredibly between one blog and another. One of the reasons for this is simply the topic of the blog. For example some Adsense publishers find that sites with products as a topic tend to get better CTR than sites with non product related topics. They argue that people are more likely to click an advertisment if they are in buying mode and see an ad that might meet their need.

CTR relates to Ad relevancy – if I have a blog about ballpoint pens that has ads for ballpoint pens I have a higher chance of a click than if my ballpoint pen blog has ads for dog food on it. In most cases, the more relevant ads are to the topic of your content – the more likely you are to get clicks. Reasons for ad irrelevancy vary between blogs and might be something that is to do with your blog design (too many uses of the word ‘blog’ for instance triggers blog ads on virtually any topic) , your topic (some topics are difficult for Google to discern) or some problem at Google’s end (I’ve heard of one or two cases where bloggers have written to Google to ask about irrelevant ads and Google have made some changes to fix it).
CTR can vary seasonaly – for example – many blogs report higher CTR on weekends (but lower impressions). Some find that holidays or the lead up to them (eg Christmas) can produce large variations in CTR. These variations can vary from blog to blog considerably.
CTR varies between reader types – It is well documented that blogs and websites with high levels of loyal (repeat) readers tend to get lower CTR than sites with higher levels of search engine traffic. As I’ve written recently – this is because loyal readers can become blind to your ad positioning and design and because SE readers tend to be searching for some specific information that they often want to take some action over – this puts them in a hightened information gathering mode and more likely to click on an ad. Another reader type variation is readers being referred from other sites. I find that these sorts of readers can go either way depending upon what the site referring is but generally CTR is lower. For instance when I get a link from Slashdot I generally expect a pretty low CTR as such a link brings masses of traffic from some pretty tech savy readers who in general don’t click ads much.
CTR varies between ad design and placement options – one massive factor for CTR is the positioning and design of your ads. For example if you put your Adsense ad at the bottom of your page where no one will see it you’ll get a very low CTR – whereas if you position it in a spot where it will be seen it will get clicked on more. The same goes for the colors you choose – select the right colors and you’ll improve CTR.
CTR varies depending upon other site design factors – you can impact the CTR of your ads by using other visual factors. You need to be careful here not to be seen to be encouraging your readers to click ads – but many Adsense publishers have found subtle ways to draw their readers eyes to ad using images, shapes, color etc. One good tip that doesn’t break Adsense TOS is to use spaces around your ads. Studies have shown that ads tend to perform better on a white background with white space around it.
CTR varies depending upon other options to ‘click’ – if your page has no outbound links except for your Adsense ads – the chances are increased that those will be the links that people click on. I was chatting with one person last week who has such a site. He is able to drive traffic to pages on his site with useful content but no other outbound links so that when his readers finish reading his content they either close the browser, hit ‘back’ or click an ad. His CTR was higher on these pages than on others. Of course there are downsides of this approach as his blog is very insular and not interlinked which means SEO is difficult for him. Decluttering your blog can increase CTR.
So there you have some of the reasons why CTR can vary so much. I guess the question remains of ‘what is a good CTR in Adsense?’
Really the only way to answer that question having covered everything that we have just examined is to say that a good CTR will vary from blog to blog.
I’ve seen blogs that have done everything that they can to increase CTR and are still under 1% while have seen others that get into double figures. I suspect that most bloggers fall somewhere in between that and would fit into the 2%-5% range.
Feel free to add your own experiences of CTR (don’t share specifics or you run the risk of getting into trouble with Google) in comments below.