Have you noted an extremely low CTR for some of your keywords ? Well, if you are wondering where it comes from you came to the right place. Even more, if you want to know who to tackle it, keep on reading !

Definition of Clickthrough rate (CTR)

The Clickthrough rate is a ratio that represents how often users who see your ad end up clicking it. It shows both the attractiveness of your ads as the relevancy of your keywords.

In short, CTR is the number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown: clicks ÷ impressions = CTR. For example, if you had 6 clicks and 100 impressions, then your CTR would be 6%.

A higher CTR

As mentioned above, the click-through-rate (CTR) is a reflection of the engagement or attractiveness of your ad copy. Google recently launched Responsive Search Ads in order to help us increasing this attractiveness or CTR. This feature combines several headlines and descriptions of our ad copy to find the best performing combination in terms of CTR.

A higher CTR is important. As you may know, CTR is one of the factors that determines your Google Ads Quality Score. A higher Quality Score typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions. Moreover, you might learn which ad copies or call to actions are most speaking to your audience.

Hence, it is a metric on which you wish to report on. In our agency, it is included in almost all weekly and monthly SEA reportings.

Low CTR alert : Our example

For one of our clients, we observed some keywords with freakishly low CTR’s :

Low CTR Example

Pretty low right ?! Sure the CTR depends on what you're advertising and on which networks. Still at first sight this seems low. While digging just one level deeper in the search term report (which is by the way a gold mine) we quickly tracked it down to a couple of search terms :

Search Terms Examples

As you see, these search terms have a crazy amount of volume in terms of impressions, especially the first one, but in relation to that they have zero to none clicks. We hear you thinking : makes no sense. In theory that would imply that our ads have been shown more than 19 000 times to users who were searching for this exact query without a single one of those users clicking on our consciously designed ads.

Yes, indeed that makes no sense.


After this observation our ‘investigation’ started.

Search Terms Low CTR Long Tail

These two elements pushed your towards the cause and the solution.

Search Partners

Turns out all of these websites are Google Search Partners. And sure, the settings of the campaigns that included the respective keywords were set to include the search partner network.

In Google Ads, under your Campaign Settings, you will find Networks. If you noticed a very low CTR in your Google Ads account chances are high the ‘Include Google search partners’ box is ticked.

Before unticking the box, you need to ask yourself the question : “Is CTR really a KPI for this account ?”. It might be that the CPC’s are very low on the Google search partners network. It might be that the traffic is driving conversions. Maybe even at a low(er) Cost per Acquisition. So before making the switch consider all elements.

What it looks like

If you are wondering how your ad might appear on the Search Partner Network here is an example :

Search Partners Example

If you scroll to end right away here is what you want to know. An extremely low CTR might be caused by advertising on the Google Search partners network.

Check in your Google Ads account under Campaign Settings > Networks if the ‘include Google Search partners’ box is ticked. After considering all the pro’s and con’s of advertising on the partner network you could make an eductioned decision are keep it on or turn it off.

Click through to this very interesting next article.

publication author olivier mannekens
Olivier Mannekens

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