When evaluating the click-through rate (CTR) for keywords in Google Ads, we often forget that what we are looking at doesn't really give us a complete picture of what is actually happening. When someone searches on Google, their click can lead to a paid listing, but also to an organic listing. Therefore, evaluating the effectiveness of your ads or your presence based on the click through rate of Google Ads can be misleading as it obviously doesn't take into account what happened on the organic page. You might see a 20% CTR in Google Ads, but the other 80% might have been heavily absorbed by your organic listings. This would mean that your concerted efforts between SEO and paid search are working very well and you don't have to aim for a higher CTR. This blog outlines one approach to calculating effective CTR, or your click-through rate, when you factor in both paid and SEO traffic.

Theory

Essentially, we're trying to determine how present our business is for a given keyword. So we try to calculate the percentage of clicks we received for this keyword from both paid and organic listings, as it relates to the total search volume over a period of time. We can call our metric the effective click-through rate and define it as follows:

Effective CTR = (Organic Clicks + Paid Clicks) / (Keyword Search Volume)

The number of paid clicks can easily be derived from a search query report. You can find the number of organic clicks in the Google search console. The one metric that is difficult to determine is total search volume for keywords. This can be estimated in several ways:

  • Using the Keyword Planner Tool: The Keyword Planner Tool allows you to display monthly searches for a specific term. You want to make sure you have the correct location and date range to get a fair estimate. Here are the settings we would use if we wanted to see an estimate for July 2020 in the US only.
  • Using tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
  • Calculate an estimate using search impression sharing: Impression rating is the number of times your ad has been shown divided by the number of times your ad has been shown. If any of the following is trueYou can divide the total number of impressions received by the corresponding impression to estimate how many impressions you were able to receive, which in theory should be close to the total search volume for that keyword.
    • You bid on a specific keyword as an exact match
    • That no other keyword in the account could possibly steal traffic from the exact version of the match that you set up
    • That you address everyone in the place where you study,

A practical example

We want to know how a branded keyword is doing in a specific month in a specific location.

Step 1: Finding Organic Clicks

For this brand we have access to the search console via Google Analytics.

Search console in Google Analytics

We then use land as the secondary dimension and filter by the location we want. In this case, our keyword received 294,012 clicks and 572,024 impressions.

Step 2: Finding Paid Clicks

Since this brand bids on their branded keyword as an exact match, we can use a keyword report to extract the number of clicks on the keyword. We found that our keyword received 196,621 clicks.

Step 3: Find the Keyword Search Volume

To keep things simple we can find an estimate in the Google Ads Keyword Planner. In this case, the Keyword Planner gives us an estimate of 550,000 search queries. Note that we received more impressions organically, so this number is slightly different. For this calculation, assuming a certain error rate, we can use 573,000 as an estimate.

Estimate the effective click rate

Estimated effective click rate = (294,012 + 196,621) / (573,000) = 85.6%

How could that be helpful?

For the month examined, we can say that around 85.6% of the clicks are related to our keyword. If this client's goal is to have 80% overall brand coverage in Google SERP, we know that we are effectively absorbing the required number of clicks, even if our Google Ads click-through rate is around 54%. On the other hand, if we want to cover about 90% of the requests, we know we may still have a little work to do. You can do the same analysis on every keyword in your account and determine if you want to absorb more clicks and develop a strategy that takes into account both paid and SEO efforts.

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