Will CTR Ever Become a Ranking Factor?

ctr ranking factorSince its inception, the ambiguity of Google’s ranking factor(s) has left us figuring out the puzzle for ourselves. Because of this, it has been up to us marketers to determine which of our own ranking factors we should incorporate into our digital strategy, such as click-through rate, bounce rate, and more.

Are these features becoming more relevant to search ranking in 2023 and beyond? Have they been here all along and it just hasn’t been confirmed? To figure that out, let’s take a closer look at what we do know.

What is Click-Through Rate?

Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of the number of clicks to a page or advertisement compared to the number of times that specific item is shown. It is often used to measure the success of an organic or paid marketing campaign.

CTR can be considered a crucial ranking factor because the more clicks that your links are receiving, the easier it is for businesses to track the overall success of their campaigns. On the other hand, lower CTRs can help you and your business decipher what adjustments need to be made to increase traffic to your site.

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is when a person lands on one of the individual pages of your website and does not go any further. Once landing on your webpage, they will leave, or “bounce” off, your website completely without submitting a form, purchasing a product, or even clicking on one of your internal links.

Bounce rate can also be a factor when addressing the success of a campaign or search result because if people are bouncing off your site, there must be something leading them to not convert.

4 Reasons Why We Think Google Uses CTR as a Ranking Factor: A Brief History

Though several theories have accumulated over the years about how CTR could be a ranking factor for Google, here are just four of the most notable ones we want to point out to you as you consider incorporating it into your digital marketing strategy.

1.Google Is Known to Track Clicks on Advertisements and Links

With this known data, the real question here is why would Google track unused data? Even further, why would Google compile data for their search analytics when it comes to valuable links? That is just something to keep in mind when considering CTR itself.

Additionally, since the 2000s, Google has been known to track ad clicks to decipher the overall Quality Score of pay-per-click campaigns through Google Ads. With the Quality Score affecting PPC rankings, we can only assume that Google can use its paid methods for organic searches as well.

2. Google Has Confirmed CTR as a Factor for Personalized Search Results

Though this was confirmed over a decade ago, the mystery still remains whether or not CTR is considered a factor for organic search results. But if it is considered a ranking factor for personalized search, there can be an argument that it is also a factor for organic and regular results as well.

3. Bing Has Confirmed That They Use CTR as a Ranking Factor

Back in 2010, Bing confirmed that they use CTR as one of their engagement metrics when ranking search results. More specifically, if there are links and advertisements in search results that are not receiving clicks, they are more inclined to lower that ranking.

Though Bing and Google can be considered mutually exclusive, the two can provide workarounds in their ranking themselves (as well as how and what they consider).

4. Google Conducting Live Traffic Experiments Amid the Helpful Content Update

Along with rigorous testing across the platform in order to improve search as a whole, Google conducted research in 2021 that included 11,553 traffic experiments to see how individuals were interacting with the new search features. Within this report, Google also claimed that:

“We look at a very long list of metrics, such as what people click on, how many queries were done, whether queries were abandoned, how long it took for people to click on the result, and so on.”

Talk about a dance-around addressing question at hand!

In a change to address the relevance and helpfulness of their new search update, Google is claiming that they are considering people’s clicks when considering which content is deemed “the most helpful.” Though this is not explicitly confirming CTR (and even bounce rate) as a ranking factor at this point, it should be something that digital marketers should be keeping at the forefront of our minds when creating industry-related helpful content for our target audience.

Our Final Thoughts on CTR

Though Google has not explicitly confirmed that they use CTR as a definitive ranking factor, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it definitely could be. Especially with the number of changes Google is making to their search experience and helpful content in 2023, there is some definitive change in the content that is being ranked and how we search for it. We must do our due diligence to consider all of the factors that may or may not be known.

With that in mind, it is important to continue to strive for a higher click-through rate for your personal, organic, and paid search traffic and keep your company’s bounce rate to a minimum!

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Rachel Calvis

About the Author

Rachel Calvis

Rachel is an Online Marketing Specialist at Sixth City Marketing. Her main role is constructing and editing concise marketing copy for our B2B and B2C clients.

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