Increase CTR With These Tips

February 26, 2007

A common question asked by both newbie and experienced Adsensers is how do I increase my CTR (Click Through Rate)? We all have heard that a high CTR means a higher payout from Google. So what exactly should you be doing to your site or blog to get a higher CTR and thus a higher earning?

Well, I found an article that I read sometime in 2006 and the advice in this article was priceless. It was a contribution by Brad Callen of and I'd like to share it with you all.

Targeted Ads

As AdSense uses keyword matching to deliver ads to your website (they first find out the most important keywords on your website and then deliver ads based on those keywords), it's important that you write keyword-focused pages. If the ads are not relevant to your site's topic, not only will they be out of place but they will also become ‘distractions' – visitors will cast them aside as ‘fluff' that is outside the realm of information that they are looking for. Make sure that each page on your site is focused on a single keyword phrase – use that keyword throughout your article as well as in all the right areas (title tag, header tag). Restricting the focus of the topic you are writing about also lets you write keyword-rich content in a natural, conversational voice – you're not forcing the keywords in but instead talking about them as you would talk to another person.

Proven Ad Formats

Allowing for positioning, colors and keyword targeting, some ad formats still manage to get a lot more clicks than others.

High CTR Ad Formats:

l 336 x 280 (large rectangle)
l 300 x 250 (rectangle)
l 250 x 250 (square)
The reason these formats get more clicks is because they resemble content areas more closely – and as you will read in the next tip, it's easier to position these ads in the most visible areas of your website.

Low CTR Ad Formats:

l 468 x 60 (banner ad)
l 160 x 600 (wide skyscraper)
l 120 x 600 (skyscraper)
Banner ads almost never work – the format is synonymous with traditional advertising and because of this it tends to get ignored (ad-blindness). On the other hand, while skyscrapers aren't bad in design themselves, they suffer in CTR because their positioning usually means that they are on the sides (where navigation tends to be), and away from the center of the page (where the main content is).

The only time I've seen banner ads work are if they are placed at the bototm of an article - but even then the CTR is too low to merit any recommendations.

Avoid the low CTR ad formats and stick to the high CTR ones on your websites. In fact, use the 336 x 280 rectangle format whenever possible, and use the other two (high CTR formats) only if space is limited. But make sure that you tie in this tip with the next two as well.

Optimal Ad Positioning

The position of your ads will have a great impact on whether your readers pay attention to your ads, and as a result it will affect your CTR as well. You want your ads to be in the center and middle of the page – to make sure that they get maximum visibility. Of course, you still have to make them look like part of the text, otherwise you'll just turn readers off and they will close the page instead of clicking on a link or an ad.

There are two ways to place ads inside content:


Place rectangle ads above the content (below the heading, above the content body) – so if you were had a page on “link building” it would go something like:
Link Building
336 x 280 rectangle adblock rest of the page content
Place rectangle ads inside the content (aligned to the right or left) and let the content wrap around them (scroll above and see the ads at the top of this page to see what I'm talking about).

I personally prefer the second option, as it allows you to put ads in a prominent location without giving your website a spammy look, but in some cases if it is implemented right you can pull off the first strategy as well.

Color Combination

As a general rule of thumb, blending your ads in with the colors of your website will increase your CTR because it will cause your ads to look less out of place and more like part of the content. So if your website's background is white, the ad background and border color should be white as well. If the site's background is gray, make sure the ad background (and border) is of the same exact color as well.

Similarly, the link text color should also match that of the site text.

There are two more points to think about – the link URL and advertiser URL colors.

Traditionally, choosing a ‘blue' link url color works best, no matter what your site color theme, because people are used to understanding blue underlined text as being a link that can be followed (this goes back to making ads look less like ads and more like the text around them). Add to this the fact that search engine users are the most likely people to click on ads, this means that you don't really need to worry about your link url color standing out too much – for the target group of visitors who are most likely to click on your ads, they wont have enough time to get used to a different color scheme on your website. For them, blue links are the most noticeable and obvious routes of getting access to more information.

For the advertiser URL link, try to make sure that it does not ‘stand' out from the page. You can do this by choosing a color that complements (and not contrasts) with the background color of your site. On a white background I'd suggest going with light-gray. All this is designed to make your ads look less like ads and more like regular text.

Hope this post was of help to you.


Thanks for that, I used to wonder why sometimes I have clicks but no pays. Now it is clear. | Kelvin | 03.05.2007 |

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