Back in 2016, WordStream published its findings on a range of key Google Ads metrics, divided by industry to offer some kind of benchmark for things like click-through rates (CPC) and costs per click (CPC).

While you can’t take findings like these as a strict guide on what you should be aiming for with PPC performance, they can be useful in gauging how results can vary from industry to industry.

Now, WordStream has updated its study with data from 2018 so how does your business compare to the company’s insights?

WordStream updates its Google Ads industry benchmarks

WordStream’s study compiles Google Ads performance data from thousands of accounts, across 16 different industries. It then states average benchmarks for the following metrics for Search and Display networks separately:

  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Cost per click (CPC)
  • Conversion rate (CVR)
  • Cost per action (CPA)

What we’re going to do is show you the benchmarks from the latest report, see how they compare to the data from 2016 and then see what you can take away from the two studies.

Average Google Ads click-through rates by industry

You can see the graphic from WordStream’s study above with average CTRs per industry on the Search Network across the top half of the chart and the Display Network along the bottom.

The graphic also tells us the average CTR across all industries on the Search Network is 3.17% and 0.45% on the Display Network – both of which are higher than they were two years ago.

Admittedly, the graphic isn’t particularly easy on the eye so here’s a table of its findings, which you might be easier to compare.

Industry Average CTR (Search) Average CTR (GDN)
 Advocacy  4.41% 0.59% 
 Auto  4.00% 0.60% 
 B2B  2.41% 0.46% 
 Consumer Services  2.41% 0.51% 
 Dating & Personals  6.05% 0.72% 
 E-Commerce  2.69% 0.51% 
 Education  3.78% 0.53% 
 Employment Services  2.42%  0.59% 
 Finance & Insurance  2.91% 0.52% 
 Health & Medical  3.27% 0.59% 
 Home Goods  2.44% 0.49% 
 Industrial Services  2.61% 0.50% 
 Legal  2.93% 0.59% 
 Real Estate  3.71% 1.08% 
 Technology  2.09% 0.39% 
 Travel & Hospitality  4.68% 0.47% 

Average Google Ads cost per click by industry

Next up, we have the average CPCs for each industry, which helps illustrate how much different businesses can expect to pay for each click they generate from Google Ads. Once again, these are averages and you’re always going to pay a varying amount for traffic. Paying above average isn’t necessarily a sign of poor performance because some clicks are worth paying more for.

That said, some industries are certainly more expensive than others when it comes to Google Ads and it’s always good to know roughly where you stand on this scale. What’s also interesting is that the average CPC across all industries is $2.69 for search and $0.63 for display, which isn’t much on an increase on the averages from 2016 ($2.32 and $0.58).

Here’s a table representation of the data above.

Industry Average CPC (Search) Average CPC (GDN)
 Advocacy $1.43 $0.62
 Auto $2.46 $0.58
 B2B $3.33 $0.79
 Consumer Services $6.40 $0.81
 Dating & Personals $2.78 $1.49
 E-Commerce $1.16 $0.45
 Education $2.40 $0.47
 Employment Services $2.04 $0.78
 Finance & Insurance $3.44 $0.86
 Health & Medical $2.62 $0.63
 Home Goods $2.94 $0.60
 Industrial Services $2.56 $0.54
 Legal $6.75 $0.72
 Real Estate $2.37 $0.75
 Technology $3.80 $0.51
 Travel & Hospitality $1.53 $0.44

Average Google Ads conversion rates by industry

This is one of the more complex metrics to place a useful benchmark on because a conversion can be many things (a sale, eBook download, account creation, email signup and all kinds of other things) while not all conversions are of the same value.

Some businesses can have very high conversion rates while few of them return genuine ROI – for example, as successful affiliate marketing sites can convert a large volume of email signups but only generate revenue through affiliate sales.

Keep this in mind.

What we can tell from this data is that dating sites have really taken off over the past two years with significantly higher conversion rates across the Search and Display networks.

Industry Average CVR (Search) Average CVR (GDN)
 Advocacy 1.96% 1.00%
 Auto 6.03% 1.19%
 B2B 3.04% 0.80%
 Consumer Services 6.64% 0.98%
 Dating & Personals 9.64% 3.34%
 E-Commerce 2.81% 0.59%
 Education 3.39% 0.50%
 Employment Services 5.13% 1.57%
 Finance & Insurance 5.10% 1.19%
 Health & Medical 3.36% 0.82%
 Home Goods 2.70% 0.43%
 Industrial Services 3.37% 0.94%
 Legal 6.98% 1.84%
 Real Estate 2.47% 0.80%
 Technology 2.92% 0.86%
 Travel & Hospitality 3.55% 0.51%

Average Google Ads CPAs by industry

Cost per acquisition is one of the most important metrics among your Google Ads performance indicators and these vary a great deal across industries, much like costs per click.

According to WordStream’s data, the average CPA in AdWords across all industries is $48.96 for search and $75.51 for display. This actually marks a slight drop in average CPAs on the Search network and a small increase on the Display Network since its 2016 report.

Industry Average CPA (Search) Average CPA (GDN)
 Advocacy $96.55 $70.69
 Auto $33.52 $23.68
 B2B $116.13 $130.36
 Consumer Services $90.70 $60.48
 Dating & Personals $76.76 $60.23
 E-Commerce $45.27 $65.80
 Education $72.70 $143.36
 Employment Services $48.04 $59.47
 Finance & Insurance $81.93 $56.76
 Health & Medical $78.09 $72.58
 Home Goods $87.13 $116.17
 Industrial Services $79.28 $51.58
 Legal $86.02 $39.52
 Real Estate $116.61 $74.79
 Technology $133.52 $103.60
 Travel & Hospitality $44.73 $99.13

How does your business compare to these benchmarks?

While it’s interesting to look at this data and compare your own business to industry benchmarks, don’t take these numbers too seriously. First of all, these are averages (who wants to be average anyway) and sample sizes from studies like these are always too small to be accurately reflective of entire industries.

Likewise, there are too many variables in your own Google Ads account to compare yourself too seriously to so-called benchmarks – things like location, your business size, which specific sector of your industry you’re in, how niche your business is, the budget your working with and all kinds of other factors.

If you’re a niche business selling expensive products with very high profit margins, you don’t necessarily need high conversion rates to have a profitable Google Ads strategy, for example. While an online retailer selling large volumes of products with minimal profit margins will probably need CVRs well above the industry average.

As we said, click-through rates are a problematic metric to set industry benchmarks for anyway.

The click-through rate benchmarks in these reports are a little more telling – especially the fact that average CTRs are on the up. This tells us Google’s ever-changing ad formats are improving performance over time, which is good news for the search giant and advertisers alike.

Then we have the average costs per click and acquisition benchmarks. Again, these are going to vary from one campaign to another so don’t set these as targets at the campaign level. But these findings may help explain why you’re spending more or less than business owners in other industries you speak to. In terms of a performance indicator, you may also be able to determine whether you’re spending significantly less than other businesses in your industry and consider whether upping your investment will create a more profitable Google Ads account overall.`