Google Search Ad CPLs Are Rising. Here Are Benchmarks by Industry.

December 14, 2022

About 9 in 10 (91% of) industries tracked have experienced an increase in Google search ad costs-per-lead (CPL), with the average increase across categories standing at 19%, according to an analysis from Wordstream. Compared to 2021, conversion rates have fallen by 14%, while both CPCs and CTRs are relatively steady.

This performance is similar to the pre-pandemic days of 2019, according to the analysts, with the exception of CTRs, which had increased at the time by 26% year-over-year.

Read on for highlights of industry benchmarks for each of the key search advertising metrics.

Google Search Ad Benchmarks

Average CTR: 6.3%

The average click-through rate for a Google search ad is unchanged this year at 6.3%. However, there are wide disparities when sorting by industry.

Three industries lead the way in CTR, exceeding double digits in each case. They are:

  • Arts & Entertainment: 16.29%;
  • Sports & Recreation: 11.69%; and
  • Travel: 10.29%.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are 5 industries that failed to register a 5% click-through rate:

  • Apparel / Fashion & Jewelry: 2.24%;
  • Shopping, Collectibles & Gifts (General): 2.45%;
  • Furniture: 3.49%;
  • Home & Home Improvement: 3.95%; and
  • Attorneys & Legal Services: 4.71%.

Most of the industries measured enjoyed an increase in CTR year-over-year, despite the average change across industries coming up flat. The biggest decrease in CTR was for the Shopping, Collectibles & Gifts (General) category (-51%), while the largest increase was for Career & Employment (+56%).

Subscribe to our chart library to get access to a handy chart showing the benchmark CTRs and trends for each of the 23 industries.

Average CPC: $2.96

The average cost per click for Google search ads this year is $2.96, with this representing a slight 2% climb from last year’s data.

Several categories had average CPCs below $2 this year:

  • Arts & Entertainment: $0.85;
  • Apparel / Fashion & Jewelry: $1.04;
  • Sports & Recreation: $1.15;
  • Travel: $1.39;
  • Restaurants & Food: $1.49;
  • Real Estate: $1.51;
  • Shopping, Collectibles & Gifts (General): $1.54; and
  • Automotive – For Sale: $1.89.

Wordstream notes that these industries consistently have low CPCs given their high click-through rates.

By contrast, three categories stood out for having the highest costs per click:

  • Attorneys & Legal Services: $8.46;
  • Dentists & Dental Services: $6.69; and
  • Home & Home Improvement: $5.74

The category with the biggest improvement (decrease) in cost-per-click compared to last year was Apparel / Fashion & Jewelry (-53%). The Arts & Entertainment category witnessed the largest increase in CPC, of 44%.

Subscribe to our chart library to get access to a handy chart showing the benchmark CPCs and trends for each of the 23 industries.

Average Conversion Rate: 7.26%

While average click-through and cost-per-click rates were fairly flat year-over-year, the same can’t be said for conversion rates, which dropped by 14% to an average of 7.26%. This metric is defined as the share of clicks that convert, where “a conversion is the completion of the call to action of the ad, such as a purchase or form-fill.”

Leading the way this year in conversion rate are four categories exceeding the double-digit mark:

  • Physicians & Surgeons: 13.94%;
  • Automotive – Repair, Service & Parts: 13.65%;
  • Dentists & Dental Services: 11.73%; and
  • Home & Home Improvement: 10.73%.

On the other end of the spectrum, some categories failed to break the 4% mark:

  • Apparel / Fashion & Jewelry: 1.2%;
  • Furniture: 2.21%;
  • Real Estate: 3.07%;
  • Arts & Entertainment: 3.34%;
  • Shopping, Collectibles & Gifts (General): 3.37%; and
  • Travel: 3.77%.

Overall, 21 of the 23 industry categories measured experienced a decline in conversion rate year-over-year. The drop was most acute for the Apparel / Fashion & Jewelry category, for which Google search ad conversion rates plummeted by 68%. And for those 2 categories that had a rise in conversion rate, it was modest at best: Finance & Insurance (+2%); and Education & Instruction (+3%).

Subscribe to our chart library to get access to a handy chart showing the benchmark conversion rates and trends for each of the 23 industries.

Average Cost-per-Lead: $40.74

The average CPL for Google search ads this year is $40.74, which marks a sizable 19% hike from last year’s average.

The highest CPLs were reserved for 4 categories that exceeded $85:

  • Attorneys & Legal Services: $111.86;
  • Furniture: $91.47;
  • Business Services: $87.04; and
  • Apparel/Fashion & Jewelry: $86.41.

By contrast, 6 industries had average CPLs of less than $30:

  • Automotive – Repair, Service & Parts: $19.85;
  • Physicians & Surgeons: $22.74;
  • Sports & Recreation: $23.57;
  • Arts & Entertainment: $25.46;
  • Animals & Pets: $26.25; and
  • Restaurants & Food: $27.18.

As with conversion rates, things went south for 21 of 23 industries this year. Easily the biggest increase in CPL was for Arts & Entertainment: this category’s average CPL more than doubled, soaring by 134% year-over-year. The Travel industry also saw a sizable increase, of 69%.

Unlike with conversion rates, though, one category saw a significant improvement in its cost-per-lead this year. That distinction belongs to Education & Instruction, with its CPLs falling 29%.

Subscribe to our chart library to get access to a handy chart showing the benchmark costs-per-lead and trends for each of the 23 industries.

About the Data: Wordstream notes that “This report is based on a sample of 79,455 North American-based LOCALiQ client campaign cycles in the outlined business categories that were running search ads between October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022.

Our proprietary platform dynamically shifts budget between search channels on a campaign-by-campaign basis, but in aggregate, approximately 80-85% of budget is allotted to Google and 15-20% to Microsoft.

Each business category includes a minimum of 250 campaign cycles. All currency values are posted in USD.”

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