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Organic Click Through Rate (CTR): Does It Matter?

Can increasing organic click through rate (CTR) improve your rankings in Google?

In short:


In this post, I’m going to show you 11 ways to increase your click through rate in Google.

Why Does Organic CTR Matter?

In case you haven’t noticed, go into Google Webmasters tools and click “Search Traffic” and then “Search Analytics”. There you will find an absolute goldmine of data showing your site’s performance for hundreds of keywords in the search results. The biggest data point Google emphasizes is the click through rate.

The question is why?

Google is constantly refining its search engine to make sure that it’s showing users the most relevant, valuable, and unique information available. CTR is a way for Google to determine which results for a particular query are valuable (on the surface).

This is exactly what Google says about CTR: “A high CTR is a good indication that users find your ads helpful and relevant.” – Replace “ads” with organic results and the definition is interchangeable.

Of course, this factor is really only going to apply to results within the top 10. But it can definitely be the difference between ranking #10 and ranking in the top 3. Believe it or not, it can actually combat click bait as well. So, if a particular result is getting high CTR but also has high percentage of pogo sticking/bounce rate and low average time on page, then that result will probably be demoted overtime.

1. Keyword Selection

Yes, the first way to increase your organic CTR is to pick the right keywords! Your keywords need to be highly relevant to what you’re selling or producing SEO content for. Here’s what Google says about keywords and CTR: “The more your keywords and ads relate to each other and to your business, the more likely a user is to click on your ad after searching on your keyword phrase.” Simply replace “ads” with organic results and the same rule applies. Read my keyword research article for help on this.

2. Content

Like your keywords, your content also has to be relevant to the search queries. If people are searching for “dog toys”, but your article about “cat toys” is ranking, then your organic CTR will be low. Common sense, I know, but these mistakes do happen. Sometimes accidentally.

3. Title

Creating a captivating title for the SERPs is the best way to increase your CTR. To create a strong title, you need to study the art of copywriting. SEO isn’t just about rankings anymore. If you want to have success now and into the future, you need to have skills in many different areas of marketing and that includes copywriting.

For SEO purposes, you’ll want the keyword in the title, but use the rest of your real estate to create an intriguing title.

There are two important goals you’re trying to achieve with your title/headline: 1) grab the searchers attention and 2) motivate them to click through.

According to John Caples, there are four important qualities that a good headline possesses.

They are:
1. Self-interest: “Men Will Do Anything For A Six-Pack” – Force Factor
2. News: “Wow, LeBron James looks way different tonight” – Yahoo
3. Curiosity: “Trainers Hate Him” – Force Factor
4. Quick, easy way: “9 Places Where You Can Retire In Paradise Cheaply!” – Business Advice Source

Once you’ve tapped into many of the headline starters above, you can also use some other tricks in your title including: symbols (ü$é øƒ $¥mBøl$) and >?bIpθܙm4 emojis (now supported by WordPress).

4. Description

After you’ve crafted an amazing title, it’s time for you to create a description that’s equally as click-worthy. You have a lot of real estate to work with in a description, so use it wisely. Think of it as if you were writing a sub-headline for a sales page. Explain the biggest benefit of the content, but keep the intrigue high. Obviously take the opportunity to inject LSI keywords in for SEO purposes, but you should really focus on the copy surrounding those keywords.

Here are some great examples:

One important note: do not put your phone number in your description or title. I understand that you’re trying to get direct phone calls, but it will decrease your CTR in the search engines. Having strong organic rankings will produce a greater ROI than getting a few direct calls that will subsequently decrease your rankings because of the low CTR.

5. Call to Action (CTA)

It’s critical that you have a strong CTA in your META description. Just like anything else, you need to push people to take action. “Read now”, “click now”, “when you read this”, etc.

6. URL

If you’re using breadcrumbs, Google will pull this data and put it into the SERPs like so:

This is a small detail, but every element in the SERPs can help boost your CTR.

7. Table of Contents

As I explained in this bonus tip in my article about “Fake Viral Marketing”, a table of contents plugin can increase your CTR in the search results. It’s pretty random when it will show, but when it does it will say “Jump to …insert section…”. This really stands out from the rest of the search results.

8. Rich Snippets

The most common rich snippet you’ll find will be the review stars.

Since authorship is dead, we’re left with these rich snippet options:

  • Restaurants: average review, number of stars, and price range
  • Music albums: lyrics and link to play song
  • People: photos and phone number
  • Businesses: location and customer review
  • Recipes: photos, recipe rating, and time required
  • Video: video image
  • Products: ratings, picture, price
  • Events: event date, location and time
  • Wikipedia: if you have a Wikipedia page, Google will show your brand name in the SERPs.

You have to love the preferential treatment for big brands.

9. Sitelinks

The general consensus is that Google assigns sitelinks to websites it “likes”. Whether this is true or not is up for debate, but it’s definitely a random process. The one factor you do have control over is what sitelinks NOT to show in the SERPs. Go to “Search Appearance”, “Sitelinks” and “Demote” what links you don’t want to show.

Sitelinks almost always show when you search your brand name. However, there are times when they’ll show for specific keyword searches.

Like this:

Basically the only strategy for getting sitelinks is to have a clean and clear navigation, and of course, have a good website!

10. Test

You should constantly be testing your META information to improve CTR. Google’s updated webmaster tools interface has a ton of data that you can leverage. You should track your pages that are ranking well and test out new titles and descriptions. When you make any changes, make sure you annotate inside Google Analytics.

11. Read

Like I said earlier in this article, SEO isn’t just a technical profession. You need be well-versed in a variety of different marketing principles. Evolve or die! I know that’s extreme, but seriously. Read a book or two… or 10 on copywriting and marketing. At the very minimum start with Ca$hvertising.

What are you going to do TODAY to improve your CTR in the SERPs? Let me know in the comment section.

Thanks for reading!

– Gotch

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