The key to a successful website isn’t just being on the first page of Google. Yes, discoverability is important but, if your audience isn’t clicking on your page then you will struggle to convert visitors into customers.
While creating content, optimizing backlinks, and using the correct keywords are important, you also need to focus on your Click Through Rate (CTR).
In this article, we will tell you what CTR is, how search engines use it, and how to improve yours so that you turn your website into a space where your audience actually wants to spend their time.
What Is Organic CTR & How Is It Determined?
CTR is the ratio of clicks versus the number of searches (impressions) for any given search term (keyword) on your website. To determine your organic CTR, you divide organic clicks by the number of impressions for the keyword in question. The result is expressed in percentage terms. This percentage term is your CTR.
How Is CTR Used by Search Engines for Rankings?
The debate of whether CTR is a ranking factor or not is still ongoing. The truth is, Google is not 100% clear on whether it uses CTR as a ranking factor. However, various industry professionals have their own opinion based on independent research.
A 2016 experiment compared the CTRs of over 1,000 keywords from the same niche. The study suggested that RankBrain boosted the rankings of the pages with a higher CTR. However, that did not answer the question of whether CTR is used as a ranking factor because the study was conducted on pages with an already healthy ranking. And, as we know, pages with a higher ranking are typically more likely to be clicked on than those on pages 3, 4, 5, and further because they are more visible.
On the other hand, many studies have been undertaken to disprove the theory that CTR is a ranking factor for search engines. This is because this potential ranking factor could be subject to manipulation. After all, if you can buy social media followers, why wouldn’t you buy clicks on your pages?
And, lastly, there is the mere fact that Gary Illyes from Google clearly states that CTR is not a ranking factor for the search engine in his interview at 2016’s Pubcon Las Vegas.
So, our verdict: No CTR is not a ranking factor, however, it is important to the overall performance of your website. And, it can provide you with valuable insights to improve the quality of your content which, in turn, can support your rankings.
Improving Your CTR: The Principles
When it comes to improving your CTR, content is key. But, it’s not just the body of the content. Special attention needs to be paid to your title, headlines, and metadata to ensure that you create click-worthy content that your audience wants to engage with.
In addition to the quality of your content, it’s also important to create content that Google can identify and read. While we’ve established that CTR is not a ranking factor for Google, increasing your visibility through good SEO will undoubtedly increase the traffic to your page. In other words, the more people see your content, the more likely they are to click on your page.
And, lastly, you need to do your research to maintain a competitive edge. Find out what’s working for your competition and do your very best to do it better.
Best 13 Ways to Improve Your CTR
So, what are the specifics when it comes to improving your CTR? We highlight 13 ways to increase your click-through rate below:
1. Optimize Your Current Content
As mentioned previously, content is key when it comes to CTR. With this in mind, you should identify content on your website that needs improving. To do this, navigate to your Google Search Console and complete the following steps:
Step 1: In the ‘Performance’ section of the page, click on ‘Full report >’.
Steps 2 & 3: Then, choose the ‘Search type’ and ‘Date’ bracket most relevant to you. Identify your Average CTR and tick the box above this number.
Step 3: Scroll down below the graph. Here, you will be able to see the CTA for each page on your site.
Step 4: Work on improving the content on pages that have a CTR lower than your average CTR. In this example, the average CTR is 20.3% meaning we would focus on improving pages with a CTR lower than 20.3% as these will be driving down the average CTR on the website.
Using this reporting system will allow you to establish which pages are supporting your progress and which ones are hindering it so that you gain a better understanding of where you need to focus your efforts.
2. Write High-Quality Titles & Headlines
A good place to start when it comes to improving content is your titles and headlines. Here are some tips:
Simplify Your Title & Your Title Tags
If you write a purely SEO-based title crammed with keywords, it most likely will not be welcoming to your audience and thus, will not lead to many clicks. The key to a good title is short and sweet – You don’t have to create a complicated title to rope people in.
To decide which content to click on, your audience will skim through the various title tags on the search engine page. If they see a long title that is cut off and doesn’t get to the point, they’re less likely to click on it.
Here are some tips for writing a click-worthy title tag:
- Explain what the post or page is about
- Keep your title tag short (Less than 70 characters)
- Use your personal or professional branding to mark yourself as an authority
- Put your brand name at the end of your title tag
Here is an example of a high-quality title tag:
Think About Using Brackets in Your Headlines
Data suggests that adding brackets to your title may increase CTR by up to 40%. It’s important to note that the content in brackets should highlight the added value that you are offering that your competitors are not. Also, added content in brackets should not overpower the topic of the article or page, nor should it become a priority over your brand name.
Listicles are particularly popular among web visitors today. With this in mind, if you have the opportunity, add a number in your title and provide them with a specific number of tips to address their pain point.
Capitalize Your Titles Correctly
Correctly capitalizing your titles will make your titles, title tags, and headlines stand out from the crowd. When doing this, you should capitalize major words such as verbs, nouns, and adjectives while leaving minor words lowercase. You can use a free tool such as Capitalize My Title to check whether your titles are correctly capitalized.
Leverage the Power of Paid Ads to Test Your Titles
Creating a click-worthy title can take time. To ensure that you’re hitting the mark each time, don’t be afraid to test your titles. One of the best ways to do this is to leverage the power of PPC campaigns.
If you have the budget, chose a page with a low CTR but that you rank highly for. From there, create a PPC campaign for it. This technique will allow you to test different headings and descriptions to identify which one receives the most clicks. Once the campaign has run its course, you can use the winning heading and description on your organic page to improve your organic CTR.
3. Make Your Meta Descriptions Relevant
Your meta description is your second chance for luring your audience in. This is the short piece of text below your title tag. Here are some guidelines for writing a killer meta description:
- Make it no more than 160 characters long
- Tell the user what your page is about
- Compel them to click on your page or post with a clear call to action
- Answer your audience’s problem in your meta description
- Use emotional language that speaks to your audience
Your meta description is your chance to prove to your audience that your page is the one they should click. Use it to pitch your worth to them.
4. Optimize Your URLs
When creating your URL, make sure that it clearly describes the content that you are sharing. If your URL consists of a row of random numbers and letters, users are less likely to click on it.
This is also an opportunity for you to reinforce your SEO efforts, show relevance, and highlight your authority by including your primary keyword in your URL. And, last but not least, keep your URL short and sweet to make it easier on the eyes.
5. Use Emotional Language
The type of language you use will have a direct impact on how your audience interacts with your content. You want them to feel something so don’t be afraid to get emotional.
While you don’t want to be clickbaity, using words that express a sentiment can be the difference between someone clicking on your page and not. Some words you could include in your titles include:
Remember that the sentiment you’re conveying doesn’t have to be positive. If you’re writing a post that aims to stop your audience from undertaking a specific action, you can also use words such as “Worst” and “Avoid”, for example.
6. Use Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are keywords that are longer and more descriptive in nature. These keywords are normally four words or more long and have a lower search volume, however, they are a far more reliable way of expressing your intent. Moreover, these long-tail keywords are more likely to be used in voice searches and when customers and clients are further down the sales funnel.
Descriptive keywords can help improve your CTR because they are more relevant to users and, therefore, instill more confidence that your content will address their pain points.
7. Add Images to Your Posts
Adding images to posts with file names and alt tags relevant to your keywords is best practice in the SEO world. But, these images can also improve your CTR by increasing your visibility. That’s right, adding images to your posts will make you more likely to appear in featured snippets at the top of SERPs.
Better yet, if your audience is searching in the “Images” section of the search engine, the images from your post are more likely to appear and are, therefore, more likely to be clicked on.
8. Convert Your Content Into Code
If you want to be seen by your audience, you first need to be seen by search engines. While all of the above can help improve your CTR, it won’t be much use if you’re not ranking on the likes of Google and other SERPs.
With this in mind, it’s important that you implement structured data in order to change your content into code so that search engines can process it easily. This process will also make your content more likely to appear as a featured snippet. Featured snippets are more likely to be clicked on because they are more visually prominent, they include more information about your page, and they appear at the top of search engines.
And, this leads us to our next point…
9. Optimize for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets appear below the paid ads and above all other content on the first page of search engines. They appear as a box of content and provide users with significantly more information than other posts featured on the search engine page.
To optimize your content for featured snippets, it’s important that you do some competitor research. Here are some steps you can take:
- Do a search in your preferred search engine for the primary keyword you would like to rank for.
- Check if there is a featured snippet for this particular keyword.
- If so, clearly identify how the featured snippet is featuring the competitor’s content.
If you notice that the featured snippet is showing a numbered list, you should also write your post as a numbered list, or listicle. Alternatively, if the featured snippet features a question box with an answer, be sure to answer this specific question concisely in the first paragraph of your post to improve your chances of being featured.
10. Fix Cannibalization Issues
One of the biggest SEO issues that marketers and business owners face today is cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is when multiple pages rank for the same keywords. It may sound great on paper but, having multiple pages rank for the same keywords means that your organic clicks for one topic are spread across your site, thus affecting your authority and your rankings.
To fix this issue, identify which pages this could be happening with and try and focus each page or post on individual and separate groups of keywords. You may also find that you can merge content from lower-ranking pages with that of higher-ranking pages and then create a 301 redirect between these pages.
As you complete this scan of your content, identify where this may be occurring and consider consolidating or differentiating the keywords you are trying to rank for so that your CTR can be dedicated to one page instead of ten.
11. Use an SEO Optimization Plugin
SEO plugins are handy tools to use if you’re not well versed in the digital marketing realm. They can help you understand:
- How often to implement keywords
- How long your content should be
- How to write in an active voice for better engagement
- How to structure your content with the correct headings
- How many images you should include on your page
- Whether or not you should include more or less internal and external links
And, so much more…
12. Enhance Your Website’s Speed
If you offer your visitors a poor user experience, they will quickly click away from your site, thus affecting your bounce rate and, in turn, your organic CTR.
There are various tools that can tell you how fast your website is on both mobile and desktop. Once you know your site speed, you can improve by:
- Switching to another host
- Optimizing the size of the images on your pages and posts
- Reducing the number of plugins on your backend
- Using website caching
- Reducing the number of different fonts you use
- Addressing 404 errors on the website
13. Use Heatmaps
Want to know what makes your users tick? Heatmaps allow you to see how your web visitors interact with your website. These tools identify the areas on your website that your audience clicks on the most. Aside from telling you what your customers like about your website, it can also show you where they lose interest.
You may be wondering how this affects CTR, right?
The more time visitors spend on your site, the more search engines will think that your content is valuable, and the higher you will rank. And, we all know that the higher the ranking, the higher the chance of someone clicking on your page, and the higher the organic CTR.
Want More Tips on Optimizing Your Website for Increased Engagement?
As you can see, optimizing your website to improve your CTR has different facets. While CTR is not a direct ranking factor for the likes of Google and other search engines, your ranking will affect your CTR. Implementing the tips above will help you improve both your ranking and CTR so that you can increase your visitors and sales.
For more advice or if you’d like to ask a question, please contact our customer support team at [email protected].