CTR (Click Through Rate) is one of the most underutilized traffic as well as ranking factors when it comes to SEO.
Most people target achieving high SERP results, but they keep themselves oblivious of the fact that you don’t get traffic for being at #1 or #2 position on Google, you get traffic only if the users click on the link and land on your website.
In fact, it’s common to have less traffic than the website just below you despite you having a higher SERP position, the reason? Your page meta title isn’t “CTR Optimized”!
CTR Optimization: What is it & why you need it?
Put it most simply, we can say that “CTR” optimization is “Optimizing your search results for Humans”.
Good “Search Engine Optimization” will get you ranked, but only good CTR optimization can get your pages “clicked” in search engines.
Before pulling in some practical examples on CTR optimization, you need to know how it “directly” affects your ranking.
Google takes CTR as a “quality” metric, meaning if you’re ranking #5 for a certain keyword, while your competitor is on #6 or even #9, but if they manage to get more “Clicks” from users that tell Google that their content is somehow better than yours, chances are they’re boosted up while you’re pushed down.
Having said that, let me also make it clear that “It’s not an absolute metric”.
Meaning, just because you have low CTR doesn’t mean you’ll be definitely pushed down the SERP chart, and it’s something that can be highly manipulated so even though it affects your rankings, it’s not as authoritative as backlinks or content quality.
10 Tips to Boost CTR Rates for Search Results:
Show “Last Updated” Dates
Google and users alike prefer fresh content, and it’s important to boldly state that your content is better and fresher than the one on top or below your result.
Another reason is, the human brain tends to click more on the results which have a “last updated” date on their search results, compared to the ones which don’t.
Here’s a live example:
Which one would you like to read as a visitor? I’m sure it would be the one published and updated in 2017, rather than the one which has been had been stale since its publication in 2015!
Use Dates and Time in Headlines.
The above example shows Google automatically pulling the date from your schema, but what you can do manually is include dates in your blog headlines as well.
For e.g. “10 SEO Tactics for 2017” has a much better chance of getting clicked than “10 SEO Tactics”. Isn’t that right?
As the above screenshot might well illustrate, it’s a definitive statement for the readers that whatever you’re discussing in your blog post is in sync with the current time.
Clearly, you’ll have an advantage over the blog posts which either do not show a date or show an outdated one.
Use A Magnetic Title With Numbers
It’s not just about “dates”, using any other kind of “numbers” or “data” in your headlines has a proven track record of boosting your CTR rates as well, here’s a graph to illustrate things better.
It’s just a psychological factor that “Ways to make money” won’t grab as many eyeballs as “13 ways to make money”.
Using numbers tells the users that they will be exposed to a certain number of solutions to their problem, which works in your favor especially when your competitors’ results are void of such details.
It’s a good practice to place them at the beginning of your headline, or as close to the first word as possible.
These come in handy when you’re reviewing a tool or product. They not only make your search result stand out on Google but also give an overview of the final ratings for the product to the visitor right there on the search engine.
In the above example, even though all the results from our own blog, we feel compelled to click on the second result and not the first, just because it stands out and looks legit and boosts your page CTR in Google search results.
You might have done it from the SEO perspective, well there’s the CTR angle to it as well. Here are some tips you can cash-in right now:
- Keep it Short
- Keep it descriptive.
In short, your URL should be enough to paint a picture for your visitors as well as the search engines in regards to what exactly your post is about.
The URL structure used by Brian Dean on Backlinko is much better than the one used by Neil or Moz and that’s the secret recipe to skyrocketing your CTR rates. Though it’s not a definite indicator of SEO, it seems good and might deliver your page high click-throughs.
These are “Footprints” which tell the visitors where exactly any specific page is located, and the “path” to reach there.
For e.g. instead of having an URL like www.yoursite.com/cateogry123/article24, you’ll get much better results with something like www.yoursite.com/fitness/male/weightloss.
Here is an example to explain the point better:
This is the next-level, ultimate CTR booster. Google started showing featured snippets for queries recently, and the best part is you don’t need to rank #1 in order to get your snippet featured.
According to a study from SearchEngineLand, a featured snippet generally gets 8.6% CTR of total searches, which is H-U-G-E considering you aren’t even actually “ranking” at the #1 position for that keyword.
Even if getting your snippet featured isn’t a walk in the park, the hard work is totally worth it.
Descriptive Meta Description
The Meta description is the short paragraph which appears just below the search result links to describe what the links are about.
People read those short excerpts before actually reading the whole post on your blogs. So you need to make sure the meta description is:
- No longer than 160 characters.
- Descriptive, yet not keyword stuffed.
- As definitive and to the point as possible.
- Try to indicate “why” the visitors should read your blog post, or what they will gain from it.
You can use Yoast SEO Plugin to set the meta descriptions for your individual blog posts. Here’s an example of a good Meta description:
Give your readers a reason to read your articles. There are millions of search results on Google singing the same old song over and over again.
In order to get clicked, you’ve to offer something (or at least pretend) that your content is better and different than the others.
You can use “catchy words”, these are words which act as “brain-hitters” and take your readers by surprise.
Something like “10 SEO tactics the Gurus won’t share with you”. Or “11 Mistakes you’re already making”.
Basically, anything that isn’t conventional and provides that sense of immense value is bound to get you clicked.
Our brains tend to stick a tad bit longer with words like “Don’t”, “No”, “Never” etc. That’s exactly what you should be leveraging to shoot your CTR rates through the roof.
There’s no rocket-science to it, simply start your headlines with those negative words which should be enough to get your readers to read through at least the complete headline and meta description.
And if you’ve done good work on those two aspects, no clicks are going waste! Here are some live examples:
Wrapping it Up:
So those were some of the basic, yet effective ways you could pour in on your next blog posts and see the traffic rolling in.
No “one” strategy or formulae guarantee you success, but when all the above-mentioned ingredients are mixed in the recipe, that’s when the real magic happens.
Although we’re more than open to suggestions and ideas you might have on the topic, or maybe you’ve got your own case-study to share?
We would love to go through it and share it here with proper credits. In the very least, we would love to hear your feedback on this piece, so hit the comment box hard, it’s all yours.
I am eager to know how you increase your page click-through rates in Google search?