The SEO Impact of Click-Through Rate

Another Variable in the SEO Game:

Backlinks, social signals, on-page, website speed. There is a wide myriad of factors and there is enough evidence to believe that CTR (click-through rate) is yet another one in the list.

How important is it?

What is the evidence?

Can you optimize it to rank higher?

Chances are that you are asking yourself all of this right now, and it is perfectly normal, because we all want to rank higher, and if CTR can give you an extra edge, then why not?

We will show you the evidence, explain you how important it is and how a better CTR can improve your rankings.

Here at SEO Heroes we work to bring you the best rankings, and here you will learn why we pay attention to the organic CTR, and also see how we work to improve it.

Without any further delay, let’s get into it.

Why Is It a Ranking Factor? Why Is It Important?

It is time to talk about facts and evidence, because without them, this article would not have a reason to exist. Let’s get into it.

First, we should take a look to what Google has to say about Google Ads (formerly Adwords). From that page, we can extract the following:

“A high CTR is a good indication that users find your ads helpful and relevant.”

What if we replace ads with organic results? There you have it!

It is one of the metrics used by Google to measure quality. After all, their goal is to serve searchers with the best information at disposal, and they are relying on CTR to filter results even more, along with other ranking factors.

Google is evolving constantly and getting smarter in order to offer users a better experience. It would be a mistake to rely solely on optimizing CTR, but if you are already ranking within the top 10, then it makes a lot of sense to focus on this variable.

Therefore, it is better to focus on optimizing your organic CTR when you are already ranking and you need to move ahead your competitors on the first page. We all know that it gets harder from there, and hence, trying as many things as possible becomes a wise idea, and optimizing your CTR is one of the best strategies that you can implement.

There is more evidence that supports the fact that click-through rate is a ranking factor, and all you have to do is to check this Slideshare presentation about how Google works.

Google to slide #30 and you will get an interpretation on live experiments. Read it; analyze it for a couple of minutes and it will become very clear that Google uses CTR as a ranking factor. No room for doubt here.

For more evidence, you should check what Moz has to say about this matter. They found the following:

  • Pass the expected CTR for a determined ranking by 20% and chances are you will occupy position #1
  • Pass the expected CTR for a determined ranking by 12% and chances are you will occupy position #2
  • Fall below the expected CTR for a determined ranking by 6% and chances are you will occupy position #10.

As Moz points out, you should follow this simple yet powerful rule:

The more your pages surpass the expected CTR for a determined ranking, the higher your chances of occupying prominent organic positions in the SERPs.

At this point, it should be more than clear why it is so important, and as you know the evidence, we have answered the first two questions.

What about organic CTR optimization? How can I do it to increase my rankings?

You already know the power of this, because if you are already ranking for keywords within the top 10, then you need an extra push, and that is what CTR optimization is for. Let’s look into it.

How Can You Improve Your Organic CTR to Rank Higher?

You already bought into the idea that improving your organic click-through rate will make you rank higher, because as you have seen, it tells Google that your content is awesome, and therefore, it would be ideal to show for searchers.

Relevance and Content:

If you want users to click on your page, then you need to make sure that the content is relevant for the keyword you are trying to rank for. As simple as that.

As a general rule of thumb, check what your competitors are doing on the SERPs, replicate it and improve it.

Create An Attractive Title:

If you want people to lick on your page, then your title needs to be attractive, it needs to invite them to visit your website, and that is where copywriting comes into play.

Simply put, you need to grab their attention and motivate them to click through. As simple as that, but of course, it sounds easy in theory, but if you want optimal results, then you will have to test different titles and find the winner.

Create A Catchy Description:

After coming up with a winning title, you also need to play around with your description. Unlike the title, you have more space and characters to work with, so use them smartly. Ideally, you need to share the benefit of clicking through, but at the same time, you need to reserve some mystery and intrigue.

Also, don’t forget about including a clear and concise CTA (call to action). You need to tell people what to do, so be as transparent and direct as possible. It will pay off.

Like the title, you will have to test different description variations before you come up with a winner, but it will be worth it, because a higher CTR will not only improve your rankings, but also give you a better ROI, because you will get more visitors, and therefore, more chances of turning them into clients. Powerful and profitable.

Sitelinks for the Win:

Even though you cannot directly make Google to show sitelinks for your site, you can structure your page properly to increase the chances. Furthermore, the more Google “likes” your site, the higher the possibilities for your site to show sitelinks on the SERPs.

You can tell Google what sitelinks not to show on the SERPs, and all you have to do is to:

  • Go to “Search Appearance”
  • Select “Sitelinks”
  • Demote the links you do not want to show on the organic page results.

That’s all.

Take Advantage of Rich Snippets:

This will make your page a lot more notorious on the SERPs, because you can add review stars, display photos of products, their price and more. You can take huge advantage out of this, so start structuring your data properly, because this will boost your CTR for sure, you can bet on it.

Some Important Clarifications

Now you know what you have to do increase your CTR, however, there are some important points to clarify, like everything in life. Make sure to read them, because they are essential for applying this information in the most optimal way possible.

You Must Test, Track and Optimize:

Chances are you will not hit a homerun in your first try. That is why it is important to test, track your result and optimize as you go. It is not any different to conversion rate optimization, where you test different versions, track the results and pick a winner. Google Analytics is your best friend in this work. Make sure to write down every change in GA, so you can track it and see how it performs against the other versions of your description and title. Make sure to brainstorm different variations, so you can make a meaningful comparison that brings you solid data. You will have to repeat this process several times, but it will be worth it, because you will end up with a description and title that attract tons of clicks, something that can catapult you to the top-3 in no time, and who knows, maybe place you in the position #1 for your keyword.

It Can Backfire:

If users come to your site and the content is poorly-written, not relevant at all and does not provide the answers/solutions that users are looking for, then your bounce rate will be high, because they will be disappointed with your page. Google will notice it and punish you for it.

Before you start optimizing your page for increasing your organic CTR, you should pay attention to the UX you are providing, because if it is not optimal, then this should be your main objective, because you do not want your users to leave disappointed. It will kill your sales and rankings, take it for granted.

If you increase your organic CTR and you provide a better UX – meaning that the users spend more time browsing your site and navigating through it – then you will obtain amazing results. That is guaranteed, because it will be a very strong signal of great quality for Google.

Make sure to take this into account, because otherwise, it will be backfire big time. Ensure that your pages are WORTHY of ranking on the first page of Google, and even better, make sure that they deserve to rank better than your competitors. Aim for the sky!

Don’t Exclude Other Factors:

It is tempting to think that optimizing your organic CTR is the solution for all of your problems, but sadly, it is not. In the SEO game you will never have absolute certainty on anything, and even though it could work, it could also do the contrary.

If you are stuck, then there are many other reasons:

  1. You do not have enough authority
  2. Your UX is not optimal, and therefore, Google does not think that you deserve to rank higher. Another big reminder on why delivering an exceptional experience to your users is a must
  3. You need more backlinks
  4. Your anchor text is over-optimized or does not fall within the expectations for the niche/keyword. This is another big reminder to check out what your competitors are doing, because this data allows you to see what works for that specific niche/keyword
  5. You do not have enough local or niche relevance, and therefore, Google is not allowing you to rank. This scenario is fairly common, even if you do have tons of high-quality backlinks and social proof. However, this is an on-page problem rather than off-page
  6. Your on-page needs some extra work (compare it to the top-5 and see what you are missing).

There are many reasons, as you can see, and your CTR is not the only one. It can be what is missing to climb higher, but do not exclude the other factors, because it will do you no good.

To the contrary, you should try to work on several aspects once you have recognized the problems that your pages are facing. That is how you should treat SEO, as a multi-faceted matter instead of a one-dimensional thing.

Final Thoughts:

A very interesting topic, isn’t it?

There are always new things to learn in the game of SEO, and now you have a new angle to try. If you have tried everything and cannot figure out why you are not ranking, then this might be the solution that your page needs.

If you have any question or doubt, feel free to comment it below or to reach out to us. We will be more than happy to write back to you and explain what you need to know!

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