The Ultimate Guide to Monitoring and Increasing Your CTR
Does your organic CTR (click-through rate) impact your page rankings on Google? This has been debated for years within the SEO industry.
Some people think that the influence of CTR on rankings is just a persistent myth, but there are those that are convinced Google looks at end user data. After all, how would the search engine know which pages to rank without it?
Google, or at least a Google engineer, confirmed that they use CTR to figure out the type of results users want to see. So if a page is ranking in position 5, but gets a higher CTR than the page in position 3, Google may decide to rank that page higher, seeing as more people are interested in that result.
However, whether you choose to believe in the concept or not, at the end of the day, organic CTR is still important. Higher click-through rate means more traffic, and more traffic can lead to more conversions and sales for your business. For instance, even without higher rankings, if you increase your CTR from 5% to 10%, you just doubled your traffic.
If organic CTR is such an important measure of success for your SEO strategy, it only makes sense to monitor it constantly and increase it gradually.
How to Monitor Your CTR
Google Search Console is a tool that lets you analyze clicks from Google search, test whether Google understands your content, and receive alerts about errors. You can do all these by simply inputting your site’s URL in the Performance Report tab. The Performance Report shows valuable metrics about your site’s performance in Google search results. For instance: average position in search results, how often it comes up in search results, and click through rate.
By tracking down the aspects of your site that need improvement, you’ll be able to squeeze more traffic out of every URL you have listed in Google.
Here’s how to monitor your CTR results within Google Search Console:
- Open Google Search Console.
- Select or input the website you want to monitor, and then click on “Search Traffic” in the left-hand sidebar.
- From the drop-down menu, click on “Search Analytics.”
- A chart will appear but it won’t show you your CTR data yet. To view your CTR numbers, click the “CTR” checkbox at the top of the page.
- Your CTR figures will now be displayed in the bottom right corner. The report lists search queries with their corresponding CTRs, sorted by search popularity.
Click-through rates are measured this way: click count divided by the amount of impressions. If a certain page does not have any impressions, the CTR will be shown as a dash (-) as CTR would be divided by zero.
Take note: any CTR below 3% is underperforming. If you have pages that have a click-through rate of 3% and below, those are the ones you’ll want to improve.
How to Increase CTR
If we’re going to talk about the most effective way to increase your pages’ CTRs, there’s really just one answer: it’s all about improving your meta descriptions.
Since the early days of SEO, meta descriptions have played an important role getting users to click on your link. After all, a well-crafted meta description is likely to interest users, so 160 characters can be the determining factor between gaining a lead or seeing it move on to a competitor.
However, over the years, things have changed a lot. In the beginning, a typical search result only included a title, a URL link, and a brief description. Today, we see paid ads, “People also ask” questions, and plenty of rich snippets. You’ll need these rich snippets in your meta descriptions if you want to increase your CTR.
Rich snippets, as the name suggests, are search results that go beyond the basics. Using a structured data markup (we’ll delve more into that later) added to your site HTML, you provide search engines with more valuable information so they better understand the intent and content of each page.
Google then presents these extra details as rich snippets that appear under the URL on your result listing. Rich snippets may include additional information about your contact details, pricing, open hours, location, product availability, reviews, star-rating, and more.
The Importance of Rich Snippets
How then do rich snippets increase your CTR?
Well, users can immediately see whether your site’s content answers their questions or needs. There’s no more guesswork on their end. The more information you have in your result listing, the more likely you’ll get that crucial click.
Including a star-rating, price range, availability, or any relevant information simply makes your listing pop out. If all the other results only have the standard title-URL-description format, there’s no real differentiation yet.
But if yours is the only listing with a 4.6 rating, it automatically draws the reader’s eye. It stands out from the rest of the page and at this point, it’s all about grabbing more attention than the listings above and below you.
Moreover, if one result has a 3.9 rating and another has a 4.7 rating, which one will users click? If one listing has a price of $250 for a certain product in their rich snippet, and the one below it has a price of $320 for the same product in theirs, which one will an interested buyer check out first?
We all know the answers to those questions.
Rich snippets will get your foot in the virtual door. Of course, you’ll need to back up your rich snippets with great products and value-adding content but at this stage of your digital marketing journey, it’s all about making that first impression count and getting that click.
And then you’ll make the conversion.
How do I get rich snippets?
There are several ways you can set your site up for success when it comes to rich snippets, but the schema markup is the most effective and most popular of them all.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic button that you can press to turn rich snippets on. You’ll have to put in some work and there’s no guarantee that search engines will use them.
Fortunately, you can ask for a bit of help from a friend: schema.org.
According to its website, schema.org provides webmasters with a collection of shared vocabularies that they can use to markup their pages in ways that will be understood by Google. Basically, schema provides the code and words necessary to instruct search engines that you want to highlight or feature these specific pieces of information on the search results.
The schema markup includes:
- Item scope – specifies that the HTML is about a specific item),
- Item type – what type of item it is
- Item prop – the specific property such as URL, price, review, and so on)
The available properties differ depending on the type. Types include creative works (films, books, music, recipes), organizations, events, person, restaurant, product, local business, offer, review, and action.
Fortunately, there are plenty of convenient tools that will help you create, implement, and test the schema markup. If you built your website on WordPress, there are plug-ins dedicated to the schema markup.
Other Ways to Increase CTR
Aside from rich snippets, there are other ways to increase your CTR. Here are our other recommendations.
1. Support product pages with informational content to earn a featured snippet
If you’ve ever searched for any question, like a “how to bake a cake,” then you’ve likely seen a featured snippet. Featured snippets pull the most relevant content from a linked page, providing users with the answers they need without having to navigate away from the Google search results page.
Featured snippets have also pretty much supplanted the traditional #1 spot as the most desirable and most profitable area on the search results. As they appear directly below the search query box and above the #1 spot, they receive the most traffic.
If you want to increase your CTR, you’re going to have to land that featured snippet spot. You can do these in three ways:
- Include questions with keywords in an H2 subheading and have a paragraph below it that succinctly answers the search query.
- Add summarized versions of your listicles at the start of your post. Make sure each subheading has clear content hierarchy.
- Optimize for table featured snippets that show up as a summary collection of results from specific data sets: lists, dates, prices, etc.
2. Avoid exits that are detrimental to CTR
If a user arrives at your page but quickly exits due to pop-ups and other intrusive interstitials, then that will negatively impact your CTR.
According to Google Webmasters, pages that contain intrusive or distracting interstitials provide a poorer experience to users compared to pages where content is accessible immediately. This is especially problematic for mobile users, whose devices have smaller screens.
As much as possible, avoid having these types of interstitials that make content less accessible to users:
- Pop-ups that hide the main content, either immediately after a user arrives on the page, or while they’re browsing through the page
- Stand-alone interstitials that users have to dismiss before they can access the main content
- Layouts where the page’s above-the-fold portion appears similar to standalone interstitials, but you have inlined the original content below the fold
Examples of interstitials that will not likely affect user accessibility when used responsibly include cookie usage, age verification, login dialogs for private content, and banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.
Start Increasing Your CTR Today
If you have high rankings in the SERPs, that’s great! But even the top positions don’t guarantee visits to your site. What really matters is that people are clicking on your listing and not exiting or bouncing back immediately. You want to attract visitors who will stick around and eventually convert.
Moving forward, spend more time and effort into your meta descriptions and earning those rich and featured snippets. The more ways you find to improve your content and meta data, the better they appear to users, and the more clicks you get. The more clicks you get, the higher your ROI becomes.
If you have any more questions, feel free to contact Truelogic today.