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What is a “Click-through Rate?”
Put simply, this is the number of people who click on your search engine result and then land on your web page, landing page or advertisement.
The click-through rate is the life blood of your website. If your page doesn’t rank high enough in the search engines, no one is going to see it. Therefore, no one can click on it.
Think about it, how often do you actually type out a web address in the address bar in your browser? Aside from a handful of well-known sites like Google, eBay or Facebook most will be visited via a search through Google. A click here means, as you’d expect, a click on a link taking someone to a website. The click-through rate is how often a link is clicked on compared to how many times the link appears in search rankings.
For instance, if the link to your site appears in Google’s search results 100 times and those doing the searching then go on to click it 50 times then you’d have a click-through rate of 50%.
There are more than 200 ranking factors that determine your search engine results. The top two factors are:
- Highly relevant, high quality and quantity content
- High-quality backlinks
The following very influential elements are on the short list of most important search engine ranking factors:
- Clicks and click-through rate
- Bounce rate or time spent on your page
What you’ll learn in this article
- What a clickthrough rate is
- Why a high click-through rate is important
- The elements responsible for achieving high search engine rankings
- How to create a compelling results headline
- How to improve your clickthrough rate
When you’ve finished reading this article you’ll have actionable steps to improve your clickthrough rate and your search engine ranking results.
What’s a search query?
You’re kidding me?? Ok, ayeayayyy… for anyone who’s been in a coma for the last 22 years, a search query is the words typed into a search engine used to find whatever it is you’re searching for… For instance, “Seattle coffee shops” would be a search query for finding coffee shops in Seattle.
As soon as a visitor lands on your site the clock starts ticking (from Google’s perspective) and the longer they stay on your site the more Google likes it. They particularly like sites where visitors have jumped to multiple pages, rather than just leave after looking at one page.
Long Tail versus High Search Keywords (Head Keywords)
If you’re reading this, you’ll know what a keyword is. If you don’t, then, well a keyword is a… keyword used to identity the subject matter of an article, webpage or site.
Now here, like elsewhere in life, the longer the better. Meaning if there’s a phrase that people use when searching in Google, your site will rank higher than the others if it matches the whole phrase, known as a long-tail keyword, rather than just some of the words in it.
For example, if you own a fish restaurant in Toronto that serves Icelandic sea bass then you should (should being the operative word, meaning your SEO guy or gal has optimized your site properly) show up higher in searches for “Toronto restaurants Icelandic sea bass”, than say:
- Restaurants that haven’t optimized their website for this term
- Restaurants that aren’t conducting off-site search engine optimization for this long-tail keyword phrase
- Restaurants that serve other types of fish
- Restaurants that aren’t in Toronto.
One way of thinking of long-tail keywords is that they help the searcher to be specific. This results in fewer, more specific results that are also more specifically niched.
Head or high search keywords are the popular keywords used in searches that produce a high search volume. Piggy backing our previous example, the singular keyword “restaurants,” would will have a lot more results than the long-tail example of the restaurant serving sea bass. Most of those results would not be what your customer is looking for at all.
Prior to the 21st century, man’s greatest concern was trying to determine what women want. Having long since abandoned this futile quest, today SEO professionals have turned to the task of determining just what it is that Google wants.
Well, Google appears to be somehow fickle in this area as its ‘wants’ seem to keep changing.
Wait… a better term here would be evolving – and for the better.
If we’re honest, the internet was – and is – littered with garbage content. Google (and she must be given credit here) designated itself the web’s janitor and moved to declutter its top ranking of garbage.
Think about it… someone good at SEO could position a website near the top of Google’s rankings for any subject and thus position themselves an ‘expert’ in that field. In the worst case, this opens the door to an SEO-savvy professional giving… say… legal advice or, worse still, medical advice simply from reading a few Wikipedia articles then regurgitating them in a keyword-rich splurge on a heavily SEO’d website.
While this is sort of a stretch… I think you’ll agree we don’t want business to be able to game the system.
When we search for something, we want highly-relevant, legitimate, helpful, high-quality results on the first page.
End the end, that is Google’s job. That’s their sole mission. That’s what Google really wants.
We’ve learned that, among the hundreds of search engine ranking factors, Google’s top 3 are links, content and RankBrain. All the intelligence tells us that it is impossible to optimize for RankBrain – right now, any way!
If your intention is to get people to your party (your website), then you need to get them to read your invitation (which means to click on your page result in the search engine results).
How to increase Organic Clickthroughs (CTRs)
So you’re probably wondering what it is that you can actually do to improve your CTRs? Firstly, you need to work on your site’s weak areas, which means identifying pages with low organic quality scores and then work diligently to optimize them. To identify your low-scoring pages, download your search analytics data from the Google Search Console. Then on an Excel or other spreadsheet plot Organic Search CTR vs. Organic Ranking then apply an exponential average curve. Now your weak pages are going to be the ones falling below the black line.
Pump it up!
Start by purging your weak pages of any keyword-heavy title template formats – the type of pages that scream they’ve’ been built around SEO rather than quality, engaging content. Then you want to play on people’s emotions. Yes, you do! Carefully selected emotional trigger words will get people clicking like crazy on your links. What you’re after here is basically (not crappy) click bait. Yes, those link titles that make you want to click (even if you know better). One emotion – of many – that you could chose is fear. Now let’s compare an SEO-tailored title to an emotional one. An emotional title will increase engagement rates.
Review your content and make sure your content and title align and that it is compelling. Pages that consistently get page one search engine rankings have between 2,000 and 2,200 words. When you do this well, you’ll enjoy increased engagement rates.
With your new title and high-quality, abundant and relevant content checked off, it is time to begin running or increasing your social ads and remarketing campaigns to increase search volume and CTRs.
Improve Your Headlines – Think Hollywood!
Hollywood loves a hero and a villain in its movies and you should think along these lines when writing your content. You want visitors to relate to you. So who are you going to be? Write your headline from one of these 4 personas:
- The Hero or Bad Guy
- The Comedian
- The Encourager
- The Messenger of Bad News
Google and your visitor loves lists so be sure to use bullet-pointed and numbered lists; research has found that the latter can boost click-through rates by up to 36%.
Murdoch your headlines!
By that we mean Rupert, not the lovable wacky pilot from the A-Team. Newspaper owners and editors have always known that a strong, attention-grabbing headline sells papers and you should think the same way about your headlines.
Now let’s break this down a bit. A solid, winning headline strategy has four basic elements:
- Emotional hook
- Content type
1. Headline Format
Your headline could be:
- List oriented (7 Tips to…),
- Quiz related
- Introducing an infographic
- Facts oriented
- Strategy related
- Call to Action words
2. Emotional Hook
Now for your emotional hook you want to use power words – words that really get the emotional juices flowing. These could be:
Here are a couple of examples of powerful headlines:
- Increase Traffic and Conversions – 10 Hacks Breathe Life to Your Lonely Site!
- 7 Simple Formulas to Get Buyers to Your Site
3. Content Type
You also want your page to grab the visitor’s attention when they’re not even reading the article yet. What do I mean by that? Include engaging, scannable content the catch the eye when they’re giving your page an initial quick once over. Include lots of the following:
- Real life images
- Relevant quotes
- Real-life photos
Important here is to use real-life photos. You remember those don’t you? The ones people used to actually take themselves before switching to today’s overuse of bland happy-smiley-multi-racial-the-world-is-perfect stock photos. If your photos look real life, then visitors will be more likely to believe that there are real people behind your site, working on your business and more likely to engage with you.
Be sure to use precise keywords to describe your content. Your content should be clear, relevant, high-value, high-impact. It should be easy to read and understand.
Your subject should be spelled out in your emotionally engaging, keyword-leading, descriptive headline.
Visitors also respond well to headlines that tell them subject matter is related to:
For your headline you want to sit down, put the grey matter to work and develop a provoking subject phrase for your headline. Use words such as:
Don’t forget the URL. Descriptive URLs will perform much better for your search engine results and CRT than generic URLs. So create a descriptive URL that contains keywords. Compare these two URLs:
I probably don’t need to point out which is better. Two pointers to add here: keep the URL text short and relevant and remove stop words.
Stop words (I can hear you thinking) are those words that add nothing to the description, such as: a, and, the, etc.
Get Your Testing On!
The first way to test your headline is to use it on Google AdWords. Also use other types of paid ads and posts such as on Facebook and Twitter.
What’s is it that’s hurting your search engine rankings? Well, these are some SEO basic best practices. If you’re not employing them on your site, you might want to do it soon.
- Use a single domain and subdomain
- Make it as readable for humans as possible
- Add keywords to URLs
- Canonicalize multiple URLs leading to the same or similar content
- Exclude dynamic parameters whenever possible
- Shorter URLs are better than longer
- Match URLs to titles
- Leave out stop words
- Fewer folders the better
- Leave out awkward punctuation marks
- Don’t use hashes in URLs
- Be wary of case sensitivity in URLs
- Use hyphens and underscores to separate words
- Avoid keyword stuffing – it just looks spammy!
A comprehensive website and SEO analysis will tell you exactly what obstacles exist between high search engine rankings and higher click through rates. A comprehensive analysis can cost you from $350 to $1,500.
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