SEO Masterclass Pt 2: How to Improve Your Organic Click Through Rate
| January 2nd 2019
Last month we started to take a look at the subject of SEO in 2019, following our attendance at BrightonSEO last October. One of the biggest drivers of search strategies for the year ahead that we delved into was Dwell Time: the amount of time someone spends on a web page. Google’s artificial intelligence tool RankBrain uses it as one of its two key areas of focus when sorting search results, so it’s pretty important. The other one is click through rate, and that’s what we’re going to get to grips with in this post.
Why is click through rate important?
Imagine you’ve done all that hard work to get your web pages right up there in the rankings. Top positions are yours. Great job. But are they being clicked on? Brilliant search engine rankings don’t necessarily equate to visits to your web pages. The thing that really matters is not where you rank, but how many people are clicking on your listings. In other words, your return on investment depends on your click through rate.
Click through rate (CTR) is a major player in RankBrain, but that’s not the only reason why you need to put serious effort into improving it.
Click through rates on mobile search have been dropping since 2015. This is because people expect to see the answers they want without clicking. And they are getting them. Remember we talked about Google Position Zero and Featured Snippets? Google is now putting the answers to users’ questions right there in front of their faces, without any need to click. Adverts, carousels and answer boxes are taking over organic results. This means YOUR search result – its title and its description – HAS to have enough pizazz about it to encourage clicks.
How to improve click through rate? Check out these 5 core strategies…
So it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. How to boost your CTRs, long term? Take a look at these five core CTR boosting strategies.
1. Entice with alluring headlines
You know your SEO keywords have to go into your headlines, but don’t over-focus on them. Yes you need to optimise your title tags, but go the extra mile and blend your keywords with a splash of emotive content. Anything that sparks joy, surprise, inspiration, laughter, curiosity or even fear or anger will have a far greater chance of triggering a click than a bland string of words. E-motivating your headlines is a massively powerful way of improving CTR. Some examples of emotional words known to hook people are:
Funny – Hilarious – Inspirational – Surprising
Astonishing – Staggering – Unusual – Vital
Best – Kindest – Ingenious
Outrageous – Unexpected
Disgusting – Unhappy – Angry – Shocking
We’ll take a deeper dive into headline writing in a future post, as it’s a topic that really merits its own focus. But suffice to say for now, make your headlines emotional and you’ll stand a far greater chance of your listings being clicked on.
2. Tell people what they’re going to get
Explaining what your clicked-through result is going to deliver is a hugely effective lure. People know what they are looking for, so if they can see you’re going to deliver it once they’ve clicked then you’ve got them hooked.
So use your title and description to set out what’s on the other end of the click. Is it an image, an infographic or a video? Is it a whitepaper? A chart or a list? Research results? A quote? A guide? Whatever it is, lay it on the line, and NEVER fail to deliver. This is absolutely essential, because click bait that’s deceitful will have the opposite effect on your CTR and overall rankings.
IMPORTANT ADVICE: ALWAYS write a custom description for your link. NEVER leave it to Google to pull sentences from your content, because they are unlikely to flow and compel clicks.
3. Use descriptive URLs
Like your headlines and descriptions, the URL leading to your content needs attention too. Be sure to include keywords, and make it descriptive. Microsoft research reveals that descriptive URLs are 25 per cent better at prompting a click-through than generic ones. Imagine netting 25 per cent more traffic!
A great tip with URLs is to use categories and sub categories in your links. This shows people that there’s more on offer than just the single thing they’ve been looking for.
4. Focus on format
Headlines or descriptions that cut off mid-way through enticing people to click are major fails. There are tools you can use to check how your link content will appear in the search engines. Try All-in-One SEO Pack or Yoast, both of which guide you as to character limits and provide a preview of your link content, including headline, description and URL.
5. Remarket your content
A strategy that’s often overlooked in CTR boosting is remarketing. Using the likes of the Google Display Network and Facebook, you have a golden opportunity to re-present your content via adverts to people who’ve already shown an interest in it.
Research shows that people who are familiar with a brand are twice as likely to click on ads and convert. Enhanced brand engagement also has a positive effect on Dwell Time. So it’s well worth including remarketing in your organic SEO company.