3 Steps to Increase Your Organic CTR
And make the most of your search engine rankings!
First, a funny but true fact: a lot of people in search marketing concentrate hard on the cores of SEO — getting quality backlinks, optimizing pages to perfection, and keeping up with the algorithm changes — all with the purpose of ranking higher. SEO is no easy job, and sometimes we get so caught in the work that we forget why we're chasing top rankings in the first place.
Well, here's a little reminder: your ultimate goal is not rankings, but the visits and sales that these rankings bring. And there's another important, frequently overlooked component that determines how many organic visits you get — your SERP snippet CTR, or, in other words, the number of searches that click on your link out of the total searchers that see it on the SERP.
Quite obviously, the CTR depends on how compelling and click-attractive your site looks in Google search results. An easy-to-understand example of how this works in the real life would be a Google search for 'hummus recipe':
The 4th listing is our absolute favorite — it has all the prerequisites for getting many more clicks than the first. The snippet includes an image, cooking time, social proof (aka Rating and Votes), and a call to action — what's not to love? And even though there's no way to find which of the listings get more clicks, we bet the 2nd and 4th are doing much better than the 1st and 3rd respectively.
So, let's dig deeper and see how you can improve your Google listing and get searchers to click on your page, hands down.
1. Find the low hanging fruit
To find the most rewarding areas for improvement you'll want to open the "Search Analytics" report in Google webmaster tools and select clicks, impressions, CTR, and position.
You're looking for keywords that have a big number of impressions but low CTR. Your listings for these terms have room for improvement and this improvement will pay off well.
2. Optimize your standard Google listing
A classic Google listing consists of a title, URL, and description. Each of these components can be optimized to increase click through rates; read on to find out how.
Title is perhaps the most important component for CTR. But title could also be the trickiest element to optimize, as besides writing titles for humans you need to keep in mind the huge importance of this element for your search engine rankings.
So, optimize title with caution, keeping SEO in mind.
Usually, Google takes the title right from your page's HTML. If your page does not have a title tag, or if Google believes it doesn't match the search query very well, it can come up with a title of its own for your listing.
1. Keep it short.
Not just because brevity is the soul of wit, but also because Google will cut your title off if it's longer than 512 pixels (that's about 55 characters). You can test different titles for your listing and see how they look in Google's SERPs here.
2. Keep it relevant.
Whenever possible, start your page title with the keyword you're targeting, or place thatkeyword as close to the beginning as you can — for two reasons.
First, the closer to the beginning your keyword is, the more relevant Google will consider your page to the query.
Second, studies show that searchers skimming through search results only read the first 20 characters of a listing on average, so it's a good idea to ensure that the search term is in those first 20 characters.
3. Keep it irresistible.
Depending on your niche and the type of keywords you're targeting, you'd want to use different techniques to make your title appealing to searchers:
- Use a strong call to action
Consider including strong verbs, strong unique selling propositions or promotional words;
- Use character savers
If you need to squeeze more text in the title you can replace word like "and" with the ampersand (&) symbol, "or" with the slash (/) or "copyright" with ©. Remember to implement special chars using HTML entities (& with & © with © etc.)
Test capitalizing the single most important word in the title. An entire title written with caps lock on will raise spam flags, so don't do it. Capitalizing each first letter of the word is acceptable.
SEO PowerSuite how-to:
Title is also one of the most important page elements SEO-wise, so, whenever you get down to rewriting your pages titles, make sure that they comply with the best SEO practices.
In SEO PowerSuite, you can use WebSite Auditor to easily audit page titles:
- Make sure every page on your website has a title
- Check if your titles fit the 55 characters limit
- Get rid of duplicate titles
- Avoid keyword stuffing
If some of the keywords are used more than once in your page's title, go to Keywords in title and check with the Keyword stuffing column to see if your page is at risk of appearing spammy to users and search engines.
- Check competitors titles for keyword usage best practices
If you haven't decided on the contents of your title tag yet, go to the Competitors tab in the Keywords in title section to see how your 10 top-ranking rivals optimize their titles — and maybe borrow some of their tried and tested tactics. In this tab, you'll see stats like keyword count, keyword density, and total word count in your competitors' titles, as well as the exact wording of their title tags. You'll also find competitor averages for these values, as well as the min and max total word count, keyword count and density among your rivals.
CTR-wise, URLs may not be the most important part of your Google listing; but there's still a bunch of easy tricks to make the overall appearance of your listing more appealing and better structured — by optimizing the URL.
1. Use clear, concise and descriptive URLs.
Try to keep your URLs short and to the point. Make sure they are readable, contain your keywords, and briefly describe the contents of your page.
2. Utilize breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs are a way Google displays a page's location in the site hierarchy instead of the URL — they come in especially handy for long URLs that contain several subfolders.
Here's an example from popsugar.com; instead of displaying the clumsy URL of the page with the recipe, they used breadcrumbs to make their snippet neater (and let the user know that the recipe is a healthy one in the meantime).
SEO PowerSuite how-to:
To check your URLs structure, switch to WebSite Auditor's site audit view, and check the URLs section. The software will point out:
- All dynamic, not user-friendly URL
- Too long URLs
Like with titles, Google usually displays the meta description from your page's HTML (as long as it's relevant to the search query).
The description in your snippet is the longest piece of text — so if you caught the searcher's attention with your title, you can really reinforce your statement (whatever it is) by using compelling copy in the description.
1. Be concise.
Google's maximum limit for the width of the description displayed on its results pages is 923 pixels — longer descriptions get truncated. Make sure your description is under 155 characters long, and remember to test it before you change it.
2. Be bold.
The best meta descriptions start with a verb and a strong call to action. Instead of simply describing your product or the contents of your page in the description, address the searcher and let them know about the benefits of navigating to your page, choosing your product or service, etc.
Are you running seasonal offers? Do you have a sale on? How about free delivery? You can even use icons to make your description more interesting.
SEO PowerSuite how-to:
For a meta-descriptions check, open Website Auditor's Site Audit module to:
- Make sure every page on your website has a description
- Check if your pages fit the 155 characters limit
- Get rid of duplicate descriptions
In Website Auditor's Content Optimization dashboard, check how your competitors utilize their meta description tags.
3. Make use of rich snippets
Once you've optimized the text of your Google listing, you will most probably see an improvement in CTR. It can be a tangible one, but probably not extraordinary.
Why? Classic Google listings (even the ones with great copy) all look the same. But if you're willing to take it one step further, one great thing you could do is use structured data markup to enable rich snippets.
Google's rich snippets can include images, ratings, and other industry-specific pieces of data in addition to the classic title, URL, and description.
Rich snippets can be used for different kinds of content, such as products, recipes, reviews, and events. Depending on the type, you can add several niche-specific rich snippet elements, such as cooking time and nutritional information for recipes. You can always preview your snippets by copying and pasting your page's source code into Google's Testing Tool.
If you are a product merchant, you can use rich snippets to provide extra product info, such as the item's rating, price and availability.
Marking up your recipe content with structured data lets you add images, reviewer ratings, cooking and preparation time, and nutrition information.
Rich snippets for reviews may include the review rating, review author and date published.
Event markup describes the details of your events (concerts, art festivals, etc.). This type of rich snippets lets you include the event date, location and offer to buy tickets for this even.
And your rankings grow together with your CTR!
Multiple studies show that clicks in search results have a direct impact on rankings. Simply put, the more clicks and the bigger your CTR, the higher you rank.
So before diving deeper into your SEO campaign, do make sure that you’re squeezing maximum juice from the rankings you already have, and nurture them to grow with the time, using these easy but often neglected techniques:
1 Find the keywords you’re ranking well for but have low CTR
Use "Search Analytics" report in Google Webmaster Tools
2 Optimize the key snippet elements
Use SEO PowerSuite's WebSite Auditor to make sure they're 100% SEO-friendly
3 Use rich snippets to make your listing stand out in search results
Use Google's guidelines and this guide
Thus while you're optimizing your Google listings to get more clicks (hence visitors, hence happy customers), an actual ranking growth can be a nice by-product.
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