There are many metrics that matter in SEO. So many there are people whose job role solely consists of gathering, analyzing and reporting on SEO data.
But the metrics don’t have equal importance. Some matter much more than others. If you landed on this page you’re probably wondering if click through rate (CTR) is one of the important metrics. Keep reading to find out.
Do Click Through Rates Affect SEO?
Although there’s been some debate over the years, the general consensus is that click through rate matters. It’s a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm (and basically all other search engines) for more than one reason. More on that below.
What is Click Through Rate in SEO?
Your click through rate in SEO is essentially a measure of how well you’re engaging with users that are searching for terms that are relevant to your website. To the search engines click through rate signals that the site’s web page was a good search result for whatever the user queried. At the very least, it was something that interested the user enough to click through to the page from the SERP.
The general theory is that Google uses click through rate as a ranking factor by giving pages with higher CTRs a higher ranking or maintaining their already high ranking. But if a page gets good ranking for a query yet almost no click throughs it suggests to Google that the page isn’t that relevant and should go down in the rankings or remain low.
How to Calculate Click Through Rate
Click through rate is a basic calculation. You take the number of times your search result was clicked and divide it by the number by times the result showed up in the SERPs for a specific query.
Clicks ÷ SERP Impressions for a Query = Click Through Rate
Calculating CTR is something that PPC advertisers know how to do very well. The only difference is they are dividing the number of clicks by the number of ad impressions.
You can also simply open the Google Search Console to review the search analytics data for your click through rate. No mathematics required.
How to Improve CTR for SEO Optimization
At this point the only thing left to cover is how to improve your click through rate. A good CTR is going to be different for just about every website depending on the industry or niche, target market and a number of other things. What is certain is that improving your click through rate is never a bad thing.
If your CTR seems low then you will definitely want to intervene and see if there are ways to get more users clicking. Here’s a quick hit list of things you can do.
Check out competitor search result tags. One thing click through rate can tell you is if your meta tags are resonating in the SERPs. The sites above you, in theory, should have a higher click through rate so emulate what they are doing with your meta title and meta description.
Focus on emotional hooks. Your meta tags are like ads for your organic search rankings. As such, you can benefit by using the tried and true marketing tactic of playing on people’s emotions. Fear and enjoyment are two of the strongest motivators.
Adjust titles so that they are a numbered list when possible. Numbered lists are click bait. This type of title can boost CTR by 36% according to Conductor.
Make your URLs descriptive. Users can also see the URL of the web page in the search results. Use that to your advantage by making the URL reflect what’s on the page.
Let’s start building your SEO plan.
Michael Ramirez is the Founder of SearchRPM, an Austin, TX based search marketing company that’s well-versed in Search Engine Optimization best practices. You can follow Michael Ramirez on Twitter @searchrpm to see what he’s up to next.