Don't Do It Yourself

How to Dramatically Increase your CTR in Google Organic Search Results

Why worry about increasing your click through rate (or CTR)?  Because having a top search ranking does not automatically mean the most traffic.

You need people to click on your search results to actually reach your website.  Sometimes the #2 or #3 spot can actually deliver more traffic to a site than #1.

Here are a few easy changes that could have a dramatic impact on the number of click throughs from your ranked keywords.

Tips to Increase CTR

  • Add rich snippets to your posts. These are small samples of content that often get picked up by Google.  Here are a few types of rich snippets and how they appear in search results.  Notice that each one draws attention to the result which makes a user much more likely to click.
    • Ratings & Reviews:  Allow people to leave ratings or reviews on your posts.  Here’s how to get ratings stars to show up in search results.google rating stars example
    • Author Image: If you setup a Google+ profile, you can make your authorship details appear along with your post in search results.author rich snippet example
    • Google +1’s: You can add a Google +1 plugin to each of your blog posts (feel free to try clicking mine at the bottom of this post :)).  If you +1 a post, your friends are likely to see it at the top of their personalized search results when they enter a related search term.  Not only that, but your image and name appear next to the result increasing the likelihood of a click.Google +1 example
  • Spend time writing high quality post descriptions (in your meta tags).  SEO plugins and WordPress themes like Thesis allow you to type in a description tag for your post without editing HTML.  This text is picked up by search engines and displayed in search results directly below your url. Well written copy makes users much more prone to click. Think about what search terms that will be used to reach your post and address them in your description.
      
    Do NOT overlook this tip.  Too many people leave the description tag as the first sentence of their post or use the same description on all of their pages.  That’s a huge mistake that will result in a lower CTR.
  • Add location specific details (if relevant).  Add city name and zip code to your title and description.  If you’re selling accounting services in 90210, make sure either “Accounting Beverly Hills” or “Accounting 90210” shows up in your title and description.  If a user enters location in their search it will appear in bold in your search result and be much more apt to be clicked. If your website covers several local cities and towns, consider creating a separate landing page for each.
  • Close a sale without a click.  If you include a phone number in your title or description, many searchers will call the number directly from search results.  This tip won’t increase your CTR, but if you close the sale, who cares! phone number in meta tags
  • Create a YouTube video.  Google owns YouTube and gives videos preferential search rankings.  If you create a video, often times Googe will show a video image directly in the results that is very likely to be clicked.youtube video snippet example
  • Keyword selection. While I mention it last, perhaps the most important step to increase your CTR is what you should focus on first: keyword selection.  Understand what phrases users will be entering into Google to reach your site and incorporate those keywords into your title tag and description.  This keyword will appear in bold in search results.  In the example below the search term used is “how to buy a car”.bold keywords in title tag

    Avoid using very general keywords like (guitar). Instead focus on targeted, actionable keywords that solve the problem the user is searching for: (“learn acoustic guitar” or “how to play the acoustic guitar”).

Lastly, there is another benefit of raising your click through rate.  It not only means more clicks, but a higher CTR is actually a signal to Google to raise your search ranking as well.

20 comments

  • Hi Geoff,

    This is a great list. And I absolutely agree with you on Description tags – they can be very powerful at getting people to click through.

    I always tell people to treat them like an Adwords ad and use the AIDA formula when they’re writing them:

    Attention (usually done with the Title, rather than the Description)
    Interest – Spark their interest as you would when writing an ad
    Desire – Create a desire in the reader to click through and read more
    Action – A call to action – could be as simple as ‘click here’ or ‘read more here’

    The only problem with Descriptions is that often Google picks out some text from your article that it believes is more closely related to the searcher’s term, so your carefully constructed Descriptions are not always used 🙁

    Cheers,

    Martin.

    • Thanks Martin. I should’ve included some stuff about AIDA, great point! Copywriting is certainly something I need to improve upon myself (and perhaps even subcontract :)).

  • One thing I admit is that I haven’t gotten around to updating all of the meta descriptions. There’s a heck of a lot of posts to go through. 😉 Maybe it makes sense to start with the top 20 searched articles?

    • Kevin, I would start by focusing your optimization efforts on just those posts that have a page 1 rank in the SERPs. This should give you the biggest impact.

        • The easiest way is to find out your best keywords from Google Analytics (or even WordPress Stats) and then type them into Google and see where your post shows up. Make sure to click the toggle on the result page to “hide personalization results” so you can see what a regular search would see.

          Also, short of typing into Google youserlf you could use this SERP Position Checker.

  • Hi there,

    What a great list – very practical. It reminds me once again that it’s important to follow the advice of the people who know more than I!

    I had never thought about ratings and review before now. So that’s a tip that I’ll certainly look into. I am definitely seeing more author photos attached to links like that and have set up a google+ profile myself.

    As a copywriter, I can wholeheartedly agree that keywords and writing for what your audience wants to read is important. If you can solve a problem for a client or potential reader, then that will help your CTR.

    Well all I can say Geoff, is that now my to do list has just gotten bigger. Thanks for that! I’ll let you know how I get on. Thanks for the advice.

    Take care,
    Denise

    • Hi Denise, welcome to the blog. Glad I could help grow your todo list! I need to drink my own Kool-aid and get on the creation of an author tag myself. Hope to see you around here more often.

    • Hi Brent, I’ve been guilty of that plenty of times too. It’s not so much that’s its bad, but there is such a great opportunity that many of us miss to say something really interesting to a searcher and grab their attention!

  • Great tips here. Got to agree with ddiy. Right selection of keyword is very important in optimizing your website. As experienced, I can say that specific keywords are the ones that convert most.

  • I always wondered how to get the author image to show up in Google, now I know its related to one’s Google+ profile. I will have to get on that soon. Great post!

    • Thanks E&M and welcome to the blog. Yeah, the author image can be a bit confusing to set up, but I plan on explaining how to do it in more detail soon.

    • Steve, There’s no reason you can’t use the same Google+ profile as an author on multiple blogs.

  • Hi Geoff,

    Do you think CTR can affect your site with regards to the Google Panda update? I have to admit, I am quite lazy sometimes and don’t always write a description for each post which is bad as you have pointed out. Do you think if I increased CTR, my ranking would improve?

    • Hi Mike, To a certain extent, all SEO advice is speculation, but I would be happy to speculate for you. My thoughts are that increasing CTR can only help you, and since Google does consider CTR in their algorithm (among hundreds of other factors) it should help no matter where you are ranking. Of course, if your Panda penalty is causing you not to rank at all, then you’ll have to look at other ways to have your site reconsidered.