A Brief ‘Why and How’ Analysis of Google Organic Click Through Rate (CTR)
It is one of the most contested topics in search engine optimization (SEO) today. Yes, ask the best SEOs about the most important ranking factors on Google and the answers will be as diverse as the background of these professionals.
Most SEOs still rehash the old techniques about link building and great content. Of course, others will swear by social media integration. However, if there is one more factor that splits SEO professionals, it has to be the place of organic click-through rate (CTR) in Google ranking.
The situation is not helped by the fact that Google is not forthcoming with details about how it actually ranks. In one of its most notable comments on CTR, the company avers that a high CTR is a good indication that users love your pages in terms of relevance and value.
Now considering that ads are one of the main tools of getting organic traffic, it becomes obvious that Google definitely considers CTR in its ranking on SERPs.
What is Click Through Rate (CTR) Anyway?
CTR measures the number of users who click on your link against those who had the opportunity to do it.
If your link features on a search engine results page (SERP) and 20% of those who view this SERP eventually click on your link, then your CTR is 20%.
Since 2014 when it was included in Searchmetrics’ SEO ranking factors, CTR has become increasingly popular.
Direct or Indirect; Does it Matter?
One main issue that comes up anytime Google ranking is being discussed is whether the factor that determines to rank is direct or indirect.
Most SEOs argue that you need to focus more on direct ranking factors such as link building and this is where semantics muddles things.
Where does CTR stand? The most important thing would be to determine if CTR has any real impact on ranking and not whether it’s a direct or indirect ranking signal.
Google CTR Matters
Is it a direct or indirect core ranking signal? Whatever the case, you need to appreciate that Google, either directly or through some of its influencers, has repeatedly highlighted the importance of more clicked results as opposed to less clicked content.
If a search engine is doing its ranking, then frequently ranked content will gravitate towards the top while infrequently clicked results will drop. These are the views of experts including a former Google insider, Edmond Lau.
But a response to a query on organic click-through rate (CTR) by Matt Cutts, another former Google team member, says it all. The
The Googles webspam team head was categorical that it does matter how frequently your links get clicked on and how often you follow up on the action you had in mind, be it subscription or purchases.
The bottom-line in the argument was that by improving the quality of your pages and in turn increasing the CTR, this would eventually give you a better return on investment.
Well, ROI, in this case, could mean anything from high ranking to sales conversion. If Google, for instance, is trying out the relevance of your content, a higher CTR would guarantee you pass the quality test, which is what every marketer dreams of.
Testing the Power of CTR
Different SEO researchers have tried to highlight the real impact of CTR but in most cases, the results have been artificially achieved.
This is because respondents would be required to click on links to see what happens on the SERP rankings. While the changes have been temporary, there is no denying that there was.
This is because respondents would be required to click on links to see what happens on the SERP rankings. While the changes have been temporary, there is no denying that there was an improvement in ranking.
Google’s RankBrain Project
To ascertain the importance of CTR it is important to have a look at Google’s RankBrain project which involves testing its machine-learning system with sites that have no external links or those they have little data on.
The question here becomes; how does Google determine which page ranks higher than the other in this case?
It all goes back to engagement and relevance and again CTR becomes an influential factor. Going through the complex findings from this study, it is obvious that sites with high CTR get a ranking boost on Google SERPs.
Tips on Raising Your Google CRTs
Now that you appreciate the importance of CRT in improving your ranking, it is time to learn how to raise the same.
It might not be a direct ranking signal and while there might be other obvious techniques to improve your ranking, you also need to appreciate that user engagement helps determine the relevance and quality of your pages. The fact that CTR is a key indicator
The fact that CTR is a key indicator in engagement and it’s also important to Google makes it critical to understand how to raise your Google CTR.
Here are some ideas on how to get it right:
- Prioritize poor-quality CTR pages
- It is possible to use Google analytics to determine which pages on your website have low-quality CTR scores. These are the pages you need to optimize.
- Work on titles: A captivating headline for your page is a sure way of improving your CTR. A keyword should feature in the title while some emotional trigger blended into the title will make your page irresistible. The best title must arouse curiosity, give something new and also have some emotional connection with the reader.
- Improve engagement metrics: Google ranking is largely about relevance and nothing achieves this better than increased engagement with users on your pages. Google metrics provide so much data including bounce rate and time on site. You need to use these engagement metrics to optimize your content and earn a higher ranking.
- Integrate social media marketing: Good CTR will come from brand visibility because users want to engage with a brand they know. Social media ads generate visibility and this, in turn, increases the likelihood that users will click through and convert.
- Keyword selection: It is the oldest rule in the book yet most marketers overlook it. You must pick the right keywords and with so many tools to test your keywords and phrases, there is no reason you should not have high CTR.
There is no reason your pages should be languishing yet it is very easy to optimize them for high CTR. A better CTR translates to more people on your site and this will, in turn, give signals to Google that your content is relevant.