One of the biggest topics of discussion that circulate in the search industry is, does organic click-through rate (CTR) impact page search ranking? People have different opinions about the influence of CTR on page rankings. Some call it a myth, while others are pretty convinced that Google looks into end-user data to rank a certain page that gets most number of hits. However, a Google engineer confirms that later is certainly the case. The logic is if a page is ranked on the 4th or 5th position in search and gets more than expected CTR, Google will rank the page higher because a great number of users are interested in that result. Therefore, CTR is significantly valuable for higher page rank, especially for long-tail queries.
Whether you believe in the theory or not, optimizing for higher CTR means that you are working to attract more clicks. More clicks means you are getting more traffic and more traffic results in better conversion rates, because if you are making more people interested in your product or service it channels through leads, conversions and sales. Now coming back to the question of why SEO experts are not passionate about increasing organic CTR like many PPC marketers. Following are some useful tips for boosting organic CTR.
Search Result Listing
Digital marketers all over the world are targeting page 1 of search results, but there is significant difference for a result appearing in 1st place, 3rd place or 6th – 8th place. A recent study by Nielsen Group identified that users spend over 80% of their time looking for information above the fold. Therefore, it is no surprise that search results above the fold are seen first and more often. Users are more likely to click on the top results because of their navigation pattern. Another CTR study conducted by Catalyst in 2013 indicates that 3% of Page 1 organic clicks go to the first four organic rankings.
TIP: To improve organic CTR try to achieve listing closer to the top of search result page. Work on your ecommerce SEO strategy and publish informational content that answers common user queries.
Page Tag Title
The title tag is the blue headline link you see on search engine result page. It is the title of your webpage or other HTML documents. The page title tag can influence searchers to click on your link in the search results page. Take your time to come up with a creative description title tag because it can make or break your organic CTR. Make sure to use words in the title that match user queries. The character length is 65 characters before Google truncate a little snippet that exceeds 65 characters. When writing a tag title consider emotion element that triggers user action.
TIP: Keep your focus on word choice, character length and query match when writing a title tag. Also, keep a good balance of emotional aspect in your title tag against targeted keywords.
Page Meta Description
Meta descriptions provide a little detail of what your page is about. It gives a little understanding to the users of your content before they click it. Though it does not directly influence your organic search ranking but give your users enough to decide whether to or not to click on your website. Marketers see Meta description as an opportunity to get the message each time the page is displayed in search results. However, Google sometimes does not display Meta description in search result page snippet and use other sources like content publically available on the website. The character limit for Meta description in 160 characters, make sure to write something great using target keywords.
TIP: Just like when writing a title tag for Meta description focus on word choice, character length, query match and additionally call to action. Adjust your Meta description for special event of the year like Christmas, New Year etc. continuously tweak ad copy to see what works best.
URL & Site Structure
The page URL is another area where search engines influence what is displayed on the search results page and affects the CTR. In 2009 Google introduced breadcrumb navigation that defines how Google algorithm generates site hierarchies displayed in search results page. Webmasters adjust their URL snippet with rich snippet markup to be cleaner when providing context to user queries. Rich snippet market is a set of detail intended to help users with specific queries. Many ecommerce businesses are using breadcrumb navigation as a means to provide valuable context against customer queries and provide additional navigation options.
TIP: Make sure you follow a structured site structure and hierarchy, pay attention to folder structure, query match, word choice and breadcrumb navigation snippets, also markup your pages with breadcrumb information for search engines.
Rich Snippet & Structured Data Markup
Since Google introduced rich snippets, all there search giants (Google, Bing & Yahoo) announced joint support for schema.org, which “provides a collection of schemas, i.e., html tags that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways recognized by major search providers.” Website owners essentially add HTML markups that allow search engines to identify specific elements on the page that are shown in search result. Marking up HTML makes your landing page appear search results page that helps in drawing user attention. Many businesses have added structured data markup like product reviews and product pricing.
TIP: Implement structured data markup on all application pages of your website, see different types of content and markup formats. See how your pages appear in search results using Google structured data testing tool.