How many times have you received an email promising increased search engine rankings for your website in the last month? If you dig through your spam folder you’ll probably find at least a handful. Most people are savvy enough to understand that this promise almost never holds any weight.
Let’s say that it does though – you hand a large pile of money to somebody who promises to make sure you are “Number One on Google”. Next thing you know, you really are at number one on Google’s list somehow. Don’t forget the fact that Google displays different results to users based on a myriad of variables (even ‘number one’ for a particular search isn’t always in that position based on user search history, etc.). For this reason, Google Webmaster Tools offers the search position as an average for accuracy.
So, now you’re number one on the search results, but suppose you haven’t seen a significant bump in traffic. That is when Click-Through Rate (CTR) needs to be reviewed. You can show up a thousand times on the first page search result but if the CTR is 2%, you still only got 20 clicks from that great ranking.
Below is a sample of a Google Webmaster Tools search query page. Of course the first result has a 90% CTR, which is outstanding. This type of result is usually returned for a query with high brand-name awareness or a specifically detailed set of words unique to the site such as a company name.
The question you always want to ask is “How do I increase CTR?” The answer can be a number of different things, but the end result is providing the user with what they are looking for.
- Relevant Meta Descriptions are important. Making sure that your description is concise and gets the message across can be crucial, as this is often returned with a search result.
- Be Competitive: If you have an Ecommerce site and code your products with structured data, you can take advantage of Rich Snippets. Not only does this potentially help you rank higher than your site may on its own, but it allows you to display your competitive advantage. To increase CTR your Meta Descriptions should be relevant as described above. Also research your competition to ensure that your pricing is competitive. If you have the same item priced lower than the competition you will almost guarantee to increase your CTR.
- Be Observant: When you make a change you think will help, measure your results over time. Did average rank and/or CTR increase? If not, you may need to re-evaluate the strategy and content of the page. Search engines tend to reduce search rank for pages which have lower CTRs over time.
- Control what you can: Keep in mind, there will always be market trends. Search traffic for a particular keyword/phrase isn’t always the same. People looking for Halloween costumes probably aren’t doing so in March. However, if your CTR remains steadily high, you are probably giving people what they want regardless of how often it is being searched for.
What this means for you: Keep your eye on the prize. Search results are only as good as the number of times a user clicks through to your site. Keep that in mind as you create new content. Make sure it is relevant to your users and lines up with your strategy. The information is there for you to help you succeed.