Improving organic click-through-rate is a classical chicken and egg problem.
You can’t do anything substantial to improve organic CTR till you rank in the top 10 results. But your journey to the top 10 search results has high correlation with organic CTR.
So how do you solve this problem?
- If you are not ranking within the top 10 results, there’s no point putting an effort to improve your organic CTR. Better focus on making your content better and rank-able, work on your onpage SEO and do some off page SEO activities.
- If you are ranking within the top 10 results, focus on specific CTR parameters (that we will discuss below). Most of these are anyways important onpage SEO parameters, but once you rank in the top 10, maybe, you can optimize these even further.
What is organic click-through rate?
Organic click-through rate (also known as organic CTR) is the percentage of searchers clicking on a specific search result after making a search query. For a particular website, CTR varies across URLs and geographies, and is largely dependent on the search rank of that URL.
As per a study by Backlinko, 1st organic result on Google gets a CTR of 31%, while the second one gets a CTR of 24%.
Quoting the latest CTR number from Advanced Web Ranking, the CTR figure for 1st rank stands at 36%.
That’s quite obvious: we tend to click on the first few results instinctively.
But what if you are not in the top 3 results. Can you still improve your organic CTR?
That’s what I am going to show you in a while today.
How to calculate organic CTR?
Organic click-through-rate of a URL is function of 3 variables:-
- time frame of your calculation
- number of times a URL appeared in searches for a keyword
- percentage of searchers clicking on this URL
If a URL is ranking for a keyword that is searched 1000 times a week, and 20 of those searches resulted in a click on this URL, then the organic CTR of the URL for the week is 20/1000*100= 2%.
In short, organic CTR = (Clicks / Impressions) *100 for that particular time duration.
Is organic CTR important for ranking?
While Google stays mum on this, it’s an open secret that user engagement and behavior is an important ranking signal for the search algorithm.
And that’s the reason why you should continuously work to improve your website organic CTR.
If a page makes an improvement in its organic CTR, Google views it as a better solution to a user query. This is a factor good enough to move your website higher in the search ranking.
I suggest you watch this video from Rand who explains why you should focus on factors like CTR.
“We found on average, that if you beat the expected CTR, then you’re far more likely to rank in more prominent positions. Failing to beat the expected CTR makes it more likely you’ll appear in positions 6–10.”
Getting started with improving organic Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
Start by pulling your website performance report from Google Search Console.
Next, select Impressions, CTR and Position within the report, as shown below.
Next, go to PAGES & select the URL you want to analyze. Thereafter, click on QUERIES to see all the keywords your page is ranking for. Sort it by ranks.
Start your analysis by paying special attention to keywords that rank within the top 3, and the ones that rank from position 4th to 10th for your focus keyword.
For all the newly ranked pages in the top 3 results or pages that have maintained ranking between 4th to 10th for a while now, optimize as below.
See if you can find an outlier in the report.
For example, I could spot a keyword which has an exceptionally low CTR as compared to other keywords, but a fairly high amount of impressions.
Spot all such opportunities and then decide which of these align with your page content. It may happen that your page is accidentally ranking for an irrelevant keyword, in which case, you should just ignore it.
But if the keyword is relevant to your page and your business, your aim then should be to improve the organic CTR for it.
There are a couple of ways to improve organic CTR. All these aim at just 2 things: improving the search result visually; and matching to the user’s search intent as closely as possible.
7 ways to improve organic click-through rate (CTR)
1.Focus on long tail keywords
Search strings with more than three to four words are called long tail keywords.
These are highly focussed search queries, and fairly defined too.
For example, if someone is searching for “SEO”, you never know what’s on his mind. He might be looking for a course, or a free tool, or an SEO consultant. No one can guess it.
Naturally, the results that are generated for this keyword will have low CTR, because they won’t serve the user intent very well.
Now compare this to a query “SEO course for beginners”. It’s clear that this person is looking for an SEO course that is meant for beginners.
For this long tail query, you can generate highly targeted content wherein you need to talk about SEO basics for a beginner.
And when the same content is shown to the searcher, he clicks on it because the content matches his intent.
As a result, your URL gets a higher organic CTR.
2. Write crisp and concise titles
Your page title is the first thing that a user is going to see when you rank in search results.
You need to write a winning title that can draw attention and make the user click on your link.
While this doesn’t mean you need to be deceptive or misleading, the focus should be to write something that instantly clicks with the reader. Here’s a detailed video from Google’s Matt Cutts, explaining how you should approach your titles.
The good news is that you can write engaging titles without becoming an expert copywriter; thanks to some battle-tested copywriting strategies. These strategies can help you write eye-catching titles that can draw clicks to your website.
Some of the best practices include:-
a) Match the intent: Catch the user’s attention by showing what your page is all about. The title has to be a concise summary that matches the user intent.
b) Include the target keyword: Include the focus keyword within the title (helps not just the search engine but also the user).
c) Make it click worthy: Sprinkle emotion in your title (use words like amazing, awesome, insane, shocking, etc.) without being deceptive.
d) Follow proper formatting: Utilize formatting by using brackets, hyphens, pipes etc. This helps you talk about multiple ideas without disturbing the readability aspects (e.g. Best OnPage SEO Tools | 100% Free & Easy to Use). Also, don’t do unnecessary capitalizations.
When optimizing titles, do extensive SERP Audit to understand how the top ranking results write their titles.
Don’t copy them, but pick the best of all and write a title that stands out from the rest.
Here’s a data pull from OnPage Champ for the keyword “Best OnPage SEO Tools”. See how we stand out from the rest by adding “Free to Use” within our title.
3. Write powerful meta description
A meta description isn’t used as a ranking signal – that’s the official stance by Google.
That’s probably the reason why meta descriptions are “once-written-then-forgotten”.
I hope you are not making the same mistake.
Well thought and quality meta descriptions can improve your organic CTR, thereby giving a boost to your SEO (and your rankings).
What it means is that while the content written in the meta description is not considered by the ranking algorithm, user action generated as a result of the meta description is definitely accounted for to decide the page rank.
That’s what we should use a meta description for; a means to drive favorable user behavior.
Best practices to write engaging meta descriptions include:-
a) Focus on intent: Write an intent-based description that satisfies the needs of your user. If he wants to know about the best car under 1000cc, write a meta description that conveys exactly the same idea. Be descriptive.
b) Include the target keyword: Have your focus keyword present in the meta description. Search engines are going to ignore it but not the search user. After all, he searched for the keyword and would be tempted to click your link if he finds the keyword in your description. That’s a little confirmation bias at play.
c) Make it actionable: Use powerful words in your description so that it generates curiosity and makes the user ask for more, thereby driving a click. Words like FREE, IMAGINE, INSTANT, YOU/YOUR, etc. work like magic. Needless to say, the content on your page has to deliver what the meta description has promised, else the user will bounce off.
d) Speak data & facts: Include a data fact, if possible. That makes your story persuasive. E.g. “sold more than 100,000 units” or “downloaded more than 1 mn times” serves as an important validation.
Just like Titles, analyzing the meta description of your top ranking competitors is equally crucial.
To stand out from the rest, you need to talk about the USP of your content, at the same time promise more than the rest.
That’s why, always go through what your competitors are writing, and how you can outshine them.
For e.g., If you analyze the top ranks for keywords “Best OnPage SEO Tools”, you will find lot of interesting ideas. Can you somehow make it better for your?
4. Create descriptive URLs
URL helps the search user build trust with the website by quickly scanning the name of the company and his keyword within the URL etc.
The structure of the URLs helps them make better understanding of the result and the website, by just looking at the snippet.
For example, the URL of the search result like below explains that the blog will have 13 SEO tools that are focussed towards small businesses. At the same time, there is a larger category by the name of “SEO Tools”, so this website will have more SEO tools listed.
Here are a couple of URL best practices:-
a) Focus on clarity: Write clear, descriptive URLs that are meant for humans. This generates trust & confidence.
b) Include the keyword: Have your focus keyword included in the URL. It sets the right context and expectations.
c) Remove the fluff: You may avoid usage of stop words (on/of/a/the etc.), though this is optional.
d) Brevity is the key: Shorter the URL, the better. Long URLs are often skipped by the users while reading. Reduce their effort.
e) Implement breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are visible in the search results. That helps your user see your website structure and the placement of URL within it. This again generates confidence and trust that the content they are going to view seems relevant.
4. Implement rich snippets to attract user attention
A normal search result shows the following information as part of the snippet:-
- SEO Title
- Meta description
Usage of rich snippets enhances the information that is displayed, both visually as well as contextually.
This results in better search results, closely matching the intent of the user thereby resulting in higher click through rates.
Rich snippets are generated by Google after referring to the HTML Schema Tags.
Some of the most frequent examples of rich snippets include:-
- Videos etc.
Clearly, rich snippets serve extremely important and critical information to the user. The probability of your SERP link getting clicked increases multifold if you are conveying meaningful information through rich snippets.
RIch snippets are all about occupying some extra real estate within the SERPs, thereby catching user attention.
If you are ranking within the top 10 results, do try adding FAQ snippets to your results, as we have done for a couple of our pages (see below).
In addition to their extra visibility, they also help the user get answers to some critical questions.
If the user finds the answer relevant to his needs, there’s a high probability that he will click on your result to delve deeper.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to add FAQ Schema in WordPress.
6. Increase visibility via featured snippets
Aim for featured snippets if you want to increase your website’s visibility on the internet.
Featured snippet is the most appropriate answer shown by Google in response to a user query.
This result appears before any organic result, and surely grabs users’s attention in no time.
Secondly, your website will be seen as a trustworthy and authoritative website because Google choses your website, among hundreds of website, to be at the top.
Now, any user would love to visit a website that is recommended by Google for its query.
Surely, having a featured snippet will make users click on your website.
7. Continuous iteration and improvement
This is a no brainer. No matter what you do, there is always a scope to improve your content & SEO even further.
Remember, improving organic click-through-rate is all about focussing on the needs of your user. And needs change very often.
Keep building your hypothesis (and iterating) till you hit the right spot.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
#1. What is organic CTR?
Organic CTR is the percentage of users clicking on a web result after making a search query. Your position within the search ranks impacts your organic click-through-rate.
#2. How do I improve organic CTR?
- Optimize website for long-tail keywords
- Write eye-catching page titles
- Write powerful meta description
- Create descriptive URLs
- Implement rich snippets for web pages
- Optimize content for featured snippets
#3. How do you find organic CTR?
For a particular URL keyword combination, you can find its organic CTR within Google Search Console.
#4. Is a high organic CTR good or bad?
High organic CTR is always good because it means that more users are clicking on your website after running a search query. An increase in organic CTR should result in an increase in sales/signups and better rankings.
Improving your click-through rate will have far-reaching effects on your business.
At one end, it means search engines start seeing your website more favorably. That’s because higher organic CTR is a signal that user query has been answered successfully. This results in better ranking position of the website.
On the other end, this higher push means more traffic, more leads and more revenue for your business.
Therefore, it makes all sense to hunt down your pages that are currently ranking between position 4th to 10th in SERPs, and try to incorporate the above-mentioned suggestions to drive user attention and higher organic click-through rate.