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  • Click-Through-Rate: 9 Ways to Improve Click Through Rates in SEO

    Click Through Rate: 9 Ways to Improve Click Through Rates in SEO

    Click-throughs to your site are critical for SEO and SEM success.

    As the saying goes:

    You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take

    In digital marketing, you miss 100% of the conversions that never click.

    And unless you’re in a top position in search, your click-through-rate will be menial:

    click through rate stats chart SEO


    So here are some ways to fix and improve your click through’s:

    1. URL String Optimization

    If you want to improve your Click Through Rate, first think about your URL string. Is it optimized for both users and search engines? Does it adequately describe what the user is looking for? In other words, does it fulfill search intent?

    Write (and even rewrite) your URL strings to match the search intent of your user. We have a complete post on search engine friendly URL writing.

    Pro tip: If you rewrite your URLs, don’t forget to add a 301 redirect from the old string to the new string, ensuring there are no redirect chains from previous redirects as well.  

    2. Featured Images

    Adding a featured image to your post significantly increases the probability of getting clicked from a SERP.

    People love images, especially relevant, custom images that are descriptive of what they are clicking through to. Featured images are also larger on mobile search which means posts and pages with featured images displaying on mobile tend to have a higher bump in click-throughs there as well.

    Featured images also significantly increase the probability of a click-through in a Google/search engine Images search.

    3. Schema Markup

    Adding schema markup expands a page’s real estate in the SERPs. Here’s an example:

    Expanded real estate and more descriptive language on what a page is about will always improve the click through’s you can expect from search.

    For more detail on how to implement, visit Schema.org.

    4. Titles & Meta Descriptions

    What you put in your meta description is normally what shows underneath your site name in the search results page.

    Examples of meta descriptions in search results

    In the above screenshot, you can see that the first search result I’ve put an arrow by didn’t make good use of the meta description at all. Does it entice you to click through? Of course not. But the second one could. Hmm, you say to yourself as you read: customized baby shoes that are made within 24 hours? Nice. I’d click that one. Wouldn’t you, if you were searching for blue baby shoes?

    Your meta descriptions play a big role in whether someone actually visits your site — even if you’re already ranking at the top. Take advantage of this and use them wisely.

    Your meta description will also be what social media users see when your page/landing page is shared. If someone shares your site on Facebook, the share will show your meta description. Yes, they could click on it and change the content, but most users won’t bother to do that. See below:

    Showing how meta descriptions are used in a FB share


    5. Featured Snippets with Lists

    While you can’t choose to get the coveted position 0 with a featured snippet, you can do some things to your content that significantly increase your chances of getting featured.

    One of the best ways to get featured in position 0 is to write a listicle type post or answer a very specific question for a long-tail query.

    Create a helpful description so searchers know whether your site has what they’re looking for. Use a call to action to get their attention and make them want to click through and visit that page. But keep it short. Try to limit it to 150-160 characters at most.

    • If you run an e-commerce site, then include price ranges in the meta description for your product pages.
    • If you run a small local business, include your phone number to generate more call-in leads.
    • Make unique descriptions for each page
    • If you’re using WordPress, most of the SEO plugins will give you the option for customized meta descriptions (All in One SEO plugin, Yoast, and SEO Ultimate are a few of them).

    Pro tip: use this tool to check your website rankings on Google and see whether you have obtained featured snippets for your landing page or post. 

    6. Table of Contents

    Adding a table of contents (either manually or with a plugin like Table of Contents Plus) can significantly impact your visibility and Average click through rate on individual pages and posts.

    Here’s what to expect when such a page is indexed by Google:

    A table of contents with internal links increases the real estate for a given page, significantly impacting click throughs and dwell time

    7. Long Tail Keyword Focus

    The more targeted your page or post, the more likely it will answer the specific question of a user. Broad match terms are great because they can drive a lot of traffic, but they often do not match search intent. Long tail queries do that best.

    We discuss long tail keyword targeting in more detail here.

    8. Optimize for Mobile

    When seeking to improve a site’s click through rate, make sure to focus on mobile search. Here’s why:

    result of email marketers,digital marketers,email marketing,email marketing campaign,affect click through rateWhen designing your URLs, descriptions and images (all the items your user will see in a SERP), make sure to consider how that page or landing page might display on mobile vs. desktop as more and more users are likely to be visiting using a mobile device.

    9. A/B Test

    There are some intangible factors that affect click-throughs, which can’t be concisely identified in a bullet point. Some users prefer the texture of certain words over others. Some prefer subtlety while other prefer frankness. You won’t know for sure until you test in the field.

    Use AB tests to measure different variations of your copy against each other. Set each to run under similar circumstances, at similar times of day and on identical platforms, and measure which variation is more effective at generating clicks. Do a few rounds of this, and you should be able to form a clear conclusion on which text works best, and apply those findings to the remainder of your campaign.

    Put these strategies to good use when writing any new text around your external links. Measure the results of your efforts, make adjustments when necessary, and eventually you’ll hone a near-perfect strategy to attract more people to your site through links.

    Bonus: Content and links are what we do! Let us help you with our custom link building services!

    How Valuable is a Single Click?

    Clicks are thought to be one of the most important forms of online currency when it comes to digital marketing. If an online ad/online advertising campaign generates 1,000 clicks to your site, it’s clearly more valuable to your bottom line than a similar campaign that only generates 100. There are thousands of articles dedicated to explaining ways you can get more clicks, including many on this site, but none of them explain just how valuable one click to your site is.

    Each site has a unique purpose, a unique product, and a unique customer base, so one click to you may not be as valuable as a click to one of your competitors. Nevertheless, it is possible to calculate approximately how valuable each click to your site is with a few simple steps:

    Find Your Total Number of Clicks

    This is the easiest step, but here you’ll have to decide a specific point of reference. For example, you might choose to look at clicks over the course of the past month, or over the course of the past year. Generally, the wider range you look at, the more accurate your “average” is going to be, but going wider isn’t always a good bet if you’re in the habit of changing your strategies often.

    Log into Google/search engine Analytics or Google Search Console and take a look at your total web traffic across all channels. We’ll be divvying this up a little later, but for now, find the total number of clicks you achieved for your chosen period of measurement. For example, let’s say you had 3,000 visits in the past month.

    Find Your Total Number of Conversions

    Now, you need to find your total number of onsite conversions. If you’re looking at a landing page, this is probably going to be higher than if you’re just looking at your site in general, but keep your focal point consistent—if you calculated 3,000 clicks to your main site, determine how many conversions happened on your main site. Factor in any conversions you received, no matter where on the site they came about. For example, let’s say you had 20 conversions in the past month.

    Find the Value of Each Conversion

    This can be tricky, depending on your business model. If you’re a simple e-commerce site and your only counted conversions are completed orders, you can start by calculating the average value of an order. This will give you a rough estimate for how “valuable” each new conversion is—it doesn’t take into account the fact that a click might result in a lifetime customer who orders multiple times, but theoretically those new orders would happen only after the user clicks back in.

    For B2B companies or subscription-based companies, conversions generally rely on filling out an information form. From there, information is collected in a lead pool, where each individual stands a small chance of converting to an actual lifetime customer. Take this value and divide it by the number of conversions it takes to get one real customer—this is the average value of each of your conversions. For example, let’s say the value is $100.

    Divide Your Total Earned Value by Your Number of Clicks

    Now, take the total earned value of your given period—in our case, this is 20 conversions times $100 for $2,000. This value represents the total amount of earned revenue you received from your inbound traffic. Now for the magic—take this value and divide it by the number of clicks you got in a given period. In our case, this is $2,000 divided by 3,000 clicks, which results in approximately $0.67 per click in value.

    The Traffic-Conversion Relationship

    The “missing piece” when it comes to evaluating site traffic as a measure of return is the number of conversions you receive. Conversions are defined differently for different businesses, but no matter how you define yours, it’s a measurable form of engagement of a user with a brand that results in some measurable gain. It might be the purchase of a product or a signup to an important form—whatever it is, it’s a sign that a particular visitor is of consequential value to your brand, and not just a tire-kicker or a passerby.

    This isn’t to say that traffic isn’t important, or even that conversions are more important than traffic. Instead, know there is a delicate relationship between the two. If you have a high conversion rate but little traffic, you won’t be in a much better position/ad position than if you have lots of traffic, but almost no conversions. You’ll have to analyze and understand both sides of the coin to properly direct and improve your campaign, and try to keep each in balance with the other.

    Focus on Profitability

    To some, marketing is a necessary budget item like a utility bill—you pay a certain amount of money each month, and continue to receive necessary services. Of course it would be nice to gain better, more effective services, but profitability isn’t the main concern.

    This is an ineffectual conclusion. In fact, profitability should be your main concern in any content or inbound marketing campaign. Instead of thinking of your Internet marketing budget as a utility bill, think of it as an investment. You have X amount of capital to invest in the smartest, most efficient way possible, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that money is invested wisely. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you invest in a marketing campaign as long as it is profitable; low-budget campaigns can be a boon for a business, and high-budget campaigns can be a disaster. It’s all in how profitable your campaigns end up being.

    How Do Click-Through Rates Affect Search Rankings

    For as long as SEO has been around, search optimizers have debated how much “user experience” factors into a search rank. According to some data, qualitative factors like how long a user spends on a page or landing page can influence how that page ranks—but you could also make for a case of correlation influencing this relationship, rather than causation. On the other hand, you have classic “standbys” as ranking influencers, such as inbound link quality, with all other measurable ranking factors being secondary, correlational, or purely coincidental.

    Now, thanks to some insights from Google engineer, we may have a clue as to whether one of the most hotly debated topics in the user experience debate (click-through rates) is just a myth, or if it truly does influence how your site ranks in Google or other search engines.

    The Idea Behind Click-Through Rate Influence

    The concept behind Average Click Through Rate (CTR) influence is pretty simple, and it’s likely the reason so many search optimizers have found it easy to believe that it’s a verifiable ranking signal.

    Google has an anticipated spread of Average click through rates (CTRs) for its various search results ranks. For example, let’s say it expects 1,000 click for the top query, 200 for the second, and 100 for the third. Now, let’s say after a while, the three sites in these positions offer a major discrepancy; the first site is only getting 400 clicks, the second site gets its expected 200, and the third gets 700. That’s an anomaly, and Google might come to the conclusion that this third entry is way more relevant than the other two. Accordingly, it may boost its rank.

    Google Click-Through Rate

    (Image Source: SearchEngineLand)

    Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to account for this pattern in a controlled experiment, keeping all other ranking factors consistent.

    Negative Evidence?

    There have been some interesting and, admittedly, persuasive studies in the past that have seemingly disproven, or at least suggested evidence to the contrary of the idea that organic click through rates(CTRs) influence search rank potential. One in particular used a “click bot” to automatically click on certain results for a small range of keywords as a controlled experiment to see if additional clicks from searches alone were enough to move the rankings of a particular entry. The results, as you might imagine, were nonexistent. There was no upward momentum whatsoever.

    click bot

    (Image Source: SearchEngineLand)

    However, as others have pointed out, there’s a serious flaw in this study: it used click bots. Google is no stranger to the use of bots in manipulation of search ranks (and other online advantages), and it has precautions in place to guard against these negative techniques. While the experiment is interesting, it doesn’t offer conclusive proof that organic click through rate(CTR) isn’t a ranking signal.

    Recent Evidence and RankBrain’s Influence

    A recent experiment done by Wordstream (and published by Moz) illsustrates a very interesting relationship between Average  click through rate (CTRs) and search, and it goes a step further by drawing in possible effects from RankBrain, which helps Google decipher and understand semantically complex user queries.

    Here’s the basic rundown of the experiment. Wordstream examined the relationship between Average click through rate(CTRs) for given search queries and how they relate to a given search position. The key here is that basic keyword “head terms” are plotted separately from long-tail keywords, which is a major focus of RankBrain.

    CTR vs organic search position

    (Image Source: Moz)

    As you can see, long-tail keywords tend to carry a high click through rate (CTR), on average, than their basic counterparts. The same keyword niche was used to attempt to isolate variables that may have otherwise influenced the difference—so what could account for this?

    You could make the argument that the big difference here is the fact that long-tail keywords have a higher likelihood of premeditated user intent, which in turn could influence higher effect click through rate(CTRs) in general. However, note that in high-position ranks, long-tail terms greatly outperform basic keyword phrases, while in lower organic ranks (10 and lower), the difference is almost negligible.

    Keep that in mind when looking at this graph of similar keyword terms in paid search results:

    CTR vs paid search ads

    (Image Source: Moz)

    The same pattern is not visible here. In the top ranks, the differences between shorter and longer keyword phrases is much tighter together, following a much more linear path as the ranks get lower.

    What’s the key takeaway from this study? There’s something interesting going on with Average click through rate(CTRs) and specifically organic search ranks. There’s just one thing stopping us from certifying this as evidence that click through rate(CTRs) positively influence search rank.

    The Co-Dependency Problem

    The big problem is that click through rate(CTRs) and search ranks are co-dependent variables. Assuming that Average click through rate(CTR) does influence search rank, the two become mutually inseparable. Did a search rank increase because it got a high click through rate(CTR), or did its click through rate(CTR) grow higher because it got a higher search rank? It’s almost impossible to isolate the factors here.

    How This Affects Your Strategy

    As there’s no direct proof of causation between click through rate(CTRs) and organic search ranks, and because even if there was, there are dozens of factors that are more important (including site structure, content, and external links), this shouldn’t affect your strategy too much. Click-through rates are still a good thing, and you should still aim to optimize for them with compelling title tags and accurate meta descriptions, but they may not directly affect your search ranks. Until we have more information, keep user experience optimization as a strategy separate from your SEO, and improve both for the best possible results for your site.

    Strategies for Optimizing Text for Increasing Click-Throughs

    If you’re managing an active online presence, the more traffic you can get to your site, the better. Finding ways to drive more clicks and more visits to your site is a surefire way to get more visibility for your brand, more conversions on your site, and of course, a greater stream of revenue as a result. With a myriad of external links pointing to your website embedded or sandwiched in text, if you can optimize that text to increase the likelihood of viewers clicking through, you’ll enjoy the benefits.

    Increasing Click-Throughs for Syndicated Links

    Whether you’re working on building your domain authority for SEO through external links or building your brand reach through syndicated content on social media, there are dozens of places where you post links to your site on a regular basis. Cleaning up the text you use to introduce those links will give your users a more concise, more compelling message, which will increase their tendency to click your link and visit your site.

    Increasing Click-Throughs for a Google Ads Campaign

    In a Google AdWords advertising campaign, you’re only going to pay for people who click on your Online advertising/online ad, up to your set budget. Therefore, increasing your total click-throughs will not increase the total traffic to your site—it will just help you hit your budget faster.

    However, increasing your click-throughs on an Google AdWords campaign has a ton of other benefits. It can increase your Quality Score, which can indirectly give you a boost in rankings (if your rankings have previously dropped), and simultaneously lower your average cost per click and minimum bid—making your entire ad campaigns cheaper in the process. High click-through rates are a sign of authority and quality, both of which are favorable qualities to Google, and Google always rewards the sites that play by its rules.


    If you rank well in the search engines, don’t let your meta descriptions be the stumbling block to getting visitors to actually come to your site. Even if you aren’t ranking as high as you’d like, remember that your meta descriptions get circulated when people socially share your site, too!

    Either way, we can help you with your SEO needs, starting with an SEO audit and then on to a quality link building outreach. We can show you how to optimize your descriptions, get your site set up so they’re easy to manage, and even help you push your site upward in the search rankings, too. Simply contact us if you’d like a free consultation and quote.

    Chief Marketing Officer at SEO Company
    In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. As a technical SEO strategist, Sam leads all paid and organic operations teams for client SEO services, link building services and white label SEO partnerships. He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building. Connect with Sam on Linkedin.
    Samuel Edwards