By Emily Reiffer
Google processes billions of search queries on a daily basis. Here is only a handful of what people around the world search for:
- Product reviews
- Local businesses
- News updates
Ranking for keywords that are relevant to your products or services can be incredibly lucrative. Visibility in the search results can practically guarantee more targeted traffic to your landing pages. It positions your brand in front of potential customers right when they are ready to buy.
The main caveat though is where your site ranks. A study conducted by Chitika found that the first page of the search results drives 91.5% of all search clicks.
Top rankings then are key to driving traffic to your site. But another important consideration is your click through rate (CTR). This is simply the percentage of people who click through to your page and is a much more important metric than you think.
Why Your Organic CTR Matters
Top rankings are highly coveted for obvious reason.
The reality though is that a large majority of online users rarely click past the first page. So there is a strong incentive then for businesses to invest heavily in their SEO efforts. But even top positions don’t necessarily guarantee more traffic.
What matters then is how many people are actually clicking through to your listing.
Click through rate is an important metric as it gauges the effectiveness of a campaign. In Google AdWords campaigns for example, a low CTR could be an indication that your keywords are too broad or your ads are irrelevant. Meanwhile a high CTR means that more people are clicking through to your landing page, something which Google rewards.
But CTR is important for another reason: Rankings.
It’s no secret that Google rewards quality content. What’s less known is the correlation between click through rates and rankings. Data from Moz shows that CTR in the search results correlates to higher organic search positions.
If more people are clicking through to your page, it means that they’re finding your listing both useful and relevant. So a better CTR then not only means more traffic to your pages but potentially better rankings as well.
Here we look at several ways to get your search listing noticed on Google and increase your click through rates.
1. Craft Captivating Headline to Lure Visitors
David Ogilvy famously said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
This is perhaps one of the most famous ads that the legendary advertiser has written with an enticing headline:
In a time where people are constantly bombarded with advertisements, a well crafted headline can attract the right kind of attention. It gets people interested and makes them want to learn more.
The headline then is one of the most important aspects of any ad. This principle applies just as equally to your page titles. Even if you rank below your competitors, you can draw in more visitors with a captivating and eye catching title.
Here are several proven ways to create engaging page titles:
Including specific figures drives curiosity. They add a degree of legitimacy and also imply detailed research in the content itself to back up those figures.
Here’s an example of a search query for increasing website traffic:
The first page title “How to Get More Organic Traffic To Your Website” is rather bland and doesn’t offer a real incentive to click through. But the next result is much more specific. The title “How to Get 260.7% More Organic Traffic in 14 Days” is far more compelling and likely to get noticed than the other results.
Any kind of specificity works well but your content also needs to back up those figures.
Think of curiosity as bait. Once you hook visitors in just a little, you can slowly reel them in and get them to click through to your pages. Writing headlines that incite curiosity is something that Buzzfeed does extremely well. Here are several examples of pages that are trending:
One thing they all have in common? They incite curiosity and make you want to know more. Use a similar strategy to increase click through rates to your pages.
Highlight a benefit
Customers ultimately want to know, “What’s in it for me?”
Another way then to grab attention with your titles is to highlight a benefit. Benefits (not to be confused with features) connect to your customers on a more emotional level. Examples might be saving time, reducing costs, being more productive, etc.
Here is an example of a headline that focuses on a clear benefit:
Who wouldn’t want to save money on their next flights? Focus on a clear benefit that your audience can relate to. If you can do that, you have a far better chance of getting visitors to click through.
These are only some examples of writing compelling headlines. Experiment with each but be sure to also track your results.
2. Optimize Your Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the short snippet of text that appear in the search results below the page title and URL.
They provide an overview of what a page is about before a visitor decides to click through. Simply optimizing meta descriptions won’t necessarily boost your rankings. But they can (and do) have an impact on click through rates.
Here is an example of a well written meta description:
In contrast, here is another example of a meta description from the same search query:
The first example provides a better overview of what services are available from the clinic. There is also a phone number that potential customers can call to book an appointment. The second example is not only poorly written but it also looks incomplete.
Keep the following in mind when writing your own meta descriptions:
- Include a call to action: Your page listing has a better shot at standing out if you include a call to action (e.g. Call our business for a free consultation, etc.)
- Provide an answer: People use search engines to find information. Although you have limited space to work with, aim to provide answer that is relevant to the content.
- Make it relevant: Google automatically bolds parts of your description that matches a search query. For this reason you’ll want to include your target keywords but be careful not to overdo it either.
- Keep it short: You only have a limited about space before Google automatically truncates your snippets. Keep your descriptions within 160 characters or less.
To easily edit your meta descriptions in WordPress, download and install the Yoast SEO plugin.
Once you activate it, you’ll now see a snippet preview of how your page will look in the search results:
If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to edit the meta descriptions for your existing content. Using the Yoast SEO plugin will help make that a breeze.
3. Utilize Structured Data
Rich snippets were introduced back in 2009 to “give users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance.” They are not only useful for enhancing a search listing but also for getting noticed in the search results.
Here is an example of a recipe that has rich snippets:
Without clicking through the results, search engine users get informative details at a glance including average star ratings, preparation time, and even how many calories the recipe has.
In contrast, here is an example of another recipe without rich snippets:
The difference between the two is immediately apparent. The first example is far more likely to get noticed than the second example.
This is only a small example of how rich snippets can be used. Web pages can be marked with microdata found on Schema.org, a site that contains a vast library of different data types that webmasters can use to markup their pages.
Another added benefit of utilizing structured data is its correlation with higher rankings. Despite a very small percentage of websites that are incorporating rich snippets, a study from Searchmetrics discovered that sites that used Schema markup ranked four positions higher on average than websites without it.
That’s a huge advantage that can give your site a major boost in the search results. To get started with structured data, visit the Structured Data Markup Helper tool from Google:
Next you’ll need to choose a relevant data type. If you have an e-commerce store, you’ll want to choose the Product data type. After making your selection, you’ll need to input the URL of the page that you want to markup.
Click the Start Tagging button and you’ll see the following page:
The tool is straightforward to use. Simply highlight parts of your content to tag them. In this example, we’re tagging an article where we can tag elements such as Author, Data, Published, etc. When you’re done tagging the page, simply click the Create HTML button at the top.
The right pane contains the original HTML code of your page plus the schema markup code (highlighted in yellow). Simply copy and paste directly into your CMS, and save the changes. Then use the Structured Data Testing Tool to verify that your code is entered in and working properly.
Even with its obvious benefits, few websites actually utilize structured data. Implement rich snippets to boost the visibility of your search listings.
4. Use Search Engine Friendly URLs
It’s a good idea to optimize all aspects of your page listing right down to the URL itself. Back in 2009, Google tweaked how URLs were displayed in the search results to be more user friendly.
Here is an example of how this looks:
The change (rolled out globally) shows some search results in a hierarchy, giving visitors a better sense of where a page is in relation to the rest of the site. In this example, we see that iPads can be found in the Tablets category.
This breadcrumb structure is also visible when clicking through to the page itself:
In contrast, here’s an example of a URL with a random string of characters and numbers:
The URL in the first example is clear and gives users better context of the page before clicking through.
Earlier we looked at how the Yoast SEO plugin can be used to easily edit meta descriptions to be more user and search engine friendly. The plugin also makes it simple to change the page slug.
Google also uses breadcrumb markup to categorize the information from page. Use the Structured Data Markup Helper to add the appropriate markup to your pages and be sure to double check it with the Structured Data Testing Tool.
Higher click through rates ultimately translate to more clicks to your landing pages.
Even if your page isn’t at the top of the search results, you have a far better chance of getting noticed by implementing these techniques. These include crafting attention-grabbing headlines, optimizing your meta descriptions, implementing rich snippets, and optimizing your URLs. All of which help get your site noticed on Google and boost your click through rates.
Emily Reiffer is general manager at Digital Monopoly, parent company of Paid Traffic, an Australian based PPC advertising agency. She is a marketing fanatic and entrepreneur with a passion for everything search engine related. You can reach out to her on linkedin.