Google has been launching attacks on organic search results for several years now. If you’re like most website owners, you’ve noticed a significant drop in your organic click-through rate (CTR). As Google has introduced and enhanced copious SERP features – Featured Snippets, Knowledge Cards, Knowledge Panels, Image Packs, etc. – these features have crowded out organic search results. Instead of just competing with other websites, you’re now competing with Google to catch the viewer’s attention. If you don’t take steps to stand out, you’re bound to be ignored. So, if you want to learn how to improve CTR despite the war Google is waging on organic search results, scroll down for some handy advice.
How to Improve CTR
Put your keyword in your URL.
A user-friendly URL structure that is short, simple, and direct is more likely to catch the reader’s eye. In Google’s SEO Starter Guide, they issue a reminder that URLs are typically displayed in some form in search results and advise that “URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site.” If you doubt this advice, consider which of these options you would choose if you were presented with both on a SERP:
Even if you don’t think that you choose a search result based on its URL, you can’t deny that the two URLs above produce very different impressions. Because the first URL is simple, attractive, and includes a keyword, it seems more likely that it will include relevant content. Therefore, it makes sense that users are more likely to click on it.
This is reflected in research as well. In 2019, Backlinko released the results of a large-scale organic CTR study that found that keyword-rich URLs receive 45 percent more clicks than URLs that don’t contain the user’s search query.
Inject some emotion into your titles.
Your SEO title is one of the key elements viewers consider before choosing to click. An attractive, appealing, and concise title can play a huge role in your CTR. Interestingly, researchers have also found that “emotional” terms can increase the likelihood of a click. You want your readers to feel something, whether that’s a positive or negative emotion. Some examples of emotion-sparking terms include the following:
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Instead of just stuffing keywords into your titles, think about your target audience and what ideas they might find compelling. What are they hoping to achieve? What would they find interesting? What would get them excited and itching to click to find out more?
Sometimes people find it helpful to include more specific or engaging words in parentheses as well. You could also add some compelling text after a colon. For example, take a look at these ideas:
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Finally, remember that there is a size limit for SEO titles. Use a tool like the Yoast SEO plugin to ensure that your title fits within the limit and won’t be cut off.
Always add a meta description.
You only have a few seconds to catch viewers’ attention. So if you want a page to rank, always write an original meta description for it. This description should be relevant, informative, compelling, and fit within Google’s limits (another great reason to have the Yoast SEO plugin!). While it’s true that Google often writes its own description of a page (typically drawing from the page’s first paragraph), there are many cases in which it’s valuable to provide a meta description. For example, according to Search Engine Journal, writing a meta description is crucial for pages like the following:
- Your Homepage: Not only is it likely your most critical webpage, but also many homepages don’t include a wealth of text, which means Google may struggle to find good text for a description.
- Product & Category Pages: If you run an e-commerce site, it’s imperative that you get these pages right and fine-tune the details.
- Pages with Significant Search Volume: If you have numerous pages and don’t want to waste time writing meta descriptions for every single one, focus on those that are already doing well to give them a boost.
- Pages Lacking Text: If a page lacks text, Google won’t know where to draw from in order to provide a description. Resource pages (which are often just lists of links) and pages with embedded videos, widgets, and apps should always have meta descriptions.
Employ Structured Data
Structured data is code that you can add to your website to describe its content to search engines. The better that search engines understand your website’s content, the more likely it is that they will display your content in helpful ways on SERPs. For example, using structured data may increase your odds of being featured in the rich results of a SERP. Google allows you to mark up a variety of business-related info, such as business location, opening hours, company logo, events listings, products you’re selling, videos about your products or business, etc. After marking up your content, use the Google Rich Results test to ensure you haven’t made any mistakes.
Use Long-Tail Keywords
Quite simply, a long-tail keyword is a keyphrase that is long and specific. Many people are initially attracted to short keywords for their simplicity and the fact that they have large search volumes, but short keywords also have lots of competition, making it harder to rank highly and be clicked. Plus, because of their length and specificity, longer queries tend to be used by people who are more eager, interested, and/or knowledgeable. If you target specific long-tail keywords that are tailored to your customers, you’re more likely to garner clicks.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that due to new integrations and features from Google, learning how to improve CTR can be tricky. But if you produce high-quality, relevant content and utilize tips like those we’ve listed above, you should be able to give your website a leg up. Good luck!
If you’re hoping to build a beautiful, effective website that will rank on Google, contact 417 Marketing for help. Our team of knowledgeable, creative, and passionate professionals specializes in SEO, web design and maintenance, and Google Ads, and we have successfully completed over 700 websites since our inception in 2010. Contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.