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Tips for Improving Organic Click-through Rate

August 4, 2015

Simon Fryer
Simon is CandidSky's Search Director, with strong roots in organic SEO and analytics, and a disturbing passion for spreadsheets.

More often than SEO focus revolves around positioning and rankings. It’s easy to forget that your objective isn’t to get the highest ranking possible – it’s to capture as many users as possible who are carrying out a search. Ranking improvements are typically the best way to go about this, with click-through rate (CTR) increasing dramatically the higher you’re placed above the page. However,  in high-competition niches making that jump can be a huge task and significant gains in traffic can be made by optimising your listing for users rather than search engines. Here are some tips for improving your click-through rate from organic search.

Get attention with aggregate review ratings

If you’ve spent some time staring at the search engine results page, you know how much difference a splash of colour (and superb trust indicator) can add to an organic listing. Much like the now-defunct Authorship snippets, aggregate review ratings help build credibility and attract users to your listing.

Aggregate Review Rating Example

Provide more information on your products

Advertisers love Google shopping. Why? It provides users with more information about a product before they click, so if it’s not what they are looking for (perhaps it’s too expensive) people don’t click them, and advertisers avoid paying to attract someone who ultimately won’t want to buy there product. To an extent, the same is true of Product Markup which shows in organic results. Yes, if it’s not what they were looking for perhaps they won’t click the listing, but presenting this data can increase click-through rates from the right people. Best effects are produced when combined with aggregate review ratings.

gluegunsdirect.com snippet example

There are many more types of rich snippets depending on your page type. You can find out more here: Schema.org Guide For Beginners.

Use your meta description wisely

It’s ad copy after all, right? Whilst the page title is a key factor in SEO and shouldn’t be changed without thinking about the potential impact, we should apply typical ad copy methodology to meta descriptions. Use this space to craft a persuasive message; provide detail, describe benefits, and include a call-to-action. Are you running seasonal offers? Do you have a sale on? How about FREE DELIVERY? This is one of the rare exceptions where the use of block capitals can work in your favour to make your listing stand out. You can even use icons to make your description more interesting. In the example below we’re encouraging people to call straight from the SERPs:

CS meta icon

As its a big topic, here’s some further reading: How To Write Meta Descriptions for Maximum clicks

Be careful with your meta titles

Meta titles can be tricky. They are believed to be one of the most important on-page relevance indicators, and are also the primary headline for your ad. Write a headline for users but ensure your most valuable search terms are included, and remember to Capitalise The First Letter Of Each Word. You should also be very careful not to write titles which are too long or keyword stuffed, as there’s a good chance the title will be redacted in the SERPs, providing a somewhat unappealing title for users. Here’s an example from Littlewoods.com…

The version in the SERPs:

Littlewoods beds SERPs

The actual meta title:

Littlewoods beds meta title

The “credit & finance” availability is important to many shoppers but due to redaction searchers aren’t able to see it – no doubt resulting in more clicks for competitors who have been able to show the information.

Find the low hanging fruit

To find the most rewarding areas for improvement you’ll want to access search engines’ webmaster tools, such as Google’s Console. Access the “Search Analytics” report (shown below) and select clicks, impressions, CTR, and position.

Console serp optimisation

You’re looking for a search terms with an average position in the top 10 (anything lower and the returns won’t be high), low CTR, and high impressions. In the example below you can see that the listing for “Tempur Mattress” generated 11,000 impressions, with an average position of 6.8, and a CTR of 2.6%, quite low in relative terms. This is a prime candidate for SERP optimisation to improve CTR.

SERP CTR Example

If you’re trying to increase organic traffic to your site use these tips to properly optimise what you already have; it tends to provide a superb return compared with the time taken to make improvements. 

Thoughts? Questions? Tweet @sifryer or @CandidSky


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