Importance of Click through Rate in any SEO Campaign
Advances in information technology over the past few years have resulted in changes in how we share information. We are moving away from the traditional brick and mortar business in favor of transacting online. The way we attract and interact with customers has also changed as a result. Customers today have a bigger voice thanks to social media platforms.
Online marketing through platforms such as LinkedIn, AdWords, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram now offer businesses an innovative and even more effective way to communicate with potential customers. A 2014 survey by Hubspot for example, showed that more than 90% of marketers found online marketing on social media platforms to have been important to their business’ success. 80% of the marketers surveyed also attributed increased traffic to their websites through online marketing.
What it’s all about
There are various metrics used by online marketers to determine the success of their campaigns. These metrics help them adjust their online marketing campaigns accordingly for greater success. Click Through Rate (CTR) is one of these metrics.
CTR refers to the number of clicks in comparison to the number of impressions (appearances) for a given keyword/keywords. CTR can be applied for keyword searches as well as for Pay Per Click advertisements.
When an internet user enters a keyword or keyword phrase and your website appears in the listings, then your website has generated an impression. If the user clicks on the link to your website, this is considered a Click Through.
When it comes to PPC advertisements, the term CTR refers to the number of times an ad is clicked on as a percentage of the number of times it appears (impressions). CTR allows you to assess:
- Which of your online ads are being clicked on the most often
- Which of your online ads is generating the most revenue based on the conversions
- The success of your online advertising campaign
- The effectiveness of your ads’ SEO
CTR is mainly used for ads that appear on search engines. However, ads in social media platforms and other websites also have their CTRs measured.
How it all started
There is a lot of discussion as to the importance of CTR as a metric in measuring the success of an SEO campaign. There have been various studies and surveys to determine the effect of CTR on organic search ranking especially. A study carried out by Moz in 2014 confirmed that an increase in CTR had a direct positive impact on organic search ranking. One website’s ranking was seen to rise from rank seven after the use of crowdsourcing clicks.
The problem with the above study however, is that it failed to take into account other influences that may affect ranking such as improving the quality of the content on the website. Further experiments have shown that CTR by itself does not influence ranking. However, it still remains an important metric in SEO.
Understanding how important CTR is for SEO
In the past, measuring CTR for SEO was nearly impossible. However, with the help of Google, it is now possible to measure CTR for your SEO campaigns. CTR remains an important metric to keep track of for SEO for the following reasons.
- Keep track of searcher votes
One of the most important factors considered by Google and other search engines in assigning ranking to websites is the number of inbound links. A large number of quality inbound links will result in higher ranking for your website with a particular keyword.
However, inbound links combined with searcher votes can catapult your website to the top of the rankings. Google also checks on searcher votes in assigning ranking. These are obtained when searchers click on your link when it appears on search result listings.
- Helps in analyzing user intent
CTR helps you analyze the behavior of people who are clicking on links to your website and adjust your SEO campaign accordingly. You can assess the keywords or keyword phrases you’re using and determine which are driving higher conversion. You can then adjust your campaign to place more emphasis on those elements that are driving better results and get rid of those that aren’t. This improves your return on investment as it eliminates waste.
- Justify high ranking
While CTR by itself does not have direct influence on search results ranking, it does ensure that Google and other search engines do not push your website down the ranking ladder. It would not count for much if your website managed to gain the number one ranking on search results pages but didn’t have enough clicks. It would likely experience a fall in ranking as a result of poor click through rate. This would not be ideal for any SEO campaign.
This point was made by Edmond Lau who previously worked at Google as part of its search quality team. Although Google has not admitted to this directly, there’s no reason not to take a former member’s word on it.
What CTR is not
Many people new to SEO and the many metrics used to measure the success of campaigns use CTR incorrectly and wonder why their SEO campaigns fail to improve. If you’re in this category, it’s important to remember the following.
- CTR is not a means of measuring or estimating conversion. The fact that an internet user clicked on your links does not automatically mean that they will convert. CTR can therefore not replace conversion rate as a measure of the success of your SEO campaign.
- CTR cannot provide information on the quality of the visitor. The metric only gives information on the number of clicks on a link. Information about the type of user is not considered in calculating the CTR.
- CTR results can also include bad, accidental or malicious clicks. Not every click on a link is therefore the result of a person who was interested in what you have to offer.
How to Improve CTR
There are various channels that you can use to further your digital marketing strategy. However, SEO still continues to be one of the most effective ways to improve your conversion rates. Your CTR for organic search results can be affected by a wide variety of elements. The following are tips on how you can improve your CTR.
- Improve your ranking
While being listed on the first page of the search results is important, there is still a big difference between ranking number one and ranking number seven on a page one. Web users usually look at the first five results on the page. Striving to ensure that your organic rankings are higher up on the results pages is vital to improving your CTRs.
One of the best ways of improving your ranking on search results pages is by providing content that is information based. Listings for searches on information are less cluttered. You will have a better chance when it comes to attracting the attention of users and their clicks.
- Improve your title tags
Title tags go a long way in defining the content on your web page to users. The title of the page influences whether the user clicks on the link or not. You can improve your title tags by:
- Including a keyword in the title tag. Ensure that the keyword is positioned as close to the front as possible to boost your ranking.
- Keep the title tag shorter than 65 characters long to avoid it being truncated by Google.
- Use title tags that draw curiosity or emotion.
- Improve your Meta descriptions
After a user looks at the title tag and is drawn in, they will read the Meta description to get a better idea of the type of content that’s on the website. While Meta descriptions do not have a direct impact on search rankings, they will influence CTR. You can improve your Meta descriptions by:
- Include the keyword in the description and ensure that it is no longer than 160 words in total to avoid being truncated by Google.
- Ensuring that it is relevant to the season, offer or information that the user is looking for.
- Including a call-to-action.
- Leverage rich snippets
The introduction of Google’s rich snippet markup enables users to get more information when they make specific queries. Website owners are able to include specific HTML markups to web pages. These mark ups allow search engines to pick up on specific elements within the page that can be displayed as part of the search results listings.
These snippets can help you increase your CTR by drawing the attention of the searcher. Select applicable pages and mark up any relevant elements. Be sure to test the markup of each page using a data testing tool such as that provided by Google.
Click through rate is still a useful metric. Although it may not help you improve your ranking on search engine results pages, improving your CTR can help you increase your earnings from organic traffic. Understanding the role that CTR plays in your SEO campaign will help you approach it correctly and prevent you from wasting time and resources on strategies that don’t work.