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Improving Click-Through Rates in Google Search Results

Semi-Technical Strategies for Web Designers, SEOs, and Savvy Business Owners

Posted in: Search

Business owners invest a lot of time, money, and effort to move their websites higher in search results, but rarely focus on making their page more clickable than the competition. Increasing the rate at which people click on your website can actually help preserve rankings. Click-through rate (CTR) is one of the many factors Google uses to determine how relevant your website is to whatever that user searched for.

Reevaluating Titles, Metas, and Content

Looking at your site from the eyes of a searcher can be a beneficial exercise. Low click-through rates may be costing you a considerable amount of free organic traffic.

We often assume Google will put our best foot forward, but making sure that is the case is necessary recurring task.

Step 1: Search for your most popular products or services and take a look at what appears in search results

Are the pages appearing in results the best place to take users? Do their URLs make sense for the query? If unsuitable pages (such as blog archives) are showing up, it is time to take action to correct that. Users may notice that the page showing up in results doesn’t specifically relate to their query and move on.

Consider reviewing how keywords are utilized within the pages you would prefer to see ranking. In certain scenarios it may even make sense to “de-index” archive pages or outdated content, but do so with caution.

Another tactic that can guide Google toward the correct page is by adding internal links. Start linking between pages on relevant keywords: Doing this can help Google understand which page best addresses that concept, plus it makes the site more navigable for users.

Here’s an example, using a pet supply store’s hierarchal site structure:

Google Search:
Dog bowls
Page 1:

Home › Products › Dogs

Clothing, Leashes & Bowls for Dogs

Clothing & Outfits

Leashes

Bowls

This page may naturally get more traffic from the homepage and start to rank higher for “dog bowls.” However, it isn’t a great place for people to land because it begins with other products and contains an incomplete assortment of bowls. A better place for searchers to land would be the dedicated page about what they searched for.

Quick tips to fix this: Add a few links within this page (and others) on anchor terms like “dog bowls” and “bowls for dogs.” Pointing those links to the dog bowls page will help sway that page into favor for related search queries.

Page 2:

Home › Products › Dogs › Bowls

Ceramic, Stainless Steel, and Acrylic Bowls

Ceramic Bowls

Stainless Steel Bowls

Acrylic Bowls

To a person, this page seems like an obvious and logical place for Google to send searchers, but it needs some SEO to make that happen. Notice how “dog bowls” is at the end of the page title and isn’t included in any of the headings.

Opportunities for Improvement: Consider prepending “Dog” or appending “for Dogs” to each heading. Make sure the titles under each product thumbnail contain a relevant keyword. Utilize more canine-specific verbiage in the written content and add a few descriptive paragraphs below the products. Rewrite the page title to include more keyword-driven phrasing such as “Dog Bowls: Ceramic, Stainless Steel, and Acrylic Bowls for Puppies and Mature Dogs.”

Step 2: Improve the look of your page as a search result

  1. One of the most noticeable things you can do is add a favicon. As a search result, we have such little space to work with and a crisp logo can help legitimize your site and call attention to it. Note that Google may or may not show it depending on device, type of query, etc.
  2. Also take a moment to refresh your title tags. To stay relevant and clickable, they should contain keywords, synonyms, and variations. Your titles also might benefit from a reorganization: Move the most important terms to the front.
  3. Use schema markup in all of your site content. This can help Google show more relevant breadcrumbs (page hierarchy) and occasionally, you’ll earn a “FAQ” section below your site’s description. Sometimes you’ll even get review stars and a rating count below your meta description. SERP features like that can be eye-catching and boost CTR.
  4. The meta description is considered “old school SEO” because it is so often rewritten by Google, but it’s still worth writing one out for each page. About 30% of the time it is still delivered to the user unaltered, plus you’re giving Google a framework from which they can start their customization. Chunks of your hand-written meta will still appear in algorithm-driven snippets. Always include a brief call to action and try to use a persuasive concept such as “offering 24 hour service” or “with free shipping to the lower 48.”
  5. Make sure your URLs are descriptive and hyphenated. They should not contain unrelated technical things like “page,” “index,” “aspx,” or randomly generated numbers.

Consider which of these two search results you would click on:

Google Search:
Designer shoe deals
Needs improvement:
title tag example
Highly Clickable:
title tag example

Step 3: Look for opportunities to build out additional content

Adding new and highly-specific content pages can provide better results for certain queries and earn a better CTR. Searchers are more likely to click through to a page that is dedicated to their specific intent than a generic categorical page. Answering “long tail” searches with new content can increase both your overall search traffic and the rate at which your pages get clicked on.

Some site owners worry about having too much content, but as long as you can keep it updated (or write pages that are evergreen), there is typically no limit to how many pages a site can have. Be sure to link between new and old pages. Also make sure every page being added serves a purpose and won’t be redundant to a user coming from a similar page on your site.

One great way to add new pages without cluttering up your navigation menus is to publish a blog or FAQ section. Use each publication as an opportunity to directly address a common question or discuss something at length that is abbreviated elsewhere on your site. Blog posts and FAQs can be linked to within related pages and should always link back to relevant top-level content.

In this example, the college website needs additional content pages:

Google Search:
Online only MBA degrees
Current page serving that query:

Home › Programs › Graduate

Masters Degrees, MBAs, and PhDs | On Campus, Hybrid & Online

Degrees offered in technology management, business management, computer & information science, network & computer security, nursing, nursing education, psychiatric mental health, nanoscale engineering, medicine and nanoscale science, transformational leadership…

This page may rank well, but it’s not enticing to click on. The user can’t tell by the title or description that the organization offers what they are looking for.

New page to launch:

Home › Programs › Graduate › Online MBA

Our AACSB-Accredited MBA: 100% Online Master of Business Administration

The Master of Business Administration is an entirely online curriculum of 48 total credit hours. Specializations include accounting & finance, marketing management, and business management. GRE & GMAT scores not required. Apply online today!

This page is specific enough that the title and description directly relate to the user’s query. Those elements also include valuable details about accreditation, prerequisites, and the application process. The new page will be much more likely to get clicked on.

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