Sometimes your click-through rates (CTR) just get stuck and stubbornly refuse to move.
Improving your CTR is key as it means increased traffic for your website and more readers for your content. It will also have a beneficial effect on your rankings, as CTR is one of the factors Google considers.
Here are four easy-to-implement strategies you can use to get your CTR moving in the right direction:
- Write attractive title tags
- Create irresistible meta descriptions
- Optimize for featured snippets
- Use Schema.org markup
1. Write attractive title tags
One of the most important elements of your website for SEO is your title tag. This is the text that appears on the search engine results pages (SERPs), and it should be designed to attract clicks.
Your title tag should be clear, concise, and descriptive, accurately reflecting the content of your page so users know what they're clicking on.
Google changed the way it generates titles in web results last year and it may rewrite your title tag if it considers it to be poor quality.
An Ahrefs study carried out after Google's changes, which looked at over 900K pages ranking in the top 10, found that Google rewrote title tags 33.4% of the time.
Examples from Google of poorly written title tags include those that are:
- Too long
- Stuffed with keywords, in the mistaken belief this improves rankings
- Contain no text or boilerplate text. For example, a home page might be called “Home”
Here are the top points to remember in order to craft attractive, effective title tags - and to make sure they don’t get rewritten:
- Keep it around 60 characters
- Use relevant keywords
- Write for humans first
- Use strong verbs
- Use numbers
- Use emotional adjectives
- Add your brand name
Keep it around 60 characters
Google doesn't actually specify the limit for a title tag, but it will truncate it if it's too long. SEOs have long tried to come up with a rule of thumb based on what Google shows, and this is generally somewhere between 50-70 characters. Technically there is a pixel limit, so you may go over or under the limit depending on whether you're using lots of wide or slim characters.
The Ahrefs study mentioned above found that Google was more likely to rewrite titles that are too long.
Use relevant keywords
Including relevant keywords in your title tag is important for SEO purposes. These are the terms you are targeting for your page, so it helps the page’s ability to rank. However, don’t overdo the keywords. Use one or two and make sure your title doesn't sound repetitive or unnatural. It should portray accurately what a user will find when clicking on the result.
Write for humans first
When writing your title tag, always keep your human readers in mind first.
Write something that's both SEO-friendly and appealing to users. It should read naturally and be descriptive so users can feel confident in what they will get from the result.
Use strong verbs
Using strong verbs can make your titles more clickable.
Words like "boost," "improve," "discover," and "uncover" tend to perform well.
People are more likely to click on titles that include numbers because they're specific and can convey a lot of information quickly.
Research shows that headlines with a number tend to create more engagement: 73% more social shares and engagement, and 36% of readers preferring headlines containing a number.
For example, "21 YouTube SEO Tools to Boost Your Video Rankings" is more likely to get clicked on than "YouTube SEO Tools List."
Use emotional adjectives
Adjectives like "amazing," "incredible," and "essential" can make your title more clickable.
However, be careful not to overdo it as too many adjectives can make your title sound spammy.
Add your brand name
It’s a good idea to add your brand name to your title tag. If you have a strong brand, it provides immediate recognition, building trust for the user and so can help boost your CTR.
2. Create irresistible meta descriptions
Your meta description is the short piece of text that appears beneath your title tag on the SERPs. This is another important element for SEO, as it provides a description of your page to the user and can help improve your CTR.
Your meta description is your chance to draw the user in to click on your site. Make sure it’s an accurate description of what they will find.
A good meta description should be clear, concise, and persuasive. It should give a good summary of the page, giving users a taste of what they can expect and making them want to click through to learn more.
In fact, 43% of users will click on a given result, based only on what they read in the meta description.
Again, Google will replace a description it considers inadequate with snippets taken from the page content which it considers more accurate or a better response to the search.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing your meta descriptions:
- Keep it under 155 characters
- Add your keywords
- Write compelling copy
- Include your page's main benefit
- Make it user-friendly
- Use power words
Keep it under 155 characters
You want to make sure your entire meta description appears on the SERPs. Just as with title tags, Google doesn't set a limit but accepted best practice is to keep it under 155 characters, while making sure it's an accurate description and proper summary of the page.
Add your keywords
Meta descriptions are another place to include relevant keywords for SEO purposes.
However, as with title tags, you should only use one or two so that it doesn't sound repetitive.
Write compelling copy
Your meta description should be designed to persuade users to click through to your website.
To do this, you need to write strong, compelling copy to persuade readers of the value they will get when they click through.
Include your page's main benefit
Your meta description should also include the main benefit of your page.
What value will users get by clicking through? Will they learn how to do something, or find a relevant product? Make sure this is clear.
Make it user-friendly
When writing your meta description, always keep the user experience in mind. Write something that's easy to read and understand, and above all is written for humans rather than any algorithm.
Use power words
Power words are emotional words that can make your meta description more persuasive.
Some examples of power words include "amazing," "incredible," and "essential".
3. Optimize for featured snippets
Featured snippets are the boxes that appear at the top of the SERPs when you search for certain keywords. They usually contain a brief answer to your question, along with a link to a relevant result.
What does this mean for you?
It means that getting your website featured in a featured snippet can be a great way to increase your organic CTR. After all, users are more likely to click on something that's already been given to them as an answer.
Here are some tips for optimizing your website for featured snippets:
- Make sure your content is relevant and useful
- Optimize page structure
- Include images with relevant alt text
- Answer questions that “People also ask”
- Match search intent
- Write organized lists
Make sure your content is relevant and useful
The most important thing you can do to get your website featured in a featured snippet is to create relevant and useful content. Your content should be well-researched and accurately answer the user's question.
Optimize page structure
The way you structure your content can also impact your chances of being featured in a featured snippet.
For example, using headings and subheadings can help Google understand the hierarchy of your content.
Include images with relevant alt text
Images can also help your website get featured in a featured snippet. When adding images to your content, make sure to include relevant alt text so that Google knows what they're about.
Alt text is also important for accessibility as it provides a description of the image for people with visual impairments who are using a screen reader.
Answer questions that "People also ask"
A good way to optimize for featured snippets is to provide answers for questions you know people are asking. There are many ways you can find out this information.Google often shows a "People also ask" section. These are questions related to the original query, and they provide another opportunity for your site to be featured.
Match search intent
When creating content, it's also important to match the search intent of the user. In other words, you should create content that meets the user's needs at that particular stage in their journey.
There are four main types of search intent: navigational, informational, commercial, and transactional. Make sure you have content targeted towards each type of search intent as the customer moves through their buyer journey.
Write organized lists
Organized lists are often shown in featured snippets, so including them in your content can help you appear.
When writing a list, make sure to use clear and concise language. You should also use proper grammar and punctuation.
4. Use Schema.org Markup
Schema.org markup is standardized format that you can add to your website to help search engines understand your content. It's used to provide information about a page and classify the content.
Adding schema markup to your website can be a great way to increase your CTR because it allows you to provide additional information about your site that can be displayed in the search results.
For example, let's say you have a blog post about SEO tactics. You could use schema markup to provide information about the author, publish date, and topic of the article. This extra information can help your post stand out from the rest and increase clicks.
Here's an example of what schema markup looks like for this page on chicken recipes:
As you can see, schema markup simply provides additional information about your content, such as reviews, sample recipes. The code is not visible to users, but it can be a valuable addition to your website.
Adding schema markup is fairly simple. You can either add it manually or use a plugin like Yoast SEO to do it for you.
Google supports many different types of Schema markup including FAQ, how-to, local business, movie, podcast product, book - to name just a few.
Check out the full list and how to get started with each on Google’s Search Gallery page.
Google recommends these free tools to test your structured data: the Rich Results Test tool and the Schema Markup Validator.
We’ve looked at four tactics you can use if you’re trying to increase your CTR.
They're not difficult to implement, and while not all may be applicable to your website, working on just one or two may make a big difference to your website.
So it's time to get going. Start increasing those organic clicks today and get those stubborn click-through rates moving!