Finding opportunities to boost click through rate from Google

Get more traffic from Google by improving page Titles and Meta Descriptions


Since seeing Larry Kim and Brian Dean's excellent Infographic on boosting organic click through rates from organic search results, I have been spending a lot of time analysing, working, and re-working Titles and Meta Descriptions.

Firstly though what are click through rates, and why are they important?

Taken from Wikipedia : "Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page".

In our case when referring to Google, CTR is the ratio of users who click on a link in the search results to the number of impressions it has.

If a query you are targetting has a good CTR from the search results, it would indicate to Google that your page looks like it helps the person doing the search with what they intended to find (bounce rate and time spent on page are two other potential indicators for this).

As Larry and Brian talk about in their Infographic - although not confirmed, CTR is suspected by many to be a leading input to Googles machine learning component of ranking search results called Rank Brain. There is likely to be quite a few different inputs to Rank Brain - but if we can improve our Click Through Rates to not only get more traffic, but also to boost rankings generally - this is the kind of gift that keeps giving.

Spending a lot of time testing page Titles and Meta Description to see if CTR's can be improved is one of the reasons I decided to build SanityCheck to help speed the process along. There are 3 steps I use it for:

  1. Identify pages that have a low CTR that are worth while improving.
  2. Check the keywords the page is appearing in the search results for.
  3. Try improving the Titles and Meta Descriptions - and creating a test.

Doing these steps previously required a lot of clicking around Google Search Console and tracking results in Excel. Certainly do-able, but if you are running a site of any decent size, or multiple sites - it was important to me to find an easier way.

So lets go through the steps one by one, and see how SanityCheck can help.

Identify Opportunities

We are looking for pages that get a decent number of impressions in the search results, but a low number of clicks - ie a low Click Through Rate (ctr). To see these pages click on "...improve the CTR of a page" on the main SanityCheck dashboard.

In the CTR Opportunity Report we have 2 different ways of surfacing the pages to try and improve.

Click through rate opportunity report filters

The first option is to display the urls that have a CTR that is below the sites average.

The second option is to use the 80/20 rule (Pareto's Principle). In many websites, the top 20% of pages bring in 80% of the traffic. If we remove the top 20% of urls, the rest are the potential CTR opportunities.

Both filter options order the results initially by impressions, with the theory being improving the CTR of the top results will give the best return for effort.

Check the Keywords

Upon getting a list of page opportunities - it is worth checking what queries the page is being displayed for. In the 'Page Opps' screen, you can click the url to see what people are searching for when your page is returned.

It is worth checking these keywords to make sure they match the keywords you are targeting the page at. It could be that the page is being returned for a query that does not match the searchers intent. You have 4 options if this happens:

  1. Create a new page that targets these queries - it is quite likely your new page will rank well for them.
  2. Re-write your existing page to be focused around content to do with these keywords, and change the Title and Meta Description as well.
  3. Leave this page alone (although you probably want to fix it long term).
  4. Assuming the page is being returned for the queries you expect - you can then work on the Title and Meta Description.

From looking at the image above it looks like it would make more sense to target the Title and Meta Description around "vouchers" rather than "discount" or "offers".

Fix the Title and MetaDescription

Larry Kim and Brian Deans Infographic has a lot of guidance on how to make your Title and MetaDescription more attractive to clicks. Check out steps 3 - 7.

General guidance is the Title should be no more than 55 characters long, and the Meta Description no more than 156 characters.

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