You’ve built your content, sent it out into the world, and you’re proud of the work. There’s just one problem.
You’re still not getting the hits you want.
If you’ve spent five minutes in the world of digital marketing, you’ve probably heard of CTR. You’ve heard numbers tossed around, but you haven’t given your own CTR much thought. And that’s a critical mistake.
You see, your CTR isn’t just a number. It’s a major performance metric that tells you how well you’re engaging your customers and how well your work is translating into your bottom line.
And if you’re like most companies, you could stand to do way better with your CTR.
Here’s what you need to know to increase your click through rate for more traffic and, more importantly, more sales.
What is CTR?
Your click through rate, or CTR, is a ratio that shows how often people who see your ad click through it to your site. It tells you how well your keywords and ads are performing.
Your CTR isn’t a single number, it’s a percentage. To get your CTR, divide the number of clicks your ad receives by the number of times your ad is shown (or, in plain English, clicks / impressions = CTR).
This is a more important number than you think, especially when it comes to PPC. You see, your CTR translates directly to your bottom line because advertisers typically pay publishers for every ad click.
So on the one hand, a higher CTR is more expensive (good news for your publisher). But, on the other hand, a higher CTR means you’re more likely to convert leads (good news for you). Either way, everyone is happy with a high CTR.
What’s a Good CTR?
That begs the question: what is a good CTR?
Well, that depends.
It depends on the platform and the industry…and who’s considering the metric of a “good” CTR.
As an example, let’s compare Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.
Across all industries, the average CTR for Google AdWords is 3.17% for search and 0.46% for display. The range runs from 6.05% (dating and personals) to 2.09% (technology).
In Facebook Ads, the average CTR across all industries is much lower: just 0.90%, with legal advertisers showing the highest CTR (1.61%) and employment advertisers showing the lowest (0.47%).
So if you’re trying to figure out a good CTR for your own company, the best place to start is to look at your own industry’s performance in your current advertising spaces. This will give you a benchmark.
You should also keep in mind that your stiffest competition should be yourself. Focus on beating your own CTR, not the industry CTR or your next best competitor’s CTR (although that’s also a worthwhile goal).
Why It’s a Powerful Metric
But regardless of the exact number you use, your CTR is a powerful metric for your success.
Think of it this way.
If more people are clicking on your ad, then there’s something about that ad that’s engaging them. If those visitors later convert into paying customers, then you know you’re hitting the right audience at the right moment in their buying cycle.
Plus, if your CTR is high, then the overall cost per click is lower–great news for your bottom line.
Keep in mind, though, that CTR is most powerful when taken in tandem with other key performance indicators (KPIs).
Let’s say, for example, that your site has a high CTR and a low conversion rate. That tells you something important: you’re not reaching the right audience. Maybe your target is too broad, maybe the ad message isn’t aligned with your landing page, maybe you’re hitting buyers at the wrong stage of their purchasing cycle.
Either way, it’s a clear sign that you need to revisit (and re-up) your advertising game.
…Isn’t It Easy to Game?
Now, if you have your ear to the grapevine in the SEO world, you may have heard some chatter. Specifically, you may have heard that CTR is too easy to game to be worth considering as a worthwhile ranking factor.
This particular experiment came from Search Engine Land, which concluded that CTR isn’t a ranking factor. The problem is that the test relied on bots to artificially inflate CTRS and search volume while only measuring results for a single two-word keyword (negative SEO).
If you remember your school science class, you can probably spot the experimental flaws here.
Basically, the test was the organic search equivalent of click fraud, so it’s not actually an accurate assessment of how CTR affects your SEO performance.
Keep in mind that Google has been fighting click fraud for 15 years. It’s not too hard for them to apply what they’ve learned in those 15 years to organic search, which means that if you try a click fraud scheme like this, you’re going to rank poorly. There are plenty of ways for them to catch odd or unnatural click patterns.
Knowing that, you can determine the importance of CTR by looking at how Google tests RankBrain on searches that have little or no data. The problem is that the vast majority of pages have zero (or no) external links pointing to them.
Google ranks these pages using two things:
What’s the easiest way to show both engagement and relevance?
Ready to dig in and do the work yet?
Find Your Average CTR
In order to boost your CTR (and, in turn, your sales) you first need to know your current CTR. Otherwise, you won’t have any kind of benchmark for success.
Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do if you’re already using Google Search Console.
Start by opening Google Search Console. Then, click on Search Analytics.
Then, check the box marked CTR. This will show you your CTR performance for your current keywords.
Keep in mind that the CTR for branded search queries is usually high, while the CTR for generic search terms is much lower (especially if you’re in a competitive market).
This is for a simple reason–if people are clicking on branded ads, that’s often because they already know your brand and want to find out more about whatever deal you’re promoting through the ad. These customers are likely to convert (great news for you!)
The trick, of course, is getting new customers. And since generic keywords have a weaker CTR, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
So, take a deep breath. Take a look at your CTR. Write it down in a bright red marker and the date you checked and stick it on the wall where you can see it. This is your starting point.
How to Increase Your Click Through Rate
The good news is that you have all kinds of easy ways to improve your CTR. The trick is being thorough–and consistent.
You see, your CTR isn’t reliant on a single factor. Customers come to you for any number of reasons. So, you want to make sure that you can catch them regardless of where they are and why they’re looking.
Here are a few places that your site can improve your performance, wow your customers, and build your revenue.
First things first: let’s grab their attention.
The best place to do that is front and center stage: your headlines.
Think about it. The first place a potential customer sees your content through a search engine is through a list of search results. Searchers are a lot like wild animals–they’re on the prowl for the best meal (or, rather, the most useful information) and they want to get that information with the least amount of effort.
So, when they look at search results, they’re not actually reading them. They’re scanning the titles to spot the most relevant result. On average, eight out of ten people will read headline content, but only if that content is compelling.
Now is your time to shine.
The best place to figure out what’s compelling is…well, other compelling, viral headlines. For that, head to Buzzsumo and type in your keyword.
For the sake of argument, let’s say your keyword is CTR. Drop that into Buzzsumo and see what’s happening. What titles are at the top? What do they have in common? What makes them intriguing to the search connoisseur?
From there, use the winners as a template to craft your own headlines. Feel free to get creative.
However creative you get, always make sure that your headlines are three things:
- Appealing to the user
Why? It’s simple: Google is in the business of serving its customers (i.e. searchers). So they’re in the business of giving their customers the most relevant, natural, and appealing search results.
Prioritize Weak Pages
Got your headlines down to a science?
Great, now let’s do something a bit less fun: your weak pages.
As the old adage goes, a team is only as strong as its weakest player. Similarly, your site is only as strong as your weakest pages. So, you should focus on rescuing those pages that are in serious danger of falling out of the SERPs and into Neverland.
Fortunately, Google Search Console is here to help with that.
Go back to your trusty Console and search for Queries to Pages. Check Impressions, CTR, and Position, scroll to the bottom, and download the report. From there, you can use Excel to filter out only the pages that have the lowest performance numbers and charting those against your average CTR.
If they fall below the average, they’re on your priority list. The farther they are from the average, the higher priority they are. Don’t be afraid to be vicious in revamping your pages–it’s all for the good of your site.
And once you’ve worked out some of your aggressions on your weakest pages, make sure to revisit this practice periodically. Think every few months or so. This will help ensure that your weakest pages never fall too far behind your average CTR.
Analyze Your Strongest Pages
Before you go to town on your weakest pages, though, you should first understand what separates the weakest pages from the rest.
And for that, you need to look at your strongest pages.
This is pretty straightforward–do the same thing you did to winnow out your weakest pages. But this time, narrow down your pages to only those that are performing above your average CTR. The highest performers should be your biggest focus.
Turn a critical eye to these pages. Spend some time really working on what separates them from the crowd.
But in order to make sure it’s a fair fight, make sure you’re not comparing apples and oranges. Only compare product pages against other product pages, blogs against other blogs, etc. etc. That way, you can be sure to get an accurate reading of what’s working and what’s not.
Alternately, if you notice that a particular group of pages is performing poorly compared to the rest, you may want to spend more time investigating why that is. It could be a natural consequence of SEO, or it could be a deeper miscalculation on your part. You won’t know until you check.
Compare Mobile and Desktop Performance
And while you’re comparing, make sure to compare mobile and desktop performance.
Listen. If you’ve been in marketing for a while, you’re probably used to optimizing for computers. The problem is that most users don’t search on computers anymore. In fact, nearly 60% of searches now occur on mobile devices. Google has even done a Mobile-First update, so if you’re neglecting mobile, it’s time to leave the Stone Ages.
Fortunately, Google provides you the tools to do that. Yes, it’s your old friend Google Search Console.
Rev up your Search Console again. This time, browse under devices–this will give you a rundown of your mobile CTR performance.
Don’t be afraid of the dropdown menu, either–this will allow you to compare your CTR across various devices and run separate queries to figure out why certain pages are weaker than their siblings.
In case you haven’t noticed yet, your keywords play a big role in how your CTR comes through.
So, it’s about time to have an honest discussion about your keywords.
First, let’s take a look at your keyword and ad relationship. Pretty important, since your keywords of choice determine what searches your ad pops up for.
Take a look at your keywords. If you’ve got a clump of them that are sort of maybe kind of relevant you guess, you’re wrong.
To be crystal clear on this: acronyms, synonyms, and abbreviations for the same thing won’t do you a lick of good.
Because if you’re selling “boho cushions” and someone searches “boho pillows” and your ad says “Free-Spirited Boho Cushions”, they’re going to click the ad that says, “Flowery Boho Pillows”.
Why? It’s simple: the second ad has the actual search query in it.
Instead, put unique keywords in their own unique, relevant ad groups.
Now that that’s done, let’s take a look at something you probably overlook: your URLs.
You probably disregard your URLs most of the time. After all, who reads the URL, right? What value does that have?
First: in limited ad space, that URL is valuable real estate. Second: when you’ve got limited real estate, you’d best use all the land you can get.
You see, the URL is technically part of your ad space. The problem is that most advertisers don’t treat it that way. Don’t be most advertisers.
Instead of leaving it blank or shoehorning in the name of your business, try to work your keyword into the URL instead.
Why? One word: relevance.
Search engines use a number of factors to determine the relevance of an ad. Why would you put yourself at a disadvantage when you could just as easily give yourself a leg up?
Don’t Forget Negative Keywords!
Finally, whatever you do, don’t forget your negative keywords!
Whereas regular keywords allow you to bring in certain searches, negative keywords allow you to exclude search terms from your campaign.
You’re probably wondering: if the goal is to get more traffic, why would you want to exclude searches?
One word: relevance.
Negative keywords help you filter out the noise. There are a lot of searches that could be relevant to you but aren’t actually relevant. And while you might want searchers to click through, it doesn’t do you any good if those searchers don’t convert when they’re on your site. If they don’t convert, you’ve paid for a click that didn’t turn into anything.
So instead, save everyone the trouble and filter out negative keywords. Your future customers will thank you for going to the trouble.
Check Your Schema…
Schema markup is a beautiful invention of the Internet.
Essentially, schema markup is code that tells a search engine what your data means, rather than just what it says. It helps a search engine categorize information more accurately and, as a consequence, rank your better.
You don’t even need coding skills to do it. Just use Schema.org, enter your information, and plug in the resulting code.
What you probably didn’t realize is that your schema can have an impact on your CTR.
Once you stop and think about it, it’s actually quite obvious. Schema markup allows search engines to categorize you more accurately. If you’re categorized accurately, your ads are more likely to attract relevant searches–which, in turn, help boost your click through rate.
So if you want to improve your CTR, one of the easiest ways to do it is to make sure your schema markup is still working.
To do this, go back to Google Search Console, head to Search Analytics, then click the drop down under Search Appearance and choose Rich Results. This will give you a list of all your schema for all your site’s pages. Take a look at each of them and make sure nothing has changed due to site updates.
If anything has changed in the meantime, make sure to get fresh schema markup that does work. Otherwise, you’re giving yourself an unnecessary disadvantage.
…And Your Competition
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out your competition as well.
Much like researching your best and worst pages can give you an idea of where you’re coming up short, researching your closest competitors can give you an idea of how they’re doing–and more importantly, what they’re doing right that you can learn from.
For example, take a look at their title tags, URLs, and meta descriptions. Do they use the keyword in each and offer a clear, actionable solution? What about your title tags, URLs, and meta descriptions?
If you’re falling short, use this as a learning opportunity to make up the gap.
Need to Boost Your CTR?
You know what your CTR is. You know how it works. And now, you know how to boost it.
If you still need a bit of help, no worries. We’ve got your back.
We know that SEO gets you seen. So we don’t settle for better SEO. We aim to get your ROI 7x better or higher.
If you need more guidance to get your SEO in order, check out our blog for more useful tips, like this post on the 10 SEO mistakes you don’t realize you’re making.
Or, if you’re ready to take the plunge and take control of your digital marketing, we can help with that too. Use our contact page to get in touch and find out how we can help you stay one step ahead of the competition.