SEO Best Practices: Increase Click-Through Rate From SERPs

July 31, 2017

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This article was written by Jack Saville, SEO Specialist at Bynder, a digital asset management vendor.

So you have created a great piece of content, and it is ranking happily at the bottom of page 1 on Google for your target term. But as the majority of searchers click on results 1 to 5, you want to climb higher to claim that sweeter peace of the pie.

You are rapidly link building and doing everything you can to increase the ranking of your page but you are still rooted to the bottom of page 1.

So what else can you do?

By increasing the number of people who click on your search result, you demonstrate to Google that your result is the one that best answers the search. Click-through rate (CTR) from the search engine results pages (SERPs) is a significant ranking factor, and as you increase your CTR, your ranking may increase too.

But how can you increase the CTR of your search result?

Compare Your Result to Others Around You

The first thing to do is to look at the relevant SERP and compare the look of your result to the results around you. Would you click on your result? What would you need to see in your result that would make you instantly decide that your result is the right one to click?

While reflecting on this, we will look at the different factors that make up your search engine result, and identify how we can optimize each one.

Check your title tag. Your title needs to demonstrate the gist of the page in the first few words. You can use the leftover space to describe the page more fully.

Be sure to stay within the character limit (55 to 60 characters); a title that goes over may confuse the searcher, especially if important main keywords are over the character limit and therefore not present in the search result.

Try to avoid using calls-to-action in your title, or spammy words and repeated exclamation marks, since this may alarm searchers and discourage them from clicking on your result.

See also: 6 Ways Review Signals Help Improve Your SEO

Optimize your URL. This is quite a simple one. Make sure the URL briefly explains the page using the appropriate keywords, in as few words as possible. Avoid using dynamic URLs, as these are impossible to understand and may confuse the user.

Write an engaging meta description. The meta description is where you can write engaging copy and try to get people to click. Google does not take into account the words you use in the meta description in terms of keyword ranking, so you don’t need to worry about including a load of targeted keywords.

However, you should still include the keywords that are relevant to the page, to demonstrate to the searcher that the result is relevant to the search.

One cool trick here is to use the abbreviated version of your keyword (if there is one) to save character space, which can then be filled up with other enticing language. For example, if you want to rank for “digital asset management” then you can use the abbreviation “DAM” instead.

The maximum a meta description should be is 160 characters, so try and get close to this number to ensure that you take up as much space as possible on the SERP with your result.

Additionally, try and include a call-to-action in the meta description to encourage users to click. This could be “Click here to learn more about bananas.” Or if you are low on character space “Learn more about Bananas.”

How Google is Changing the Meta Description

One increasing trend is for Google to ignore the meta description that you provide and to use a snippet from the text instead.

The advantage of this is that Google will scan your page and try and match the search query in your text. In this way, the meta description is personalized to the search of the user, making your result more inviting regardless of the search.

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However, there are still ways to exert some control over the meta description that Google chooses.

  • First, think about the main keywords and phrases that your page needs to target. For example, let’s take the keyword “sales management.”
  • State somewhere near the top of the page, ‘“Sales management is….” Google seems to look for the search term followed by the word “is” as this suggests that the next part of the sentence will be an explanation of the term. Google then uses that as the meta description.
  • This tactic can be repeated for as many keywords as you want to target with the one page.
  • If you are struggling to write all these “is” statements in a natural way, consider including a Summary at the top of the page, where you detail the main parts of the content and include the necessary explanations.
  • You can also achieve the same thing with a Glossary section near the end of the page. However, from experience, Google seems to pick the first “is” statement that it finds on the page for meta descriptions. Therefore the further up the page you include you targeted “is” statement, the more likely it is to be used.
  • Make the explanation clear, and do not include CTA text, as it obviously will not make sense on the page itself.

Get into Google Answer Boxes (Why This is Important for CTR)

See whether or not the SERP of your target keyword includes a featured snippet or answer box.

While there is no concrete research yet on the specific CTR of Google Answer Box results, position 1 results can get up to 30 percent of clicks. So the answer box sitting in “position 0” may get an even greater share of clicks.

There are no hard and fast rules for getting into Google Answer Boxes, but research by Stat suggests that there are some ways you can format your content to increase the chances of appearing in an Answer Box.

According to recent research by Stat:

  • 63 percent of Answer Boxes include content in a paragraph. This means using correct paragraph HTML tags.
  • 19 percent of Answer Boxes include list content, which means using the correct list HTML code.
  • Finally, 16 percent of answer boxes include HTML tables.

It is worth keeping all this in mind when creating content. If you already have a page you want to rank, think about where you could reformat some existing content into a list or table format.

To Sum Up

The tips above should help you maximize the number of searchers clicking on your result. Once searchers demonstrate to Google that your result is the best at answering the query, then your ranking should improve.

Further reading:

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