December 07, 2012
/ by ckettmann
Optimizing click through rates (CTR) has long been an integral part of running a successful paid search campaign. So why are click through rates largely ignored when it comes to web search optimization? Perhaps part of the reason is that for many years, search engine results page (SERP) click through rates were largely a black hole – SEOs could only guess at how well their organic listings were performing.
More recently, Google has started giving webmasters access to click through rate data (albeit the precision of this data is subject to debate) at the keyword and URL level. Even with this data, though, many SEOs are not always dedicating resources to maximise organic search CTRs.
Search traffic and CTR are two sides of the same coin
To maximize organic search traffic to your website, you need lots of prominently ranking web pages (via copious amounts of thought leadership content) and a high click through rate. If you gain web search traffic from prominent rankings but get a low clickthrough rate, you’re leaving potential visitors and conversions on the table.
In fact, you could even say that rankings don’t ultimately matter – only click through rates. After all, the primary reason a #1 ranking is perceived to be better than a #5 ranking is because the #1 ranking typically gets a much higher click through rate. Practically speaking, it would be better to have a #6 ranking that gets a 4% CTR than a #5 ranking that gets a 3% CTR.
General guidelines for improving SERP CTRs
How to track the click through rates of your organic listings
Both Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools provide click through data. Google Webmaster Tools data can also be integrated into Google Analytics. The below screenshots highlight some of the data you can view via Google Analytics and/or Webmaster Tools.
CTR by country:
CTR by type of search:
CTR by keyword:
CTR by listing URL:
It should be noted that the CTR data shown in webmaster tools is not always 100% precise or accurate. The data should be taken with a bag of salt to detect trends and not pinpoint exact numbers.
Specific suggestions for optimizing your CTRs
Bottom line: Increasing the click through rate of your organic listings is an often overlooked way to get more search traffic with your current search visibility. Are there any tactics you’ve used to get a higher organic CTR?
Author Bio: Andreas Voniatis is the Managing Director of Alchemy Viral, a UK based consultancy providing multilingual link building as a trade supplier to digital agencies worldwide.
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