What Is SERP CTR?
SERP CTR is the click-through rate on the web page snippet that appears on the search engine results page or SERP.
Owners of websites are so focused on getting their pages to rank in the top ten search results, that they often overlook this second aspect of organic search.
It's not enough to simply rank on Page #1 of Google: you also need to persuade humans to click on your SERP snippet.
Your SERP snippet is the 4 or 5 lines of information about your web page that appears in the search resutls. At a minimum it consists of:
- meta description
How To Find Your SERP CTR
The first thing to do is to find out what is your current SERP CTR (aka organic CTR). To do this, go to your Google Analytics account and click on Acquisitions > Search Console > Queries:
SERP CTR and Organic Ranking
It’s important to watch your SERP CTR and try to improve it.
The reason for this is that there’s a strong relationship between organic CTR and where a page ranks in the search results.
The search engine has ‘expected CTRs’ for each position in the search results.
In other words, if your site ranks in Position #2 for a given search query, Google will have an ‘expected CTR’ for that position that's different for the expected CTR for Position #7.
If your snippet exceeds the expected CTR for your position, you go up, but if your snippet fails to meet the expected CTR, your snippet goes down.
SERP snippets with low CTR are assumed to be less relevant to that particular search query. And so the algorithm will move those snippets further down the page.
So CTR is a ranking factor. And that means it’s vital to monitor CTR and try to improve it.
Eleven Ways To Increase Your SERP CTR
Here are eleven ways to increase your SERP CTR and get more clicks from your SERP snippets:
#1. Write Compelling SEO Titles
The title in your SERP snippet (often called the 'SEO Title') is the first thing to grab the attention of someone scanning the search results.
Here are some ways to craft eye-catching SEO titles :
- Use Numbers
Numbers grab our attention faster than words and make your title stand out from the others. Try to find a way of including 2 or 3 numbers in your title. For example, 5 Powerful Ways To Get 1000 Subscribers in 30 Days.
- Use Power Words
Use power words in your title, such as ‘free’, ‘best’, ‘intriguing’, ‘exciting’, ‘perfect’, ‘instantly’.
Here's a list of '700+ Power Words That Will Boost Your Conversions'.
- Use Emotion
Emotion drives human behavior more than logic or facts. Try to invoke strong emotional responses by using words such as ‘want’, ‘get’, ‘imagine’, ‘free’, ‘instantly’.
Here’s a list of ‘400+ Words That Trigger Emotional Responses’.
- Use Active Verbs
You want your SEO title to produce an action (clicking the title) so use active verbs.
One way to do this is to imagine the searcher thinking “I want to…” and then finish the sentence for them.
- Avoid Truncated Titles
SEO titles that have been cut off or truncated are less likely to produce a click because only a portion of your message is visible.
Use the Yoast SEO plugin to ensure your titles are less than 60 characters in length.
#2. Use This SEO Title Formula
This headline formula works well in SEO titles - it grabs the searcher's attention and makes them click on the snippet:
[Number] + [Emotional Adjective] + [Content] + [That Does What Exactly?]
Make sure to use this formula in your SEO titles.
#3. Write Powerful Meta Descriptions
As with your SEO title, always include your keyword in the meta description.
Why? Because searchers are scanning the results looking for the search query they just typed into Google.
Include a Call To Action (e.g. “Get Your FREE Copy”) in the meta description. And remember that if you don’t set a meta description, Google will create one for you and (and it won’t be as good as the one you write).
#4. Use Descriptive URLs
SERP snippets are much more effective when the URL matches the SEO title.
Use descriptive URL’s and not randomly generated URLs.
This is what a descriptive URL looks like in a SERP snippet:
And this is what a descriptive URL looks like in the address bar of a browser:
#5. Use Your Brand Name in the Title
If searchers are likely to recognize your brand name, then make sure to include it in your SEO title - brand name recognition can increase click-though rate from the SERPs.
To insert your brand name in your SEO titles, use the free Yoast SEO plugin.
Go to SEO > Search Appearance > Title Separator and choose one of the 14 different types of title separators:
Then go to ‘Content Types’ and remove ‘snippet variables’ until you are left with these three variables:
Then hit ‘Save changes’ at the bottom of the page.
Now, when you create a new blog post, Yoast will populate your SEO title with these three variables:
You can place these 'title variables' in any order you like. To have the site title or brand name appear at the front, simply move that variable to the front of the title field:
By default, the Yoast plugin inserts the title of your post.
But you can modify the SEO title: it doesn’t have to be the same as the article title (and probably shouldn’t be).
Just click on ‘Edit Snippet’, delete the ‘title’ tag and enter the text that you want for the title:
#6. Add Breadcrumb Markup
When breadcrumb navigation appears in a SERP snippet, it provides the searcher with valuable context and additional clickable navigation options. This increases CTR.
If your WordPress theme does not already have breadcrumbs, you can add breadcrumb navigation using the Yoast SEO plugin.
Here are instructions on how to do it: 'Implement Yoast SEO Breadcrumbs'
#7. Add Schema
- Clicks increased by 43 percent
- Impressions are up by almost 1 percent.
- Average position also increased by 12 percent.
You can add structured data using a plugin such as All In One Schema Rich Snippets
#8. Target Long Tail Keywords
Content that targets long tail keywords generates higher CTRs than content that targets head keywords.
The reason for this is that long tail keywords represent searchers who have a much clearer idea of what they’re looking for. And so they’re more likely to click on a SERP snippet for a long tail keyword.
The correlation between long tail keywords and higher click-through rates, can be seen in research conducted by Calculate Marketing.
Although this chart refers to paid ads, the findings apply equally well to organic search.
Put simply: long tail keywords produce higher CTRs than head keywords because people who type them into a search engine have a clearer idea of what they want.
#9. Get Higher Rankings
This might seem back-to-front reasoning - but the fact is, the higher you rank in the SERPs, the higher your CTR, as the following table shows:
(Image Source: Advanced Web Ranking via Moz)
So if you can improve your web page's SERP ranking, you will automatically improve that page's CTR.
#10. Improve Your Site Speed
Search ranking is directly correlated with page speed: the faster your web page loads, the higher it will rank in the search results. And higher-ranking pages get higher click-through rates.
So increasing site speed leads to higher SERP CTR.
For tips on how to increase your site speed, see my article: 27 Easy Ways to Reduce Server Response Time in WordPress
#11. Reverse Engineer Your Pages with High SERP CTR
Find out which blog posts have a high organic CTR and which have a low organic CTR. Then compare the two, and try to identify the differences that give some of your blog posts a high organic CTR.
To do this, go to Google Search Console > Performance and then click on the ‘export data’ button. Choose ‘download CSV’ and then open the CSV file in Microsoft Excel:
Then just sort the CTR column from high to low:
Next, copy a search query (Column A) for a high CTR web page into Google and try to identify what it is in the search snippet that is producing the high SERP CTR.
Pay close attention to things like:
- Action words, emotional trigger words, numbers, and symbols in the SEO title
- Call To Action (CTA) in the meta description
- URLs that match the SEO title
Do the same for web pages with low CTR: look at the search snippet as it appears in Google and try to see how it’s different from a high CTR page. Have a close look at things like:
- Absence of numbers, trigger words, action words, and symbols in the SEO title
- Lack of CTA in the meta description
- URLs that don’t match the SEO title
Do this for 5 high CTR pages and 5 low CTR pages and you’ll begin to get an idea of what factors give your pages a high CTR.
Click-Through Rates (CTR) from search results are falling and have been for about 3 years.
Web marketers should always monitor the SERP CTR of their web pages. But now, with half of all searches resulting in no clicks, it's even more important.
Use these 10 tips to increase your SERP CTR and immunize yourself against zero-click search.