Search engines are one of the most important parts of the internet. Over 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, and organic search engine traffic accounted for 30% of all global web traffic in 2019. If your website doesn’t rank well in search engines, you'll miss out on a huge amount of traffic and will have to look to other less fruitful sources (e.g. social, direct, ads, etc.).
Having your website ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) isn’t enough - you need to make sure that people click through to it. Your website needs to stand out from the crowd to get noticed and clicked.
Improving your organic Click Through Rate (CTR) must be your top priority to drive more traffic from search engines. Most search engines now display a lot of information with search results such as featured snippets, images, videos, shopping, site links, local packs and ’people also ask’ sections.
Your content and website might appear in search results in multiple formats, but if people don’t click it, you won’t get any traffic.
Here are 5 ways you can improve your organic CTR and drive traffic to your website.
1. Write better meta titles
Have a look at Google SERP; what’s the most prominent thing you see? The titles, right?
Your attention is drawn towards the title on the search results page naturally for two main reasons:
- Titles have a large font, different color, and are instantly visible
- People read titles to identify websites that are supposed to best answer their queries
Let’s take an example. If you’re searching ‘how to lose weight fast’, you'll skim titles and will click the one that has used the exact search term as title or is most relevant to your search query. In this case, you won’t be interested in any title that doesn’t include the word fast or quick:
Here are some tips and best practices to write better and catchy titles that will drive clicks:
- The optimal length for the title tag is between 50-60 characters, but titles between 15 and 40 characters work best for CTR
- Keep the title catchy, unique, and simple
- Use a bracket in the title. Using brackets in the title increases click rate by 38%
- Using a question as titles, adding a number in the title, or using power words are some of the best ways to make it appealing
- Add your primary keyword (you are trying to rank for) in the title
- A/B test title tags to see what works best in terms of organic CTR
2. Improve content
Google uses any relevant content in your article as a featured snippet or as a meta description as long as it’s relevant. According to Search Engine Journal, Google rewrites meta descriptions over 70% of the time.
Here’s an example:
The meta description is rewritten in both the results and is picked from the page’s content. This shows the importance of writing better and high-quality content that’s relevant to your title.
You need to improve content formatting too so that search engine crawlers can understand it easily. Use proper heading tags, bullets and media and structure your web pages appropriately.
3. Write a clear meta description
While Google revises your meta description over 70% of the time, you still need to write one; you never know when Google may use it based on a search query. It’s also still used by other search engines and social media sites.
In any case, if a meta description will show in SERPs and your target audience will read it, and a poorly written meta description (or even no meta description) will reduce your organic CTR.
A well-written, descriptive and catchy meta description will persuade readers to click and visit your website. Better yet, adding a powerful CTA in the description is a perfect way to drive clicks.
Here’s an example of how to use a CTA in the meta description to boost organic CTR:
Adding your primary keyword in the description along with the current year will also help drive clicks. People are interested in up-to-date content and are more likely to click a result explicitly stating the current year in the description.
4. Write descriptive URLs
The URL is the third element that goes with your title and meta description in SERPs. While it isn’t prominent on desktop, it’s clearly visible on mobile where the font size of the title is reduced.
A descriptive URL is readable and describes the webpage and its content. Don’t forget to add your keyword in the URL as it’s a Google ranking factor. Here’s an example of a descriptive URL:
It’s short, readable and features the primary keyword in the URL.
5. Use structured data
Perhaps the most important technique to boost organic CTR is to use structured data (rich snippets). It helps search engines better understand your website and its content and instructs it on how to organize and display it in a user-friendly way on SERPs.
Rich snippets make your website prominent in SERPs by providing additional information to the readers such as rating, image, price and inventory details. It also makes your search result information-rich, thus persuading readers to click. The more information you can deliver to the people via the search result page, the more likely they'll be to click.
Here’s an example:
You can use Google’s structured data tool for webmasters, or plugins for your CMS (e.g. Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP for WordPress). If you’re using an on-page SEO plugin or a tool, you can easily incorporate basic rich snippet data with it. However, Google’s tool is your best bet.
Increasing organic CTR requires a lot of testing and tweaking. You need to monitor and analyze data and your analytics tool to see what works for your website.
The techniques covered above will get your site on the right track, but don’t stop here. Organic CTR is just the beginning and it won’t be of much use if your website has a poor conversion rate. While you’re busy optimizing title, description, content, URL and structured data, don’t forget to optimize your website for conversions.