Let’s set the basis for this article: #1 Google is the leader in search and to the best of my knowledge, they have not publicly announced their stance on CTR and its affect on SERPS. #2 Bing is the second runner up in the search engine competition and they have publicly declared their stance on CTR. According to Duane Forrester, Bing uses CTR as a ranking factor. #3 Many SEOs have their own beliefs on how Google and Bing handle CTR and how much it affects your rankings. This article is the result of my own tests.
The ultimate goal of Google is to provide the best search results to its users. They have to do this through machine learning and algorithms, so they are limited to what’s possible with modern technology. Imagine if Google were to completely ignore CTR as a metric. What if a search result NEVER got clicked on, would they be smart to keep displaying that result?
So, Does CTR Really Affect Your Rankings?
My official opinion: Click through rate has some affect on rankings in both major search engines, but not as much as other factors, like content, links, and Page authority. Here is the proof to back up my theory.
Reason #1: A Click Through Rate Experiment: In 2012, I started my new Inbound Marketing Agency: BrewSEO. I did the thing every SEO does when they start a new company, I purchased the domain brewseo.com. Now, everyone knows that it takes a new site awhile to rank, so I was surprised when my link building campaign started paying off so quickly. Within 2 months I was ranking #3 for the term Redding SEO. I was thrilled, but not satisfied, so I decided to conduct an experiment.
I pulled on my network on college, friends, family and social media network. I gave them all this link to a Google search and asked them to click on BrewSEO. Within 2 days, this CTR experiment moved me from position #3 to position #2. During that time, there were no new links, social shares, or anything else that could have provided an immediate boost in rankings.
Reason #2: CTR Effects PPC Ads: Last year Google made 37.9 Billion dollars and most of that was from PPC ads. Like every other business, if you want to find out more about their core values, just look at how they spend their money. Google clearly states that CTR will affect the cost and quality ratting of your PPC ad. CTR affects the price of ads because Google doesn’t want to display an ad that users aren’t looking for and CTR is one of the best metrics for determining how useful an ad is. If CTR affects user happiness on the PPC side, then it definitely affects the happiness on the organic side.
So, how can you improve your CTR?
You should start by making sure your title tags and meta descriptions are optimized to tell people exactly what your page is about. You can hire a professional copy editor to help you write your meta descriptions. You can make your title tags more clickable by writing in catchy headlines like “Ten Reasons Google Won’t Ever Index Your Site.” You can find out what your customers main hesitations are and dispel them in your meta description. Make sure your meta descriptions give users a positive message like, “The Decal Guru is the internet’s most trusted and high quality Macbook Sticker provider.” You can even test the effectiveness of your title tags and meta descriptions with the SERPTurkey Tool. SERP turkey will allow you to A/B test your meta descriptions, and title tags in a real life search engine. The turkey, simulates Google’s search results, and gives you a custom URL, you can send Mechanical Turk testers to the URL, and ask them to click on the link that catches their attention.
Improving your click through rate, may very well be a signal that Google looks at (obviously, I think it is, ) but more importantly, it’s a signal that will get you customers. If your CTR improves, you’ll start getting more traffic, that in it’self is enough to motivate you to work on getting better. If you have any more ideas about improving CTR, leave a comment below.