We all know the unwritten rule of the internet: if it’s not on the first page of Google search, it doesn’t exist. In fact, 95% of searchers won’t go further than page 1 on Google. That leaves only 5% of traffic to all the websites that didn’t make it to the top 10 search results.
Yet, ranking high on Google search doesn’t necessarily mean that people will click your link.
We at Chanty have been through a lot trying to build our SaaS startup from scratch (and getting it in front of the prospective customers) for the last couple of years. So, we know a thing or two about digital marketing and, especially, SEO.
One thing we’ve noticed is that some of our older articles optimized for long-tail keywords get a significant boost once they land on the first page of Google search results.
As soon as a piece of content gets in front of the readers, it’s much easier to climb those ranking stairs. And the secret of such success lies in the click-through rate (CTR).
In this article, we will share our observations and insights with you. Specifically, what makes people open your link on Google search? And how to optimize your content to get even more of those longed-for clicks?
Here are the 3 CTR lessons we’ve learned the hard way:
Make your title speak for itself.
While it’s pretty obvious that your content should be valuable and unique, a strong title is what matters most in terms of CTR. Before they read the article, people need to click on its title on Google search, first of all.
And even the most powerful and insightful article will be ignored if you fail to clearly communicate its value in the title.
There are several tricks we use to optimize our titles for better CTR.
1). Make them personal. Addressing your readers directly in your article title (e.g. “SaaS Product Pre-launch Checklist: 50 Tips for Your Startup”) has the potential to appeal to your target audience (and improve your CTR, as a result).
2). Include numbers. According to the research, headlines that use numbers are 36% more likely to generate clicks. (e.g. “50+ Amazing Tools for Team Collaboration in 2018”).
3). Use an emotional hook. Including certain “power words” can make your title even more convincing and appealing. (e.g. “Ryver Vs. Slack: Our Unbiased & Ridiculously In-Depth Comparison in 2018”).
4). Include brackets. Using brackets in the title can boost your CTR by 38%, according to HubSpot. (e.g. “8 Reliable Team Communication Tools in 2018 (with Pros, Cons & Prices)”).
5). Communicate a clear message. The headlines that communicate a clear benefit have 28% better conversions. (e.g. “50 Ways to Improve Team Communication at Work”).
Another strategy that turned out to be pretty effective for us is to use phrases like “our team experience,” “our feedback,” “we’ve tried,” etc. They make our titles sound more trustworthy. For example, our article “We’ve Tried 7 Slack Alternatives during 7 Weeks (Our Team’s Feedback)” is one of the best-performing so far.
Adding some good keywords couldn’t hurt either. For example, long-tail, high intent keywords have been working specifically well for us. They don’t just drive high-quality traffic to our website, but also have a reasonably high conversion rate (up to 10%).
Takeaway: Give the visitors some good reasons to click your link. Make a promise with your title (and keep it too!).
2. Steal the limelight
It turns out, people actually can judge a book by its cover, and they do so when browsing through their Google search results.
That’s why the short text featured together with the article title on Google is so important. Consider it your elevator pitch that can win you more traffic and, as a result, bring more conversions.
Yet, being #1 on Google search doesn’t always mean that everyone will see your website in their search results. Ads, featured snippets, infoboxes – they all can push your website out of the first screen, as well as steal some of your potential customers.
For example, a featured snippet can lead to 20% decrease in CTR, even if your website is #1 organic search result.
Sometimes, you need to scroll past several ads, infoboxes, featured snippets to even get to the first search result.
To solve this problem, you can either target less popular keywords that don’t have ads or featured results or get your own snippet featured on Google.
In addition to that, there are many ways to make your snippet more visible, and, as a result, attract more clicks. For example, you can use different symbols in your description to make it stand out.
Featuring the publication date on your blog post the snippet can also make a difference. The readers will always choose a more recent article over the one that is 10 years old and might be already outdated.
Also, pay attention to your URLs. Using the target keyword in the link address further convinces the readers that your article is the most relevant to their search, that you have exactly what they’re looking for.
An example of a snippet that instantly catches your attention.
One more important thing to consider: before you change your snippet, take a look at your competitors. If they are already using symbols, brackets or formatting, you won’t be able to stand out by doing the same.
Takeaway: Optimize your snippet for better visibility so you don’t get vanished in the crowd.
3. Make them stay
Ironically enough, the higher your website ranks, the more clicks it will get.
A snapshot of our article ranking in relation to its CTR.
Yet, poor content will never rank high, no matter how good the title and snippet are. As a result, if the visitors leave your website seconds after clicking on the link, you don’t get a shot at getting to the top 10.
On the other hand, the longer your visitors stay on your website after clicking the link on Google search, the better.
The dwell time, together with the CTR, are the two major metrics used by RankBrain to determine your spot on Google search. Namely, we noticed that the articles that have a reasonably high CTR (around 15-20%) and a decent dwell time usually rank significantly better over time.
As a result, we understood that creating quality content is the only way to get results. So, here are some hacks our team uses to craft content that resonates and converts:
Write in-depth, original content. Longer articles won’t keep the reader engaged, but well-researched, insightful ones will. The content that offers a clear value, is more likely to have better dwell time.
Make it readable. On an average visit, most visitors will only read 20% of the text on the page. That makes formatting and structure of an article just as important as its contents. Use subheaders, lists, short paragraphs, etc. to help the readers scan your content and prevent churn.
Mind the formatting. From the fonts to the background color you use, the details that seem irrelevant at first, can either make or break your content strategy in the long run.
Use visuals. Most people would rather watch a video than read a long text. According to Oracle, adding a video to your blog post can increase the search engine traffic by 157% and the time on site – by 105%. Plus, images, graphs, even memes or GIFs can liven up your articles and increase engagement (and, as a result, dwell time).
Speak the same language as your readers. Using complex words and long sentences can make you sound smarter. Will it attract the readers? Probably not. Choose simple words, make shorter sentences, avoid cliches, buzzwords and jargon.
Our efforts are starting to pay off with significant improvements of the average CTR (from 3-4% to 15-20%) and better search rank.
Takeaway: Double-check that your content matches the topic you advertise in both title and snippet. Then, apply text formatting, use visuals and relevant style to improve visitor retention.
Of course, getting to the top 10 on Google search isn’t a surefire way to drive the traffic to your website. But, let’s be honest, it helps a lot.
On the other hand, the content that has a high click-through rate won’t stay buried on page 8 of Google search results.
As you can see, CTR, dwell time and your website rank are closely interconnected. Once you improve your rank, the CTR will most likely increase too. A high CTR and dwell time will also inevitably result in a better search rank.
To get the ball rolling, see which content gets the most clicks. Compare the articles with the highest and the lowest CTR. The answers are right there, under your nose. You just need to learn how to make sense of the available information.
And don’t be afraid to experiment, even if you fail. At least, you’ll know what doesn’t work and will be able to focus on what does.
About the Author — Olga Mykhoparkina is a Chief Marketing Officer at Chanty a simple AI-powered business messenger and a single notification center. This powerful and free Slack alternative is aimed to increase team productivity and improve communication at work. Having a 9-year experience in digital marketing field, Olga is responsible for Chanty’s online presence strategy, managing an amazing team of marketing experts and getting things done to change the way teams communicate and collaborate. Follow Olga on Twitter or feel free to connect on LinkedIn.