How can you get more clicks on your content and rise to the top of search engine results pages?
You create content—a blog post, an ebook, a video…maybe even a new page on your website. Next, you share it out on social media, via email, on your blog and wherever else to try to reach your target audience.
Then, there are search engine rankings to consider. How do you get searchers to click on your content over other content that appears in their search results? (Is your content even showing up as a top result?)
These are age-old questions in digital marketing.
In this post, we’ll cover 6 easy ways to improve your click-throughs. But first, we’ll set the stage by answering a few important questions:
– What even is CTR?
– Does CTR impact your SEO?
We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started. 👇👇👇
What is CTR?
CTR stands for click-through rate.
It’s the ratio of people who click on a link to the total number of people who view your website page, social post, email or ad. (This number is also known as “impressions.”)
For example, if you have 100 impressions and five clicks, you will have a CTR of 5%. To calculate your CTR, divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions:
A high CTR is an indication that your audience finds your content A) useful and B) relevant. Why? Well, they clicked on it! This means they found it compelling enough to want to learn more.
CTR matters because, as marketers, we create content to support the top, middle and bottom of the funnel, and that content can only be effective at doing what it was created to do if people see it.
Some research has shown a correlation between search engine results page (SERP) rankings and CTR. Such studies show pages that rank higher in search results tend to have higher click-through rates.
Let’s talk more about this.
Does CTR Impact SEO?
When you share links on your owned media (on your social media channels, via email, etc.) that point people to your website or blog, you’re driving traffic to those channels. But, could that increase in traffic have a positive effect on your website or blog’s SEO?
It seems the jury is still out on this.
This article attempts to answer the question from a social media standpoint. The author argues that social shares (e.g., a retweet of a blog post you shared on your company’s Twitter account) tell search engines what websites are credible and which keywords they should rank for on SERPs.
Then, there’s this 2014 study, which takes a look at CTR on results pages themselves. Using data collected from Google Webmaster Tools, it analyzed the CTR for a link when it was at different positions in Google search results.
When the link was in the number one spot it had a CTR of 56%. When it was in the number two spot, that CTR fell to 0%.
From the table, you can see that when the link was in the number one slot in search results, it had a far higher number of impressions and clicks than when it ranked in all other positions.
Still, that doesn’t prove that Google, or any other search engine, will move your content up on the results pages just because it has a high CTR.
Here’s one more example to consider. This one takes a look at click-throughs coming from a referring site. One company saw a huge surge in traffic to its website after it published an article—titled, “Google’s Advances in Object Detection and Image Understanding”—on Reddit.
At the same time it saw this increase in traffic, it also saw a spike in keyword position for the search term “Google Images.” Suffice to say, this bump in position followed a downward trend after only a few days, so that initial bump was short lived.
So, could this mean that traffic increases can influence the keyword ranking position on SERPs? Unfortunately, we don’t have enough information to know for sure.
Either way, remaining consistent over time seems to reap more long-term and meaningful rewards.
How can you Improve CTR?
Whether or not traffic increases have an influence on how your content ranks on SERPs, there are many reasons to care about boosting your CTR across your owned media.
For one, the right content delivered to the right audience can help prospective customers move through the sales funnel, as we mentioned previously.
Plus, getting more clicks on your content, when shared on social media, will help extend your organic reach. This gives you even more opportunity for your content to be seen and, by extension, helps get more eyeballs on your brand.
Here are a few tips to improve organic click-throughs.
1 – Conduct Keyword Research
First, focus on creating content that is going to drive the right traffic to your website or blog. You can do this by conducting keyword research.
Keyword research is important for two reasons:
– It will help to focus your website and blog content efforts and;
– It will help you improve your ranking for organic search queries
For example, if you want to rank for searches related to, say, the topic of computer viruses, you should consider what keywords you can create content around in order to boost your ranking for relevant searches.
Short-tail keywords will help with top of funnel engagement whereas long-tail keywords will do the same for your middle and bottom of funnel.
Creating content to support a solid sales funnel (from top to bottom) should take into consideration the range of keywords your target audience might use at different points in the customer journey.
That might look something like this:
There are lots of tools that can help you conduct keyword research, like SEMRush and Moz. Once you know what sort of search queries you want to go after, you should work on creating a diversity of content using relevant keywords.
“The key is to think of your content assets in terms of topics you want your business to compete in, rather than discrete keywords. The keywords can still play into your overall strategy, but topics are now the umbrella under which your keyword strategy operates.” – Mimi An, HubSpot
2 – Optimize title tags and meta descriptions
Optimize, optimize, optimize.
Let’s start with meta descriptions—the snippet that appears in search results. Search engines use this snippet when the phrase someone searches shows up in the description.
So, optimizing your meta descriptions is important for on-page SEO.
Far too often, people don’t add a meta description, leaving search engines to pull this information for you from your web page or blog post. But, if you do it yourself you can craft a strong meta description—one with a call-to-action, a focus keyword and that’s written in a way that attracts the attention of searchers.
This blog post shows you how to write a really strong meta description.
Aside from the meta description, your web page or blog post title tag is another key ranking factor of on-page SEO. Some things you’ll want to look out for include:
LENGTH: Make sure your title tag is not so long that it cuts off on SERPs!
KEYWORDS: Add them to the beginning of your title. According to Moz, keywords placed at the front, “may have more impact on search rankings.”
BRAND: If your brand is well-known, consider adding the name of your business to your title tag. This could entice a searcher to click your content over your competitors’.
3 – Create engaging visuals
This one is all about how you promote your content, whether on social media, via email or otherwise. If your aim is to boost CTR, attracting your audience with stand-out visuals is important.
Many studies show that adding visuals to your social media posts boosts engagement—and there’s no guessing why.
Your followers’ feeds are flooded with content, from text and photos to GIFs and videos. There’s so much competition, strong visuals are critical to giving yourself a fighting chance for your content to be seen.
This post shows you which tools to use to create compelling social media visuals.
4 – Use custom branded links
Branded links are powerful marketing assets: they attract up to 34% more clicks.
To create them, you need to purchase a custom branded domain and connect it to your link shortener. Attaching a custom domain to Bitly replaces the “bit.ly” in your links with the name of your choosing.
Here are a few examples of custom branded domains that businesses use to create branded links:
ESPN uses es.pn
Nike uses swoo.sh
New York Times uses nyti.ms
BuzzFeed uses bzfd.it
Branded links give you the option to create completely custom links.
In addition to using a custom domain, you can customize the back-half of your Bitly links (the random alphanumerics that appear after the “/”). This shows your audience where you’re sending them.
For example, ESPN might go from:
bit.ly/DAHOc72 → es.pn/SummerCollection
Read this post to learn how to leverage branded links in your social media, digital marketing and customer service efforts.
5 – Run A/B Tests
Test your headlines! And your photos! And your copy!
Headlines are the first thing you read when you see a post on social media. Testing them can help you learn which options engage your audience most.
This post will show you how to write strong social media headlines.
Similarly, you can test your visuals and copy. Just remember: when you A/B test an element of your social media posts, make sure you only test one thing at a time. So, if you want to try a new headline, make sure the visual and post copy remain the same.
Ideally, you’ll run the two posts at the same time and on the same day of week.
This helps you pinpoint which new element (e.g., headline copy) is impacting results.
6 – Know your audience
Finally, always try to develop a deeper understanding of your audience. Who are they? What type of content are they interested in? How can the content your business shares help them with their pain points?
If the content you’re sharing isn’t interesting or relevant to your audience, they won’t click it.
It’s that simple.
One way to find out what kind of content your audience wants to see is by asking them directly. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow you to create polls—a simple way of getting instant feedback from your audience.
Another thing you can do is monitor your competitors’ social media channels. You likely have very similar target audiences, so what resonates with their followers may also resonate with yours.
However, you don’t want to just steal their ideas and reshare them in your own words. If the topic is relevant to your business and something you can speak with authority on, consider creating content on that topic and make sure to offer a unique perspective.
Right now, we can’t say for certain what impact CTR has on SEO. And, with algorithms in constant flux, who knows if we ever will.
While it’s unclear, we do know that improving quality click-throughs has many benefits. So, it’s worth putting in the effort to increase CTR. To sum up what we’ve covered, here are six key ways to do that.
1. CONDUCT KEYWORD RESEARCH This helps focus your content efforts and, as a result, improve your ranking for organic search queries.
2. OPTIMIZE YOUR TITLE TAGS AND META DESCRIPTIONS
These are key ranking factors of on-page SEO, so make sure to customize the snippet and title that appears on search engine results pages.
3. CREATE ENGAGING VISUALS
Pair strong visual content with your social media posts and emails so your audience is compelled to click.
4. USE CUSTOM BRANDED LINKS
Make sure your links stand out from the crowd by connecting a custom branded domain to your link shortener.
5. RUN A/B TESTS
Test your headlines, visuals and copy on your social media posts so you know what content drives the most engagement.
6. ASK YOUR AUDIENCE
Ask your audience directly what kind of content they want to see from you and monitor your competitors to see which posts drive the most engagement.
Know of any tips that we’ve missed? Tweet them to us!
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