What Is CTR?
CTR means “Click Through Rate”, and frankly, I believe it to be the most effective measurement that Google can have when it comes to seeing how effective your page is at answering the search query.
So, in my humble opinion, very possibly THE most important metric you can try to improve in SEO.
Another reason why I think CTR is so important is that the “click” is the entry route into a massive array of data points that open up following a click. From a click, you can measure vital SEO metrics like:
CTR SEO Metrics
- Dwell Time
- Bounce Rate
- Scroll Depth
- Heat Mapping
- Seeing how many pages a user visits
CTR SEM & IP-Related Metrics
- User Agent
- Click Tracking
- Affiliate Attribution
These are all some (not all) of the benefits that can be attained from the simple “click”
And, of course, the most important is the conversion from that click!
That conversion could be at a minimum a brand impression, an email capture but what we really want is an NC (New Customer) or said minus-jargon: a sale!
How To Test CTR?
What you can measure you can grow.
As ever, in SEO, you need to be able to measure the effectiveness of your changes.
CTR Tool – Google Search Console
The “easiest” way to measure your CTR tweaking is by using Google Search Console (GSC).
GSC is an amazing – and free – SEO Tool, and I can’t recommend it enough.
GSC will let you see how your clicks have changed over time, from and before you started your Meta Data manipulation.
CTR Tool – SEOTesting.com
This tool is excellent and highly affordable. Simply called “SEO Testing” this tool syncs up with your GSC Data and makes it really easy to create testing projects based on URLs for either:
- Single URLs
- Combined (batch) URLs
Another thing I really like about this tool is that it plots your data alongside (on the X-Axis) Google Algo changes; something that is neat and tidy. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that AHRefs 2.0 Site Overview is now also doing this.
So, in summary, I’d recommend the x2 SEO Tools mentioned above which are actually one of the same because (from my understanding) SEO Testing is a “skin” and more usable GUI version of GSC.
My CTR Challenge
I manage the SEO for a massive eCom here in Hong Kong.
The site has over 20 million pages, yup – 20 million!
With so many products and categories, as well as landing pages and other root-level upper-tier navigational pages it would be impossible to ask our copywriters to write unique and optimized SEO content for all these pages.
For the ultra-important categories (relevant to the core of our business) we dedicated time and resources to get those pages further improved with their on-page SEO. That includes naturally vital on-page SEO such as:
- Title Tag
- Meta Description
However, despite our best efforts, we were able to nudge certain important keyword rankings further up the SERPs.
We tried SEO strategies like improving internal linking, getting better backlinking, and other variables but these were not having much success. And, as a result of that we decided to see if we could improve our CTR to send more positive signals to Google that would (or “should”) improve our rankings – and that was our challenge.
Since we have millions of pages we needed a system that was 100% scalable for obvious reasons, and the way we did it was, as you’d expect, to take the product title and simply insert that into the title tag. We also appended a hyphen, our brand name, and the keyword “Free Shipping”.
A very simple product example looks like this:
<title>COSRX Pimple Patch - ACME, Free Shipping!</title>
And, a very simple category example looks like this:
The same product title was also inserted into the H1 of the page (minus everything after the hyphen of course).
As you’d expect, assuming Google respects our Title Tags and uses them in the SERPs then all is good….to an extent….
It just doesn’t look catchy enough or clickable enough…
Sure the “Free Shipping!” is enticing but we thought to experiment by introducing more emotive keywords – and that’s exactly what we tested.
Title Tag Testing Improvements
To get a proof of concept we decide to take pages that we know receive at least 1,000 clicks a month.
If you have many pages to test then I’d always recommend testing pages that receive volume because that way it is faster to see the results of your tweaks.
Taking x10 URLs, that all happened to be fashion categories, we manually tweaked the titles to see what genuine changes we achieved.
Here’s an example: “Spaghetti Strap Dresses”.
The title tag was changed from:
|Title Tag 1.0 (original)
|Title Tag 2.0 (testing)
|Buy Spaghetti Strap Dress
The same goes for Meta Descriptions,
Long gone are the days when Google would obediently simply parse out the Meta Description and display it in the SERPs. Google will decide whether your description matches the page, and for the most part, it will – however, as ever, we need to test these things.
Wrapping It Up
The bottom line is – that is what we are trying to achieve as SEOs right? We want more clicks. More clicks mean more conversions and more positive signals to send back to Google which in turn “ought” to mean higher rankings and more clicks, and on the positive trajectory we move – or so we hope!