James Reynolds talks SEO at SuperFastBusiness Live back in 2016, shares a surprising experiment, and explains just how impactful CTR is to your rankings.
Okay, so let’s get into the tips.
The first one is increase your click-through rate to increase your rankings. The hypothesis for this is increased click volume will positively affect your search rankings. Now before you will point a finger and say, wait a second, James, you’re getting AdWords and SEO mixed up. Well, you’ve got a point. There is a very real concept in AdWords called quality score. And quality score is primarily influenced by the rate on which people click your ads vs. your competitors’ ads. And if more people click on your ads, they give you an increased ad rank below your cost-per-click because they believe that your result is more relevant to the user.
But few, if anyone, in SEO, which is always led by links and on-page optimization and content, ever thought that that was a factor in search. That was until some dude from Google let this slip. And I’ll just read it out for you. He says: ranking itself is affected by click rate. If we discovered a particular query, hypothetically, someone clicks result number two, sorry, 80 percent of people click result number two and 10 percent click on result number one, over time we’ll realize that people are interested in result two. And eventually, we’ll swap them out.
Now, a couple of things to mention. First of all, he says, hypothetically, which, if you’re in SEO, you realize Google representatives really love the word hypothetically. And secondly, he says, over time, which kind of concludes that it’s not a definitive ranking signal yet. So we need to put this to the test. So enter, in this case, Rand Fishkin, the Moz team, and the guys behind the IMEC lab. And they set up this simple test. It was basically, first of all, get a bunch of people to search for a particular query. Have those people click a particular result within the search results, and then record the changes in rankings.
So to get the test started, he sent out this tweet and he said, I’ve got a theory to test I want you to go to Google, search a particular query which was, in this case, the IMEC lab and click on the result from my blog. Now bear in mind, he’s got over 150,200 followers on Twitter and around about 200 people responded to that. And the website in question started in number seven position. Where do you think that website ended up maybe an hour or so later? Started number seven position, 200 people clicked on the result, here do you think it ended up? Two? Any takers on two or three? Number one results. 200 or so clicks later, three hours and that website moved up to number one position.
What’s interesting about that, and I guess so phenomenal about that is that Google has seemed to discount all of the other ranking signals and just focus on click-through rate to determine this website should be number one, as if all the other ranking signals did not work. So could be an anomaly probably worth testing again. So, same test scenario, asked a bunch of people to go to Google, search a particular result and then record the changes in ranking. This time the keyword was the buzzy pain distraction. The website started number 10 position. Where do you think it ended up an hour or so later? Number one, that was a tougher question this time. Just a few hours later, that website ranked in number one position. So is anyone in this room that’s got any doubt that click-through rate can affect rankings?
[audience asks a question]
That’s a good question. I’ll answer that later. No, it doesn’t stay there if that ranking signal does not continue. So before you get everyone to tweet and click on your particular result, it’s not going to stay there. We need to work on a few more actual genuine ways to increase your click-through rate. So what can we learn from this?
Well, first of all, of course, we’ve got to optimize our on-page data. So what typically gets shown in the search results is the page title from your page and your meta description. So of course, you could optimize that and improve it so it’s more compelling to readers. A few basic tips here that many of you are probably familiar with. You want to keep your page title to 65 characters or so, so it reads nicely on a mobile device. You want to have a compelling meta description with kind of a sales copy, unique selling points, maybe a call to action to encourage people to click through. But if you want some more advanced techniques, how about setting up a test for your best-performing pages from organic search? Why don’t you run a test with two different page titles and meta descriptions?
Now you can’t run an A-B split test as you normally would do, but you can run a periodic test. Place one page title description there for 30 days, place another page title and description there for another 30 days and see which performs best. The increased click-through rate will, of course, increase your ranking and with increased ranking, increased clicks.
So clicks, we get rankings, we get clicks. That’s how it works. If you’re doing AdWords of course, you can utilize your AdWords ad copy within your page titles and descriptions. That’s a really good technique. And I’d really recommend you do that. If you’re not running AdWords ads. Well, what you do, you just swipe your competitor’s. Go and have a look at who’s actually doing AdWords for your particular market for your particular keywords and see if you can get some copy ideas from those.
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