Organic click-through rate, or CTR is another measurement of the success of your website, much like SEO. But CTR is often neglected, and if you’re neglecting CTR, you could be missing out on significant improvements in your traffic.

In case you don’t know what CTR is, it’s the percentage of people who actually click on your article after it appears in a Google search. People often forget that just because your article appears as a search result doesn’t necessarily mean people will choose to click on it. This is why you need to pay attention to both SEO and CTR.

So how do you improve your CTR? Well, it isn’t as straightforward as improving SEO, because Google Analytics doesn’t allow you to look up the CTR for individual keywords. You can only see your CTR for a sample of 1000 queries.

But this doesn’t mean you should give up on CTR. There are plenty of tricks you can use to improve it. Follow these four steps to improve your Google click through rate:

1. Separate your “unicorns” from your “donkeys”

In the world of CTR, a unicorn is an article that gets a lot of clicks when it appears in a search, and a donkey is an article that gets comparatively few clicks. Improving your CTR is all about identifying your donkeys and turning them into unicorns.

So how do you find the donkeys? First, download your query data from Google Analytics. Then create a graph with CTR on the y-axis and Average Position on the x-axis. You can add a trend line to see what your average CTR is, and then you can see which points are dragging the trend line down. The points at the very bottom of the curve are the donkeys.

2. Think like a content marketer

What makes a donkey a donkey? Most often, it depends on three things:

  • page title
  • meta description
  • reviews or ratings

If you want clicks, you need to think like a content marketer.

Let’s start with titles or headlines. A headline that is great for SEO may not be the most enticing headline to click on. Try changing your donkey headlines so they are more interesting, more conversational, speak from a different perspective, or convey different emotions. Don’t just change punctuation and capitalization—small changes like that won’t make any difference. Your headlines need to be irresistible to users.

You should also pay attention to your meta description. Make sure that snippet contains both interesting and enticing information. This is basically like the copy in an ad. If it’s good, people will click. If it’s boring and bland, they won’t.

As for reviews and ratings, this only applies to you if you’re offering a product or service. But if you have good reviews and ratings, simply opting to display them in your search results can make a huge difference in your CTR.

3. Run an A/B test

How are you going to know whether your changes are actually improving your click through rate? You’ll have to run some sort of A/B test.

The simplest way to run an A/B test for CTR is to choose two high ranking pages that are similar to each other (i.e. two blog posts), make a change to one of them, and see what happens. For the clearest possible data, choose pages that already get a few thousand impressions a month.

Once you have made a change, use Google Analytics to determine whether there was a significant increase in clicks for the article you changed. You should also check to see whether there was a difference between mobile and desktop traffic. Some changes might have an impact on one but not the other, and that’s important information.

4. Consider purchasing ads

When you create Google ads, Google will provide you with much more detailed CTR data, so you may want to consider running an experiment with some ads to determine how you should change your headlines.

For no more than $50, you can create 10 Google ads that all direct traffic to the same page, but each use different headlines. This type of A/B test will allow you to more conclusively determine that a certain headline resulted in the most clicks. Once you find a winning “unicorn” headline, you can change your other donkey headlines so they are more similar to that winner.

Overall, the most important thing to remember when trying to improve your CTR is this: Don’t be afraid to make big changes. You might currently be performing well in SEO with certain headlines and meta descriptions, but you could be getting much more traffic by changing them.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk. You’ll probably be surprised by the results you get.

eric-brantnerAuthor: Eric Brantner is an online entrepreneur who owns a number of high-traffic, successful blogs in a variety of niches. You can read more of his writings on marketing and entrepreneurship at Scribblrs.com and follow him on Twitter @Eric_Scribblrs.

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