Monthly Archive: August 2019

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We Analyzed 5 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About Organic Click Through Rate

sourced from: https://backlinko.com/google-ctr-stats

We analyzed 5 million Google search results to better understand organic click through rate.

First, we analyzed CTR data across 874,929 pages and 5,079,491 search queries.

Then, we looked at how factors like title tag length, sentiment and meta descriptions affect organic CTR.

Thanks to data provided from ClickFlow, we were able to get CTR data from several different Google Search Console accounts.

So without further ado, let’s see the results.

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

1. The #1 result in Google’s organic search results has an average CTR of 31.73%.

2. The #1 organic result is 10x more likely to receive a click compared to a page in #10 spot.

3. Organic CTR for positions 7-10 is virtually the same. Therefore moving up a few spots on the bottom of the first page may not result in more organic traffic.

4. On average, moving up 1 spot in the search results will increase CTR by 30.8%. However, this depends on where you’re moving from and to. Moving from position #3 to position #2 will usually result in a significant CTR boost. However, moving from #10 #9 doesn’t make a statistically significant difference.

5. Title tags that contain a question have a 14.1% higher CTR vs. pages that don’t have a question in their title.

6. Title tags between 15 to 40 characters have the highest CTR. According to our data, pages with a title tag length between 15 and 40 characters have an 8.6% higher CTR compared to those that are outside of that range.

7. URLs that contain a keyword have a 45% higher click through rate compared to URLs that don’t contain a keyword.

8. Adding “Power Words” to your title tag may decrease your CTR. We found that titles with Power Words had a 13.9% lower CTR compared to titles that didn’t contain Power Words.

9. Emotional titles may improve your CTR. We found that titles with positive or negative sentiment improved CTR by approximately 7%.

10. Writing meta descriptions for your pages may result in a higher CTR. Pages with a meta description get 5.8% more clicks than those without a description.

I have detailed data and information of our analysis below.

The #1 Result In Google Gets 31.7% of All Clicks

The initial goal of our study was to establish CTR benchmarks.

Using our full data set of ~5 million results, we found that the #1 result has the highest CTR (by far).

We also saw a sharp CTR dropoff starting on the 2nd page of the results.

In fact, only 0.78% of Google searchers clicked on something from the second page.

This CTR trend is consistent with other CTR industry studies, like this one from Advanced Web Ranking.

Because CTR starting on the 2nd page is extremely low, we wanted to zero-in on the first page results. So we re-ran this analysis with data that excluded results from page 2 and beyond. We also eliminated queries that may skew the results with an abnormally high CTR (for example, branded queries).

And after we analyzed only the first page results with this data subset, we found that the #1 result in Google has a CTR of 31.7%.

Here is the full CTR breakdown for Google’s first page organic results:

As you can see, the #1 result in Google has a 10x higher CTR compared to the #10 result.

For anyone that’s worked in the SEO field for any length of time, this finding shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s well-known that ranking #1 is significantly more valuable than any other position.

That’s because, according to a recent Moz survey, many Google users instinctively click on the first result in Google. This likely explains why the #2 result, which is just a few mere pixels below the #1 spot, has such a large CTR dropoff.

Key Takeaway: The #1 result in Google gets 31.73% of all clicks.

Organic CTR Spikes At Position #5… And Again At Position #3

As I outlined, the #1 result in Google has (by far) the highest CTR.

However, there are still clicks to be had outside of the top position.

Specifically, while CTR is relatively flat between positions #6-#10 there’s a significant CTR spike starting with position #5.

This suggests two things:

Most users don’t scroll past the 5th result.
Moving up from position #6 to #5 may result in a significant CTR boost.

We see another sharp CTR increase starting with position #3.

This may be due to the fact that, for results without ads or SERP features, the #3 result often appears above the fold.

In fact, we found that the top 3 Google search results get 75.1% of all clicks.

Key Takeaway: Our data suggests that “ranking on the first page” may not be a worthy SEO goal. Instead, it’s all about ranking in the top spot (or at least in the top 3). The top 3 organic results get 75% of the clicks.

Moving Up One Position Increases CTR By 30.8%

We discovered, all things being equal, moving up a single position in Google increases relative CTR by 30.8%.

However, this CTR boost isn’t evenly distributed. Not even close.

The CTR impact of moving up in the SERPs varied widely depending on position.

For example, moving from position #9 to #8 will result in 5% more clicks. Not a huge difference.

However, moving up from #6 to the #5 spot will result in 52.6% more clicks.

Key Takeaway: Moving up one position in Google will increase your relative CTR by an average of 30.8%. However, this increase varies greatly depending on position. We found that the greatest CTR increase came from moving from #6 to #5, which resulted in an absolute CTR boost of 52%.

Most Websites Get 8.1 Clicks Per Query

We also looked at, for all the queries reported in the Google Search Console, how many resulted in clicks.

First, we discovered that most of the queries that a site ranks for in Google get very few impressions.

This suggests that most of the keywords that a site ranks for are long tails with low search volume. Or that the site isn’t ranking highly for these terms. Or both.

And likely due to a low number of impressions, most queries result in a small number of clicks (8.1 per query).

Key Takeaway: “Ranking for X keywords” may not be a valuable SEO metric. That’s because most pages rank for keywords with little search volume. Instead, most impressions and clicks tend to come from a relatively small number of queries.

Question Titles Have an Above-Average CTR

We compared the average organic CTR between titles that contained and didn’t contain a question.

(We defined a question as a title that used the terms “How, Why, What, Who” or a title with a question mark).

We found that questions with titles had a 14.1% higher click through rate compared to titles without a question.

Here’s the full CTR breakdown across the top 10 results.

This finding is consistent with headline CTR studies, like this one published in the journal Social Influence.

Questions may improve CTR because, when someone is searching for something in Google, they’re essentially looking for an answer to a question.

(They are called “queries” after all).

And using a question title may confirm to the reader that your result contains the answer to their exact question.

For example, I used a question title on this page optimized around the term “nofollow link”.

According to my GSC data, that page has a CTR of 29.2%.

Most people searching for a broad term like “nofollow link” want to know what a nofollow link actually is. And my question title shows that my result will give the searcher the answer they’re looking for.

Key Takeaway: Question-based title tags have a 14.1% higher CTR compared to non-question titles.

Title Tags Between 15 to 40 Characters Have The Best CTR

What’s the ideal title tag length? Should you keep your titles short and sweet? Or use long titles that contain lots of info about your content?

According to our data, you want to aim somewhere in the middle.

Specifically, we found that titles between 15 to 40 characters have the highest organic CTR.

While there may be an SEO benefit of long title tags (longer titles=more keywords), this may be partially offset by a lower organic CTR.

In fact, Etsy tested numerous title tag variations as part of a large-scale SEO experiment. And they discovered that “It appeared in our results that shorter title tags performed better than longer ones.”

The author of that post hypothesized that shorter titles may perform better in Google due to query matching. However, according to our analysis, CTR may also play a role in why short and medium titles work best.

Key Takeaway: Title tags between 15 and 40 characters have the best organic CTR. Titles inside of this range have an 8.6% better average click-through-rate compared to those that fall outside of this range.

Keyword-Rich URLs Are Correlated With a Significantly Higher CTR

We wanted to see if keyword-rich URLs positively impacted CTR.

For example, take someone searching for “weekend trips”. Would a URL like travel.com/weekend-trips have a higher CTR than travel.com/travel-page?

To accomplish this analysis, we looked at each of the search queries, compared them with the URLs, and provided a similarity index that ranged from 0% to 100%.

A value of 0% means that the two words are not similar at all, while a value of 100% means a perfect match. We ignored all punctuation marks and symbols. We also treated certain words as the same (book vs books, cake vs cakes, etc.).

Indeed, we found a strong correlation between keyword-rich URLs and organic CTR (p-value = 0.01)

Although having a perfect query-keyword match resulted in the highest CTR, our data shows that a URL that partially matches a query can also result in a significant CTR boost.

Google’s Search Engine Optimization guide reminds webmasters that your page’s URL shows up in the SERPs. And they recommend that you use “URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content…”.

And a 2012 paper published by Microsoft found that “trusted domains” had a higher CTR in search engines compared to domains that people weren’t familiar with.

The theory behind this is that search engine users use a page’s URL to figure out the best match for their query.

Key Takeaway: We found a 45% increase in CTR for pages with a perfect query match (the entire search query is in the URL) vs. a non-match (no search query term matches the URL).

“Power Words” May Negatively Impact Click Through Rate

“Power Words” are specific words and phrases designed to help your headlines stand out, and in theory, get more clicks.

For example, Power Words and terms like:

Secret
Powerful
Ultimate
Great
Perfect
Best
Insane
Amazing

Our data found that Power Words actually decreased CTR by 13.9%.

My theory on this is that, while Power Words are great for grabbing attention on noisy platforms (like Facebook), they may look like clickbait in Google’s search results.

For example, look at the top 3 results for the keyword “how to write headlines”.

For a keyword like this you’d expect over-the-top titles like “How to Write Insanely Amazing Headlines”.

However, the top 3 results all use title tags that are pretty subdued.

Key Takeaway: While Power Words may work on social media, they can hurt your organic click through rate. In fact, titles with Power Words have a 13.9% worse CTR compared to titles without any Power Words.

Emotional Titles Can Increase Organic Click Through Rate

Our data suggests that emotional titles (titles with a positive or negative sentiment) have a higher CTR compared to emotionally-neutral titles.

Specifically, we found that emotional titles have a 7.3% higher absolute CTR compared to non-emotional titles.

We also discovered that negative and positive titles tend to work equally well. Controlling for other variables (like ranking position), titles with a positive sentiment have a 7.4% higher CTR, while titles with a negative sentiment have a 7.2% higher CTR.

For this analysis we analyzed each word in the title for “text polarity”. And each title was assigned a sentiment score based on the title’s estimated negative or positive sentiment.

For example, a title like this was considered neutral.

And this title was scored as having a positive sentiment.

Several industry studies, including this one from BuzzSumo, have found a correlation between emotional headlines and engagement.

However, I wasn’t able to find any industry study that specifically looked at the relationship between emotional title tags and Google organic CTR.

And at least according to our data, emotional titles can result in a higher click through rate in the organic results.

What’s interesting is that, while we found that Power Words hurt CTR, emotional titles help CTR.

This may be due to the fact that sentiment is a more nuanced metric than the presence or absence of a single Power Word. In other words, it’s possible to write an emotionally-charged title without using a Power Word. And titles that deftly push emotional buttons without looking like clickbait can stand out and get more clicks in the SERPs.

Key Takeaway: Titles with negative or positive sentiment have a higher organic click through rate vs. neutral titles.

Pages With a Meta Description Have a Higher Average CTR vs. Pages Without a Description

Even though descriptions don’t directly impact SEO, Google still recommends writing a unique meta description for every page on your site.

In fact, they even suggest that well-written descriptions can improve the number of clicks you get from Google search.

Which is why we decided to compare organic CTR between pages with and without a meta description. We found that pages with meta descriptions had a 5.8% better CTR compared to pages without a description.

This finding shouldn’t surprise anyone with experience in SEO. Even though Google doesn’t always use the meta descriptions you write for them, your meta description can appear fairly often in the SERPs.

Without a meta description to fall back on, Google has to pull snippets from your page to fill in that space in your snippet.

And the text that Google pulls from your page is almost always going to be less enticing than a well-written description.

Key Takeaway: Writing unique meta descriptions for each page can increase your site’s organic CTR. We found that pages with a meta description had a 5.8% higher CTR compared to pages without a description.

Summary and Conclusion

Again, I’d like to thank Eric Siu from ClickFlow for helping make this study possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we collected and analyzed the data for this study, here is a PDF of our methods.

And now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway from this research?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, go ahead and leave a comment below.

The post We Analyzed 5 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About Organic Click Through Rate appeared first on Backlinko.

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How to Make Your Google Search Snippets More Clickable

sourced from: https://conversionxl.com/blog/google-search-snippets/

An alarming digital marketing trend should scare all online publishers: Organic traffic from Google is vanishing:

Google’s latest search elements (featured snippets and People Also Ask) steal clicks from organic listings.The first three positions account for over 50% of clicks. This means that you’re still “buried” on the bottom or middle of Page 1.Organic click-through rate (CTR) is declining across the board: The top position had a CTR of 38.7% in May 2014. As of June 2019, it was 31.0%.

On top of all that, most browser-based searches on Google result in zero clicks:

Zero-click searches result from Google’s ability to give quick answers on search result pages—current local weather, definitions, solutions to math problems, currency conversions, etc. (Image source)

Yet, Google remains the most effective online traffic source. With more than 3.5 billion searches a day (and 1.2 trillion per year) worldwide, a presence on Google isn’t optional. If a business isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist.

Search (read: Google) is still where most buying journeys start. It’s also the only scalable, sustainable source of free traffic. You may not like the trend, but there’s no alternative to Google’s traffic. So how can you still get organic clicks from a Google SERP?

Making your search snippets more clickable is a good place to start. Whether you rank first or fifth, improving your click-through rate is low-hanging fruit that will impact your bottom line—without a major investment in link-building or dedicated marketing campaign.

Here are things you can do to improve your click-through rate in Google.

1. Get more clickable links inside your search snippet.

There’s an accepted truth from email marketing: The more clickable links you have in your email, the more clicks you get. When web users see something that looks like a link, they feel compelled to click it. Links invite clicks; it’s as simple as that.

The same principle applies to Google’s search snippets. The only difference is that we can’t directly edit links’ appearance on a search results page (SERP) or—more importantly—how many links they choose to include.

There are two ways to increase your odds of having more than one clickable link inside your search snippet:

Create an on-page clickable table of contents.

Have you ever seen “Jump to” links inside a search snippet? They take you right to the part of the page with the information you’re searching for. Here’s what they look like:

And here’s what populates that link from the document:

Google’s “Jump to” link is populated by a “named anchor” HTML element that identifies (or “names”) a part of the document.

There are two ways to add these:

Do it manually. Create anchor links for fast navigation. This method requires a bit of work, but, on the bright side, you have full control over how you name your anchors and links for better usability and SEO-friendliness.Use a WordPress plugin like Easy Table of Contents. Automatically add a clickable, named-anchor table of contents to each article based on H2 and H3 subheads. Here’s a detailed tutorial on using this plugin.

Optimize for mini-sitelinks.

While generic sitelinks usually appear for navigational queries, mini-sitelinks may be triggered for all kinds of searches, and there may be more than one search snippet with mini-sitelinks on a SERP.

Both types of sitelinks rely on on-page navigation (and whether Google deems your navigational links relevant to the current query). This is what mini-sitelinks look like for an informational query:

You don’t have control over mini-sitelinks, but you can increase your odds of earning them. Google uses on-page clues to generate mini-sitelinks, especially:

On-page tables of contents (see above);Related content blocks underneath your content. This is the case in the screenshot above. Mini-sitelinks are populated from a “related reading” block underneath the article:

Having both (named anchors and related content blocks) increase your chances of getting those extra links.

2. Get more words in bold in your search snippet.

Bold font immediately attracts user eyes. Within search snippets, Google highlights certain words in bold to help users choose the best result. Having more words in bold inside your search snippet will help it stand out and likely attract more clicks.

Here’s how you can ensure that more words are highlighted in bold in your search snippets:

Use your target query strategically.

This is an easy one: Google will bold the query (or part of the query) that the user typed into the search box:

The obvious solution is to use your target query in your content (more than once) to give Google more opportunities to generate a search snippet with those words in bold. Note that I’m not talking about keyword density, a concept that should have been long forgotten (yet stubbornly reappears in our industry).

Strategic keyword usage means using your target query in prominent places around your document to ensure search crawlers and human readers instantly see them when landing on the page.

I previously wrote a detailed guide on keyword research, which lists places to include your target query:

Headline;URL slug;First paragraph;Subheadings.

Use related terms and synonyms.

Google has long moved away from exact keyword matching. These days, they understand search queries in context. Specifically, Google can understand closely related words as well as synonyms, which they often highlight in search results:

Google bolds related terms—not just exact keyword matches—that relate to the query.

You’re likely doing this already without realizing it. Good writers use varied vocabulary and include synonymous phrases and concepts without thinking about “click-through optimization.”

However, being a bit more strategic about it will help you on many fronts, including creating better, more thorough copy, improving your organic rankings, and, yes, increasing your click-through rate (CTR).

Tools you can use to make this easier

Ahrefs

Ahrefs has a cool section inside their “Keyword explorer” called “All keyword ideas.” This section offers “keyword extensions” (i.e. extending your base term into a longer phrase) and lists closely related terms you should consider using in your content.

To use the tool to go beyond your core term, use the “Exclude” filter to filter out phrases containing it:

Text Optimizer

Text Optimizer is the semantic research tool that goes right to the source—Google’s search snippets. It uses that data to generate a list of closely related terms and concepts.

You need to use common sense and editorial judgement to pick terms you want to use, but if you choose at least 25, you’re likely to see an organic visibility boost (i.e. higher rankings) and higher search snippet CTR:

The tool also helps you use those important phrases in close proximity. Click any term, and it generates possible sentences for you to use:

3. Structure your content well.

Optimize for enhanced snippets with structured markup.

Structured markup adds code to a webpage to make it easier for search crawlers to understand, extract, and display key information in SERPs.

When it comes to the actual search snippets, Google supports a limited number of structured markup types. Most supported structured markup helps Google include data in additional search elements (e.g., brand knowledge graph elements, video and image carousels, claim-review results, book reviews, etc.)

To impact your organic search snippets, you can use the following types of structured markup:

Structured markupWho/when it should be usedWhat it does to your search snippetRatings and reviewsTool reviewers, product reviewers, etc. If you review entities often, consider installing one of these plugins.Depending on how you implement it, the search snippet displays the reviewer’s name and the star ratings given.LogoEveryoneIn mobile search results, it shows a logo next to your search listing.BreadcrumbEveryoneOn desktop, it generates a prettier URL path showing section names instead of the actual URL. (On mobile, it is displayed this way, regardless of markup.)CourseIf your page lists available coursesShows a list of courses underneath your page title in SERPs.FAQIf your page contains a list of questions and answers around the target query. Shows a collapsible list of questions underneath the search snippet.How toIf your page contains a detailed how-to tutorial on any topicShows time required, list of required tools/materials, and collapsible steps to follow.Q&AIf your page features a question with multiple answers posted by usersLists all available answers, including the “best answer,” underneath your search snippet.

Create lots of comparison and summary charts and tables.

Google loves good-old tables and charts. They often use them to generate enhanced search snippets. Here’s what it may look like:

Notice how Google also highlights key sections of the chart in bold, making them stand out in search results even more.

And here’s the summary <table> that triggered the enhanced search snippet:

Note that the table is preceded by a keyword-based subhead, which may have helped Google discover it.

To give Google more reasons to generate enhanced search snippets, summarize multiple tools and tactics with tables.

4. Work on your title tags.

This is a no-brainer, which is why I’m not listing it first, even though it’s vital.

But some people don’t realize that the title tag (i.e. article headline) impacts the click-through rate from search results—not just rankings—as it’s the biggest clickable part of the search snippet.

Using well-discussed headline tricks (e.g., numbers, adding colons or hyphens to separate parts of the headline, experimenting with negative words, etc.) will likely help your page stand out in search and improve its CTR.

5. Update your ranking content regularly.

Google loves fresh content. So do users, which is why Google shows dates in search results:

Keeping your content up-to-date helps organic rankings and CTRs. However, don’t just re-publish the same content with a new date. Google may frown upon that.

To justify an updated publish date, you need to provide substantial new value. How “substantial” is up for discussion, but Ross Hudgens suggests that at least 5% of your content should be updated:

(Image source)

To make sure your content remains up-to-date, evaluate and update old content as part of your monthly marketing routine. Make it a task in your editorial calendar.

I use ContentCal to keep my team organized and alert them of upcoming projects:

Apart from organizing a content maintenance routine, the tool also urges your team to market it again, sending fresh signals to Google.

Tools to help you keep your content up to date

Revive

Animalz came out with a free tool that connects to Google Analytics, analyzes your traffic for the past 12 months, and identifies pages that have been steadily losing traffic:

By updating these pages, you may “revive” their performance in search results. A new publish date may help clickability, but, as part of the updating process, consider all the other tips in this tutorial.

Finteza

While Animalz looks at all your content, Finteza limits the audit to the pages that drive the most traffic. You need to have it installed for some time before you can access historical insights.

Once you accumulate some data, log in to your account and follow these steps:

Click “Websites” and open the report for the site you’re analyzing.In the left-hand panel, navigate to “Sources > Search” to access your organic traffic report. Until you disable it, this will filter all further reports.Click “Pages” to see the list of your best-performing pages. You can clearly see if any are losing clicks:

The report is ordered by the percentage of total traffic each page brings to the site, making it easy to monitor the most important assets.

Google Search Console

Finally, Google Search Console offers a helpful “CTR” report inside the “Performance > Search results” section, which you can use to monitor changes:

Click the “Pages” tab underneath the line chart. Then, filter pages for a minimum number of clicks to focus your attention on those that drive the most traffic:

Using a date range comparison, you can sort pages by changes to CTR, helping you identify those that would benefit from further optimization:

Once you identify a page that’s suffered a decline in CTR, you can add in “Average position” to see if a drop or rise in CTR was likely caused by a change in rankings—or something else. 

In the example below, the CTR declined substantially even though the average position remained the same. That suggests that a change to a SERP element (like a featured snippet) may be costing you clicks. 

From there, you can investigate the SERP to see if optimization of your content may help you recover those lost clicks.

Conclusion

Keeping your content well-structured, up-to-date, and in-depth will improve rankings, as well as click-through rate and on-page engagement. It’s a win-win.

Choose from the optimizations above to boost your overall content performance in an essential, albeit fickle, acquisition channel.

The post How to Make Your Google Search Snippets More Clickable appeared first on CXL.