Neil Patel

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Measuring and Improving Your Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR)

A graphic saying "Measuring and Improving Your Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR)

It’s not enough to rank on the first page of Google.

If you want your SEO strategy to pay off (and by that, I mean more traffic, customers, revenue, etc.), then searchers need to actually click on your result.

How can you increase the chances they do? By optimizing your organic click-through rate (CTR), of course!

Your organic click-through rate is the percentage of searchers who click your link on the search engine results page.

Ranking towards the top of the page automatically gives you better CTRs. The top three organic positions have a CTR of 39.8%, 18.7 percent, and 10.2 percent respectively.

But you can also use dozens of strategies to make your link irresistible to searchers. I’m going to teach you my top 20 strategies below.

Let’s jump straight in.

Key Takeaways

  • Your organic click-through rate is the percentage of people who click on your link in Google’s SERPs.
  • Calculate organic CTR by dividing the total number of organic clicks by the total number of organic impressions.
  • A high organic CTR means more search traffic. It can also mean you don’t have to necessarily rank in the top three to see amazing results.
  • A high organic CTR can lead to better rankings. While Google has neither confirmed nor denied that CTR is a ranking factor, some SEOs believe the more your link gets clicked, the higher it will rank.
  • There are several strategies you can use to improve your organic CTR, including writing descriptive URLs, adding CTAs to your meta descriptions, A/B testing headlines, and using tools like Yoast Preview.

Why Should You Care About Your Organic CTR?

It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? The higher your organic click-through rate, the more traffic you will get. Your organic CTR and SEO work hand-in-hand in this regard. You need both factors working together to turn high rankings into traffic.

A high organic CTR also means you don’t necessarily have to rank at the top to get a lot of traffic. While that certainly helps, there’s no reason that a page ranking fourth can’t get more traffic than the top three links if it’s particularly enticing.

In other words, you can use CTRs in your SEO efforts to effectively leapfrog competitors.

Organic CTRs can even help you improve your SEO strategy by focusing your efforts on worthwhile keywords.

Let’s say you rank in the top three positions for a keyword but are getting really low CTRs. You optimize your result using some of the strategies I explain below, but the needle still doesn’t move.

This could suggest that this keyword isn’t worth the effort. A snippet or other SERP feature might be taking all the traffic. So, unless you can nab that spot, it’s probably better to focus your efforts elsewhere.

Finally, high organic CTRs can even lead to better rankings. There’s no clear evidence Google uses click-through rates as a ranking factor, but it certainly can’t hurt to have searchers click your link more than the other results—and it may see your ranking move up the page as a result.

How to Improve Click-Through Rate

Okay, so you know what organic CTR is and why it’s important. Now, let me explain how to improve your click-through rate using the following strategies.

1. Use Long-Tail Keywords

The first way to boost your organic CTR is by using long-tail keywords—especially in your headings and title tags. Long-tail keywords are highly descriptive, and are more likely to match search intent, as a result.

When users see a descriptive and relevant long-tail keyword, they’re motivated to click on your URL as they’re confident your post will contain the information they’re looking for.

How do you find long-tail keywords that meet user intent? By using keyword research tools like Ubersuggest.

Simply plug in your seed keyword in the search bar and click “search.” Next, click on the “Keyword Ideas” in the left sidebar.

Keyword Ideas in Ubersuggest.

The tool will serve up a list of keywords of varying length. All you’ve got to do is choose the ones relevant to your post and include them in your page title and meta description.

2. Write Effective Meta Descriptions

Another strategic way of improving your organic CTR is to write compelling meta descriptions. These are the snippets of text that appear below your title tag in the SERPs.

An effective meta description informs users what your page is about and compels them to click through to your post.

The meta description for my article on SEO experiments is a pretty good example if I do say so myself:

A meta description for a Neil Patel article.

Again, long-tail keywords will come in handy here. Use them to show searchers your article solves their problem. Other ways of optimizing your meta description to increase your organic CTR include:

  • Answering questions: If you can answer your users’ questions in the meta description, you’ve won half the battle driving your organic click-through rate up.
  • Make it specific and relevant: You only have 160 characters to craft a meta description, so you must make yours as specific and relevant as possible.
  • Powerful language: Use persuasive and powerful language, such as emotionally charged words, to elicit strong responses associated with your post to improve your CTR.

Meta descriptions shouldn’t just be a product feature—turn it into an elevator pitch to convince users you have the content and solution for them. If possible, you can also add a CTA (such as “learn more” and “find out how.”)

3. Implement Structured Data

Implementing structured data is a great way to “speak” to search engine algorithms. You can do this by using to add code to your content that search engines can read. This will help them display rich, interactive search results. These are commonly called rich snippets—something we’ll talk more about later.

This type of search result attracts more clicks because:

  • It appears at the top of the SERPs.
  • It’s more attractive than plain URLs.
  • It gives more information at a glance.

Implementing structured data will boost your organic CTR rates as people love interactive content.

4. Create Posts With Images

Using images in your posts is a common practice, but did you know it can also improve your organic CTR?

When you snag a featured snippet in Google, there’s a good chance that one or more of the images from your article will appear.

Look how much more clickable the featured snippet becomes:

A featured snippet example.

For this to work, you must implement image SEO best practices, such as properly naming your images and adding alt text.

5. Use Descriptive URLs

Your page URL is one of the main pieces of information shown on SERPs. Optimizing it can improve your organic CTR.

One way you can do that is by making it as descriptive as possible, like the example below:

An example of a descriptive URL.

Try to include your keyword in your URL naturally. This will reinforce the core topic your post is about, thereby showing users that your content is relevant.

Another tip for optimizing your URL is to keep it short. This makes it easier on the eye and more attractive. As a result, more people will click on it.

If you’re a WordPress user, you can change the URL structure in your permalink settings. I like using the “post name” setting.

6. Simplify Your Title Format

Your title tag is another part of the information displayed on the SERPs, and you must take your time to format it properly. The best way to do so is to keep it simple.

Remember, people usually skim through the search results, looking for the most relevant result. If your title is simple and clearly explains the post, you’ll drive more clicks.

I like to make sure my title tag mirrors the user’s search and hints at what they’ll learn when they click my link:

A title tagfrom the Neil Patel blog

In the past, people used to add their corporate or personal branding to title tags. But I don’t think it is relevant anymore.

As you can see in the image above, Google’s new results page automatically adds my branding to my result, so there’s no need to crowd the title tag by adding my name at the end.

Want to see what your title tag will look like before you hit publish? Use this tool from Avid Demand.

7. Localize Your Content

Mobile phones have overtaken desktops as the leading internet traffic source. Because most mobile users let their phones access their location, Google (and therefore you) can offer localized results.

Stat counter global stats.

Localizing your content will improve your local rankings (since it’s a local ranking factor), and it should also make users more likely to click. After all, 66 percent of consumers expect companies to understand their unique needs, and 52 percent expect every offer to be personalized.

One way of localizing your content is to add your location to your content, meta description, and title tag. Another tip is to list your business on Google Business Profile (GBP). When users make local searches, your location and other business info will appear in the search results.

8. Use the Listicle Format

People love lists.

Why? Because listicles require minimal cognitive effort to digest. So, if you hint that your content is a list in your title tag (like I did with this piece), there’s a good chance users will be more inclined to click.

Another organic CTR-boosting reason to use listicles is that they can increase your chances of appearing in featured snippets.

A featured snippet example in Google.

Research shows almost one-fifth of featured snippets are lists—the second most common element behind paragraphs of text.

Notice how the headline doesn’t include a number, yet Google shows users that the post is a listicle in the featured snippet? Google’s SERP knows what content types are most useful to its audiences, and using listicles is bound to boost your organic CTR.

9. A/B Test Headlines on Social Media

Want a scientific way to find the best page title for your article? Then try A/B testing it on social media.

An A/B test is where you test two versions of something to determine which performs better. In this case, we’re going to be posting two different versions of our page title on social media to see which gets more clicks and likes.

Start by writing a great headline using a tool like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, and then share your article on your social profiles.

CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer

Give it a few days, and then change the title of your headline and re-publish your post. I recommend making your new headline completely different. So, if you had a benefits-focused headline first, try a clickbait headline next. Other changes you could make include:

  • Adding numbers
  • Adding the year
  • Adding [Updated]
  • Asking a question

Wait the same number of days, then check your engagement. The headline that drives the most engagement is the winner.

10. Use Yoast Preview (in WordPress)

Yoast is another SEO tool WordPress users can use to improve their organic CTR. Before you publish your post, preview your snippet as it will appear on SERPs. Then, you can make changes according to the recommendations given.

The Yoast SEO tool.

This will help you see if any keywords are cut off and if your snippet makes sense. It also works for mobile, too, so there is no need to worry about cross-platform searches.

11. Use Google Ads to Preview (Other CDN)

Google’s Anonymous Ad Preview Tool is an ad preview and diagnostics tool that shows you exactly what the SERPs currently look like for any search term in any country.

It’s a great way to quickly see what you’re up against when brainstorming page titles and meta descriptions— and for seeing how your organic result will change depending on the user’s device.

The SERP for "what is an SEO consultant"

You can also use the tool to quickly see if you’re up against a featured snippet, just like my result in the image above.

12. Identify CTR Winners and Losers

A clever way to improve your organic CTR based on your target audience’s behavior is to analyze the performance of your current pages.

This will show you which pages, titles, and content types are performing well and which are performing poorly.

You can use Google Analytics to find everything you need to know.

First, go to “Acquisition,” then “Search Console,” then “Queries” to see which Google searches lead to your current pages.

Traffic results in Google Search Console

The report will show you valuable information like your pages’ clicks, impressions, CTR, and average SERP position. It also shows bounce rates, sessions, conversions, and other useful data.

You can also check your landing pages in the same menu.

Using these two reports, you can see what works and what doesn’t. For example, you may find all the pages with numbers in the title have much higher CTRs. If that were the case, it would be a good idea to include numbers in the titles of your new pages as often as possible.

Don’t forget to optimize your existing pages based on these findings, too. If page titles containing questions perform poorly, for instance, you should test what happens when you turn those questions into statements.

13. Optimize Site Speed

With Google prioritizing Page Experience and Core Web Vitals as ranking factors, site speed has never been more important.

If your website isn’t optimized for speed, people may click on your link, but will quickly bounce off, negatively affecting your organic CTR. To put it in perspective, a leap from one to three seconds in site speed on mobile devices increases bounce rates by 32 percent.

An infographic showing the impact of page load time on bounce rate.

Again, this is where a tool like Ubersuggest comes in handy.

To check your site speed, enter your URL into the search bar and click “Search.” Next, head to the left side of the sidebar and click “Site audit.” Scroll down to “Site Speed,” and you’ll be shown the loading time for mobile and desktop. In addition to loading time, it also tests:

  • First Contentful Paint
  • Speed Index
  • Time to Interactive
  • First Meaningful Paint
  • First CPU Idle
  • Est. Input Latency

Ubersuggest will outline where you can make site improvements. Take its guidance into consideration, make the necessary changes, and then test your site speed again.

14. Utilize Rich Snippets

As I mentioned earlier, rich snippets are another way to drive clicks to your website. These are search results where Google highlights the top result by including a snippet of text, an image, or a video:

A rich snippet in Google.

The only ways to show those reviews and ratings in search results are either (A) activating a rich snippet plugin or (B) coding it manually. The extra information (like ratings, for example), helps users decide whether to click on your URL or not.

15. Activate Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumb navigation” is coined after the trail of breadcrumbs left by Hansel and Gretel to find their way back home. Just like in the fairy tale, its secondary navigation helps you easily trace your steps back on a website.

The primary purpose of breadcrumb navigation is to provide users with a positive user experience by making it easier for them to navigate your site. In theory, this should mean users spend more time on your site and bounce less often—resulting in higher rankings.

And, if you’ve learned one thing from this article, you’ll know higher rankings mean a higher organic CTR.

Activating breadcrumb navigation on your website is not an option. It’s vital to your success and must be a deliberate part of your strategy. Here are detailed instructions on how you can do just that.

16. Use Heatmaps to Improve Site Clicks

Want to know what your users care most about on your page? Then use a heatmap tool:

A heatmap tool being used.

A heatmap helps you understand where users focus their attention and where they click.

What’s this got to do with organic CTRs or SEO?

When you understand what users hone in on when reading your page, you can highlight that content in your page title and meta description. That should make more people click.

With that said, you can also use a heatmap to redesign your web pages to increase their stickiness.

When people spend more time on your website and engage with it by clicking through to other pages, search engines take it as a signal that your content is valuable. On the other hand, if your bounce rate is high, your website will be ranked lower, as search engines see that as a sign that your content is unhelpful.

17. Write Effective Calls-to-Action

If you really want searchers to click on your link, there’s no better way than including a call to action (CTA) in your content—one that makes it almost impossible for a user not to click.

What are some good CTAs to include? My favorites are:

  • Discover how…
  • Read more…
  • Get started…
  • Download a…

Each of these shows searchers they stand to gain something by clicking my link, whether that’s an answer to their question, knowledge they didn’t yet know, or a free download they can use.

18. Create High-Quality, Useful Content

It doesn’t matter how well you optimize your content or your page title and meta description; no one will click or read low-quality or unhelpful content.

That’s why my final organic CTR optimization tip is to create the best content possible. There are a couple of ways to do this.

The first is to use a tool like Answer the Public to write content that answers users’ most common questions. The more relevant your content, the more interested readers will be. You can even use the tool to create engaging question-based page titles that entice readers to click.

The results page in Ubersuggest.

The second is to go against the grain and offer something different from the other pages currently ranking on page 1. So often, the first page is a sea of sameness—everyone writes about the same topic from the same angle.

You can make your content stand out by taking a new perspective or a different approach. Speak to an industry expert to get a new angle, for instance, or highlight that you’re giving away something like a free ebook or checklist in your page title and meta description.

Organic CTR Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good organic CTR?

The average organic CTR is between 3-5 percent. However, a good organic CTR is not benchmarked against industry standards but against your own CTR curve.

What Is the significance of organic CTR ?

Organic CTR is an important metric to track as it impacts your rankings and the amount of traffic that comes to your website.

What are some common reasons for a low CTR?

Common reasons for low CTR include metadata that’s not compelling enough. It could also be because of not utilizing rich snippets among other things.

Is a high CTR good or bad?

Having a high CTR is good for business as it means more traffic to your website. It also means better brand awareness as your rankings will improve.

How do you calculate organic click-through rate?

You can calculate your organic click-through rate by dividing the organic clicks your page receives by the total number of organic impressions. Alternatively, Google Search Console can calculate each page’s CTR automatically.

Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR) Conclusion

Getting on the first page of Google’s results is only half the battle. To really reap the rewards of your SEO strategy, you need to optimize your organic click-through rate to ensure as many users as possible click your link.

Don’t go overboard and try all of the tips I list above at once, however. I recommend diving into your Google Analytics 4 reports first to find out which pages need the most help and trying one or two strategies at a time—that way, you can test which strategies work for your brand.

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