Most SEO professionals believe that CTR influences search results. They also believe that a high bounce rate, low time on site, low pages per visit and other similar metrics, when looked at in relation to the industry the website belongs to, can have SEO impact. Or, at the very least, are strong indicators of quality content. CTR (Click Through Rate) in particular is a very important one. This tells us how many times users are clicking on your organic search listing based on how often it is shown. So if you have a higher CTR, you get more traffic.
In pay per click, we look at CTR numbers on a daily basis. But in the case of SEO, you don’t see it discussed as often. In fact, I think it is fair to say that most websites do not update the items on their site that influence SEO CTR often enough. In some cases, websites don’t touch these items on the page for months or even years.
What Influences CTR
CTR in the Google and Bing organic search results is influences by the URL, title and description shown in search results. In addition to this, schema.org markup (rich snippets) can show up in search, as well as rel author, rel publisher, etc. Each of these items can influence your CTR.
How to Improve your CTR with Webmaster Tools
In the search traffic report in webmaster tools there is a column for click through rate. I recommend navigation to that column and sorting from highest to lowest CTR for a search term. Next evaluate the CTR of each term. Look for pages with very high CTR and pages with very low CTR. Following this, take note of your top pages and incorporate those on-page elements into the rest of the site (title, description, URL, snippets, etc). Also, take a look at the pages that are performing poorly and make sure to keep in mind what doesn’t work and update those pages.
When you are doing this evaluation process, make sure to keep in mind the number of clicks, impressions and average position of the page (webmaster tools gives you this data). Also, take a look at the search query and make sure it is relevant for the page. It is important to think of the context of your data. If you only received one impression and one click, that CTR is not very valuable for your analysis. But if you received 1,000 impressions, 200 clicks and that search term is on the first two pages of Google, that would be data worth working with. One of the keys to this exercise is looking at the data in relation to the overall numbers on the website, as reported in this Webmaster Tools report. So make sure to work in this context.
One more bonus note to end the blog. You can click on each search result. When you do this, it shows you the URLs that are being served for that query. If you have multiple URLs being served for one search term, that shows Google is confused about your website and which page is the best for a particular query. This of course is worth evaluating too. Look at the page with the higher CTR and better content, then adjust accordingly (transfer content, update internal linking, 301 redirects when necessary, etc). This is particularly important to do so that you avoid thin content post Panda update as well.