Note from Adam: This is a guest post by Olga Mykhoparkina, chief marketing officer at Chanty – a simple AI-powered team chat. They’ve been having some great results improving their organic click-through rates and getting more traffic from Google. So, I invited Olga to share what they’ve been doing with us. Below, you’ll find a simple process to follow and some key takeaways towards the end of the post. Enjoy!
Organic click-through-rate (CTR) is down 37 percent since 2015.
There’s no secret why: numerous ads here, there and everywhere, product carousels, featured snippets, ‘People also ask’ and more.
Search results are overcrowded. And to receive clicks, your link needs to be inarguably appealing, or you don’t stand a chance.
So, what’s the solution?
- Sit down and cry.
- Try harder until you get a goddamn result.
Over at Chanty, we’ve chosen the second way and tested a lot of CTR optimization methods. From crafting the title and description to updating the website with schema microdata. Eventually, we’ve achieved a threefold increase in Chanty CTR.
Interested in learning how?
Let’s dive deep into 5 ways you can raise your CTR game and beat the competition in search engine results pages (SERPs).
1. Know your audience
Marketing Manager Lenny. Small business owner Chris. Student Rebecca. Do you know who your blog readers are? Or better: how much do you know about them?
Your audience should be at the core of your overall marketing strategy and CTR optimization.
You’ve spent a ton of time and efforts to create a shiny, ingeniously great piece of content.
But what happens next?
Without knowing your target audience, you get content in front of the wrong people who will never-ever click on your link in Google.
Let’s drill further into the importance of knowing who your readers are.
Having a deep understanding of your target audience is crucial for content creation, product and business development, and really anything that relates to acquisition and retention, – not to mention CTR. Only the content that focuses on the unique struggles and meets the expectations of your readers can drive results.
Here comes the question: how do you get a better understanding of your audience?
Start with reaching out to your existing readers with a survey. If you’re on the fence about which questions to ask, feel free to use these canned templates. Then use a tool such as; SurveyMonkey, Google Forms or EmailMeForm to craft your first hassle-free survey.
If you don’t have any readers yet, do some research into the market and potential competitors yourself. Read business-related forums, check out Twitter and Reddit, surf Google like there’s no tomorrow. Spend a lot of time conducting the research. One evening in front of your laptop doesn’t count.
Okay, now you have a full picture of your target audience and their pain points. What’s next? It’s time to understand actually how they are trying to fulfill their needs.
In other words, what keywords do they use to find a useful article about self-management or healthy food? Use a tool like AnswerThePublic (or one of these) and tailor your blog posts to the discovered keywords.
2. Improve your headlines and meta descriptions
Appearing in Google search results is half of the battle. You have less than a second to grab visitors’ attention when they are scanning SERP. Don’t hide in your hoodie, make readers curious to find out more instead. Here’s the organic CTR of one Chanty team chat article:
Speaking of our overcrowded and insanely competitive market of team messengers, 20 percent is a great result. After endless tweaking every nook and cranny of our headlines and descriptions, we are ready to share the CTR optimization lessons we learned the hard way.
Feel free to steal these proven tactics to optimize your Google listing:
- Use emotional headlines. Use power words to make your headlines more compelling, e.g. simple, strange, excellent, promising, free, practical, profitable, weird, sure-fire, etc.
- Include numbers. The figures show that users are more likely to click on headlines that contain numbers, especially odd ones. Don’t avoid the opportunity to increase your CTR with this simple trick. And be sure to check the Google search results before and choose the number that your competitors don’t already use.
- Include brackets and special symbols that are proven catchers of user attention.
- Write compelling meta descriptions using proven copywriting techniques. Google may show a description generated from the content, but it’s still important to do.
- Use Adwords ads as inspiration. People put a ton of work into optimizing their Adwords campaigns. Therefore, the ads that you see for competitive keywords have usually passed thousands of split tests to become the click-worthy ads they are today.
3. Stand out from the crowd
While improving your headlines and meta descriptions can help, you shouldn’t stop there.
You need to make your search listing stand out further so you can get even more clicks.
And there are two main ways you can do this. Let’s take a look:
a) Using Rich Snippets
These go by a few other names – Schema and structured data. But let’s stick with Rich Snippets.
You’ve probably seen them before when searching Google.
Review stars, cooking times, event times, article information and more. We’ve even got them on our blog posts:
So how do you get rich snippets?
Put simply, rich snippets are pieces of code that you can add to your content to improve how search results are displayed in Google and other search engines.
And most importantly, since we’re dealing with “structured” data here, it actually makes it easier for search engine crawlers to understand your content.
The Schema.org website has more information on all of the different types of rich snippets you can use.
That’s great but reading that site can be off-putting to casual users. The good news is that if you use WordPress, there are a bunch of plugins you can use so you don’t have to mess with any code.
Be sure to check out this WP Superstars post on rich snippets plugins you can use.
b) Ranking for Featured Snippets
For certain search queries, Google will sometimes highlight a specific piece of content that’s ranking on page one.
This may be in the form of a paragraph, list, or table where Google pulls content from the page and displays it like so:
This is sometimes referred to as “position 0” because it’s an organic search results that sits above all other organic search results.
What’s super powerful about this is that it can allow you to jump a few ranking positions and effectively have two spots on page one. Awesome right?!
The figures show that featured snippets can steal a significant 8.6 percent of overall clicks for a given keyword.
So how do you rank for featured snippets?
You won’t need to mess around with any code or plugins. Instead, you’ll need to focus on optimizing your content for rich snippets.
Here are a few simple tips we’ve used to great affect:
- Check to see if our target keyword has a featured snippet – this can be done by searching Google (use an incognito browser window) or it can be done at scale while doing keyword research thanks to tools like Serpstat or Ahrefs.
- Answer questions directly in your post.
- Properly format your content using H1, H2, and H3 tags.
- Ensure your content has a logical flow.
- Expand your content to make it more detailed, and work on boosting engagement metrics.
The truth is that ranking for featured snippets does work slightly different depending on the type of featured image.
So, be sure to check out David Hartshorne’s guide to featured snippets, here on Blogging Wizard.
Google runs tests against many of their keywords so it’s possible that some keywords may have featured snippets now, and not in the future.
So that’d make optimizing them partly a waste of time right? Nope.
The process of optimizing for featured snippets helps to make your content more user friendly. This helps users get answers to their queries and makes them less likely to return to SERPs to continue their search.
This means more useful content – which is what we should all be striving for.
4. Don’t disappoint your readers
Poor content will never rank high, no matter how many special symbols you’ve put into the title. If the readers leave your blog immediately after visiting it, Google sighs with regret and drops the position of your resource. Why? Because Google wants you to publish content that makes users happy.
The more time users stay on your blog (so-called ’dwell-time’), the better you rank. On the other hand, the faster users go away (so-called ‘bounce rate’), the lower your spot on Google search is. The lower your position, the lower CTR. Simple math.
So make sure your content is worth reading. Creating quality content is the only way to get high CTR.
Here’s the big question:
How can you improve your dwell time, bounce rate and generate juicy blog posts? Check out the following surefire tricks to dust off and polish up your content:
1. Create content with a clear purpose – Every article you publish should add value to the readers. Educate your target audience, make them smile, solve their challenges.
2. Become a storyteller – You may agree that there is still a lot of dull, dry as a bone, ‘content for the sake of content’ articles. It’s challenging to find content that is both interesting and useful. That’s why our human-friendly, experience-based articles like Using Slack Alternatives gets readers’ love and attention. So express your opinion in both your articles, and your headlines. Add words like ‘my experience’, ‘our feedback’, and ‘I’ve tried’ to resonate with your readers.
3. Use ultra short paragraphs of 1-3 sentences – The truth is people scan content rather than read. So, create easy-to-skim content to grab their attention. Short paragraphs boost readability and improve dwell time. Resist the urge to use lengthy sentences too.
4. Cut the fluff. Although Google loves long reads, avoid being repetitive and boring.
5. At the same time, make your content insanely in-depth – Research the competition and make it better. Longer. Bolder. Valuable content is the best way to prevent your readers from bouncing.
6. Include images, videos, GIFs, tables, numbered and bulleted lists – Everything that makes visitors spend a couple of extra minutes on your blog.
7. Deliver on the promise you make in your headline – Getting those clicks is important, but it’s equally important to ensure that your content delivers on the promises you make in the headline (and meta description, too, of course).
5. Test, test, test
Last but not least: start testing optimization tactics in a controlled way.
Eighty percent of your content will be wasted (remember the 80/20 rule?). On average, about five percent of content bring noteworthy results. Only five percent! So be prepared that the vast majority of your articles can sink without a trace. Math is a cruel science. Nevertheless, there are a few steps you can take to try to boost your hit rate:
- For every assumption you make you need to follow the “launch – measure – improve – repeat” cycle
- Experiment a lot to discover what actually works
- Scale what works
CTR optimization is not rocket science. Everyone can be good at it. All you need is a drop of creativity and an ocean of patience to keep on testing.
Improving CTR is crucial for a reason.
The number of clicks to your blog influences your traffic and, ultimately, the position of your content in SERPs.
Now, here’s a quick recap of what you need to do:
- Look at your target audience under a microscope and learn all you can about them
- Use compelling headlines to make a statement and attract new readers
- Stand out in a crowd with rich snippets and featured snippets
- Produce content that you yourself would get interested in
- Test out as many optimization tactics as possible in a controlled way (then scale what works)
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