When it comes to improving website traffic, click through rates are something you cannot overlook. Yet many do.
Many website owners focus on traffic, yet overlook one simple thing. One simple reality. That just because your website appears in search, does not mean someone will click on it.
Click Through Rates
Simply defined, a click through rate is the rate in which someone clicks. So for say every hundred times your website appears in search, how many times does a user click on it?
Five you say? Well your click through rate or CTR is 5%. Ten you say, well your CTR is 10%. Make sense?
Let's look at two different search queries (fancy name for search terms). First let's look at a more basic topic, "pasta recipe."
Look at the top results. Of the five shown, does one standout? Is there one that is just screaming, "click me." Do any of these speak to you. Make you feel like they have exactly what you need?
My gut is no. They're all pretty boring. Some have a date, others just text. None show any reviews, specifics, etc.
And there are some good names in there. Places like Food Network or All Recipes.
The point is, just because Serious Eats has the top ranking, do you click on them immediately? Or do you, like most, scan a few more results to see if one stands out.
How you appear in search plays an important role in driving traffic to your website. As does where you appear.
Speaking Of Standing Out
Now take a look at the results for the search query "Italian sauce recipe."
A few things result. First, Google is getting really good at answering our question(s) right in search.
Sure they give credit to the one providing the answer. In this case, All Recipes. But they go so far as to give you part of the directions, a nice photo, all without having to click to a website.
That is what is called search zero. It ranks above everything. Because it is providing a service.
Look further down and you see similar search queries to help you refine your question(s). Things like "how do you make spaghetti and meatballs" or "how do you make pasta sauce."
A little lower, you'll see three good recipes (in terms of appearance, I didn't taste them). They have pictures, always nice. Reviews on two of the three, nice again.
And equally if not most important a nice, relevant meta description (please read Search Terminology for more).
Click Through Rates
When it comes to search, improving results and increasing traffic, you must focus on click through rates. And to do that you must make sure you appear as best you can in the results.
You can't just leave it up to Google to pull whatever they can find from your site and make it look nice.
They'll try. But they may not get it right. While others are likely helping Google. They are structuring their data. Presenting it in a way that Google can better understand.
And the result? The better Google understands your site, the better they present you. And the better you are presented the higher your click through rates.