on January 25, 2023 • 21 minute read
Earning a high organic search ranking is great – unless no one is clicking on your result.
Over the last few years, Google has played the “Loves me, loves me not” game in the sense that there’s still no compelling evidence that suggests CTR is a direct ranking signal.
This led to a lot of SEOs focusing more on discoverability rather than turning those searchers into readers (and even customers).
Organic CTR simply doesn’t give you a good indication of traffic quality and can’t help with predicting conversions. However, improving it will lead to more traffic and an overall positive impact on your site.
So, ranking factor or not, CTR is certainly worth optimizing and paying attention to.
For this post, we talked to 130+ marketers and got them to share some of their best tips for improving CTR that you can apply in your business.
We’ll also go through what organic CTR is, why it matters, the factors that affect it, and what’s a good CTR you should strive for.
Jump to the section you’re most interested in:
Organic click-through rate (CTR) refers to the percentage of users that click on an organic search engine result.
The ranking position is the main determiner of organic CTR, but there are other influences as well (e.g. title tag, URL, and description).
You can calculate organic CTR by using this formula:
Organic clicks / total impressions = Organic CTR
So, for instance, if you have a high ranking for a keyword that 1,000 users search for each month and 100 of them click on the result, your organic CTR will be 10%.
Before we present any data, we want to start off by saying that there’s no universally good CTR for all businesses.
What might seem like a great organic CTR in one industry could be terrible in another one.
Organic CTR can sometimes be even close to 100%, if the users are searching for branded terms (e.g. “Databox Google Ads Dashboards”).
For generic category terms like “vegetarian restaurants + city”, a good CTR could be around 10-20%.
Overall, it can vary for a number of reasons. Pretty much the only guarantee is that if you’re ranked #1 on Google, you’ll get more clicks and a better CTR than your competitors (to be precise, 10x more than the #10 result).
According to Databox’s own Benchmark data, the median CTR value for all business types is 1.99%. This benchmark was calculated from anonymized data from close to 450 companies.
Do you want to benchmark your SEO performance, including impressions, average position, CTR and clicks against other companies like yours? Join the Benchmark Group for free here.
Viewing benchmark data can be enlightening, but seeing where your company’s efforts rank against those benchmarks can be game-changing.
Browse Databox’s open Benchmark Groups and join ones relevant to your business to get free and instant performance benchmarks.
So, we could say that anything over 2% can be considered a good CTR for organic search.
But, while benchmarks can be very useful, John Reinesch of Beacon Digital Marketing says that you don’t have to rely only on them to determine what a good CTR is for your website.
Instead, he recommends the following process:
“We pull in our query data from Google Search Console, and with that data, we calculate our average CTR at each of the top 10 positions that we rank in. This gives us our own CTR curve so that we don’t have to use industry benchmarks but can use our own data for more accurate results.”
“Once we have this benchmark CTR by position, we compare each of the keywords we rank for to that benchmark. This gives us data that we can then filter down to only keywords with a below-average CTR.”
“The next step is to sort the data by impressions so we can see the keywords that we rank for that have the highest volume but below-average CTRs. This helps us easily prioritize title tag and meta description rewrites and allows us to get the most impact from this effort by using data to determine where the opportunity is.”
Benchmark Groups gave us a very useful insight into how hundreds of companies fare in organic CTR ratios, but we also did a survey to check the average organic CTR among our respondents.
According to nearly half of our respondents, their average click-through rates range between 3-5%.
Although this is a self-reported number, it gives you an insight into the performance of notable industry experts.
We already mentioned above how your SERP ranking has the most influence on your organic CTR, but it’s not the only factor you need to consider.
There are also:
Universal search is Google’s “separate” engine through which users can get a more comprehensive layout for their queries.
It blends several types of results to provide the most relevant information, which can include videos, images, news, books, maps, etc.
But what does this have to do with CTR?
Well, universal search might cause fluctuations in your CTR rate at some point.
For instance, if there’s a news article dominating the search engine during one specific period, and it’s targeting the same keywords as you are, you’ll probably get fewer clicks until things calm down.
Matching a user’s search intent is crucial in getting them to click on your page link.
However, there are also situations in which your content will prove helpful to the user, but you won’t get a click. This is the case with informational searches.
If you’re ranking #1 on Google for a specific answer to a question (e.g. “Who won Wimbledon 2022”), the users will see your featured snippet pop up and some won’t bother opening the article since their question is already answered.
This leads to a lower organic CTR rate, even if your content was valuable to the user.
Conversely, if users are searching for more in-depth topics like “How to meditate for beginners”, they’re more likely to visit your web page and see what tips you have to offer.
As you already know, SERP results are laid out differently depending on whether you use a mobile or desktop device. This can often lead to different CTRs between the two.
Because of the extra “mobility”, mobile users tend to go further down the first page and are less likely to click on top-ranked results.
Lastly, the industry you’re in can also influence CTR ratios.
For instance, industries like technology or finance tend to have higher CTRs because the readers are looking for more information on the topic.
This is especially the case if you want to check the opinion of several sources – if you’re looking for product reviews and comparisons, e.g.
To optimize your website for organic search, you probably use Google Search Console to learn which pages receive the most impressions and clicks, and which queries are driving them. Now you can quickly assess your SEO performance in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, including:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Search Console experts, who have put together a great Databox template showing the most important KPIs for monitoring organic search performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up this Google Search Console Dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Search Console account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
While improving your SERP ranking is probably the best way to ensure more clicks, it’s not the only thing you should rely on.
We asked our respondents to share some of their best tips and practices for improving organic CTR and here’s what they had to say:
No matter how great your article is, no one will get to read it if you don’t craft an interesting headline that will hook the readers.
It’s the first thing they’ll see related to your webpage, and if you don’t do it properly, it could be the last.
Fortunately, there are multiple tried-and-true formulas and frameworks that you can incorporate when coming up with a magnetic title that will attract more clicks.
There’s just something about our brains that draws us to numbered lists. Even certain studies have proven that titles with numbers in them generate more engagement.
Visitors are used to listicles being easier to read and they can skim the information a lot faster, drawing them to click.
What’s also interesting is that odd numbers can be more engaging than even numbers. According to Content Marketing Institute, people tend to trust odd numbers more. They even did an experiment where they changed a specific title to include the number 7, which increased CTR rates by 20%!
Also, numbers don’t have to be necessarily tied to lists. You can use numbers in form of presenting data (“How We Increased Our Conversation Rates by 287%) or even discounts (“Stylish Winter Jackets -30% Off”).
Brackets are a great way to provide an extra bit of information about what your post is about and draw users to click on the page.
You’re essentially giving the readers a sneak-peak into your content and highlighting a certain aspect
For instance: How to Write Better Articles [Even if You’re a Total Beginner]
HubSpot conducted a study where they found that headlines that included brackets had 40% more clicks.
People want to stay on top of the latest updates, which is why including recent dates can be a real power move in getting more clicks.
For instance, if someone were to search Google for “Best stocks to buy”, they’d be more inclined to click on the page that has “November 2022” next to the title.
Naturally, investors are more interested in reading the latest predictions and reasonings than an article that might be outdated.
And they won’t be the only ones who appreciate the date clarification – Google’s algorithm will also flag your content as relevant.
If you’ve talked to or interviewed some influential names in your industry for the article, you can mention that in the title to draw more clicks.
This is something you can often see with our articles since we regularly carry out surveys and research where we ask dozens of industry experts to share their tips, strategies, ideas, and experiences.
Jim Milan of Auto Accessories Garage also recommends this method because “title tags that include social proof tend to get clicked on more frequently because people tend to trust those search results more. An example of a title tag that includes social proof would be ‘Top 10 SEO Books Recommended by the Experts.’”
“The searcher sees that these are not just the 10 best SEO books in the publisher’s mind; these are also recommended by experts, and those experts are probably quoted in the article.”
Not all words are created equal – some prompt users to take action, while others are blandly neutral.
Words that carry emotional impact are referred to as “power words” and marketers love including them both within titles and CTAs.
Here’s one example you can use for inspiration:
Of course, make sure that the power words you end up using are actually related to what you’re saying, don’t just pick them randomly or by preference.
Alexander Porter of Search It Local that the best way to find proper power words is to break down your target audience’s “likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, and motivations and mannerisms.”
“Feed these into your page titles to place a hook in the subconscious of your prospects and draw them in. Avoid buzzwords and industry jargon. Instead, focus on powerful emotional triggers.”
“Remember, people are more motivated to move away from pain than they are to move towards pleasure, so use what little characters you have to paint a picture of a better business, a better process, a better life, and you’ll see an improvement in your organic CTR,” Porter says.
Related: 25 Blog Title Examples That Get High Organic Search CTRs
Google has confirmed that URLs are a minor ranking factor that they examine when a page’s relevance to a search query.
But search engines aren’t the only ones examining them, so do users. It’s an easy and quick way to check out what your page is about.
Just look at the URL of this article: www.databox.com/improve-organic-ctr – people will rather click on a descriptive URL like this one than something like www.databox.com/product=success/15325?
The three main URL elements are the length, path, and category (if there is one), so make sure you keep these things optimized.
Related: How to Create SEO-Friendly URLs: 11 Expert Tips
Meta descriptions are valuable SERP real estate, but for some reason, a lot of marketers still write them half-heartedly or only use them as a place to fit a few extra keywords.
This mistake can cost you clicks.
You should focus on writing an informative meta description that explains to the users what the page is about and hooks them to go through the post. Think of it as a pitch.
Here is an example from our own website.
However, also keep in mind that Google won’t necessarily showcase the meta description you have added.
This is not a bad thing, and you should still always optimize the description yourself.
Here are a few tips on how you can do it:
Featured snippets are the highlighted text excerpts that pop up at the top of a search result page (also referred to as “Position 0”).
Since most users will read the featured snippet and open the page from which it comes from, they can be a great persuasion asset.
In case you have some content ranking on the first page and it doesn’t have a featured snippet, you can get it by summarizing the answer to a search query in one paragraph (preferably somewhere at the beginning of the article).
Rich snippets are very similar, but the main difference is that rich snippets are enhanced organic search results (not answers to specific questions).
Having rich snippets can help you stand out from the competition, especially because most of the 1st page results lack them.
When a page does have rich snippets, it generally provides more information such as images, reviews, ratings, website icons, price information, etc.
One of the best ways to optimize your content for rich snippets is through schema markups.
Schema markup is a technique that you can use to describe what your site is about to Google bots, so they have a better understanding of the content.
This involves adding pre-defined HTML elements (not visible to users) beneath the surface, so the bots run into them when crawling your website.
Some of the most frequent schema markup types include organization, person, local business, FAQ, video, event, breadcrumbs, image, article, and product.
Here’s an example of a FAQ Schema:
Martin Schwarz of Coincierge reveals that structured data implementation is one of the best ways to “take up as much SERP space as possible and capture the attention of searchers”.
“The more virtual storefront we have, the longer users get to look at our results, which increases CTR—just like the longer you look at a shop window, the more likely you are to enter the shop. And the better we catch the eyes of the user, the more likely they are to click,” Schwarz says.
And he’s not the only one of our respondents that have seen success with rich snippets/structured data. Apparently, 60.45% of our respondents report structured data to be more useful, while 32.84% prefer rich snippets.
Sitelinks are the links that appear beneath the meta description of some Google results and lead to other pages on the website. Readers use them to find relevant information faster.
Because they take up a certain amount of space, they make your page link more visible, which in turn can lead to higher CTR rates. It also improves user experience since they can cut their path short by directly jumping to sections they’re most interested in.
Google doesn’t show sitelinks for every website, which means it’s also regarded as a sign of trust.
While you can’t directly push sitelinks into Google’s algorithm, you can optimize your content so Google has a better chance of showing them.
This is done by creating named sections within your post that lead to specific content headings.
If your website has hundreds of pages and articles, you might have a hard time determining where to start your CTR optimization journey.
The most rational approach is to begin with the pages that have the lowest CTRs.
You can find them by using Google Search Console, here’s how:
Next, you can filter the results even further with impressions to check out which pages get the most impressions, but not enough clicks. These are the pages you need to focus on.
Keyword cannibalization is when you have several pages optimized for identical keywords, leaving Google confused about which one to rank higher.
While this has the most effect on your SEO efforts, it also leads to lower CTRs on several pages since users will only click on one of them to get the information they need.
The best way to find cannibalization issues is to scan your website for content that has the same keywords and satisfies the same search intent.
Once you spot the issue, you can fix it by consolidating the pages that are competing with one another. So, if you have several pages explaining how to meditate, maybe you can combine them in one ultimate guide (e.g.).
While this could easily slip past most marketers as a method for increasing organic CTR, improving your page load time could play a huge role.
If your page takes forever to load, users might click on your website and then quickly bounce off, tired of waiting.
This negatively affects your organic CTR since the click only counts if the user lands on the website.
Related: 15 Website Speed Optimization Tips That Anyone Can Implement
Building a memorable brand is the best CTR optimization technique.
Have you ever searched for something on Google and clicked on a specific website’s page because you recognized the brand and had a positive experience with them in the past?
This happens more than you think and users will click on the brand they’re familiar with, regardless of its ranking.
Of course, this technique can take some time, but you can cut it at least a bit shorter with Facebook and Google Ads.
By using Facebook or Google Ads, you can retarget ads to people who’ve seen your website sometime in the past, making them remember the brand (even if it’s subconsciously).
Related: 11 Facebook Retargeting Tips For Converting Warm Leads
Mobile devices pull in 54.8% of online searches, which is why a lot of marketers have started localizing their content in the past year or two.
Since most mobile devices have their location turned on, Google takes it into consideration during the search and offers local solutions.
By localizing your content, you can reach your target audience directly, increase CTR rates, and get more high-intent prospects.
One of the best ways to do this is to include your location in the content, title tag, and meta description. Also, you can add your business to Google My Business (GMB) listings since that puts your business on Google Maps.
Related: Google My Business SEO: 8 Tips to Optimize Your Business for Local Searches
“PPC? I thought we were learning how to improve organic CTR!”
Hear us out.
If you have a keyword you’re ranking high for, but it has a low CTR, you should create a PPC ad around it for two reasons.
Firstly, you’ll take up more SERP real estate and increase the chances of readers clicking on one of your pages.
But more importantly, you can use the PPC ads to test different titles and descriptions to check out which copy has more success.
Once you determine the winner, you can apply that copy to your organic page.
Nowadays, most search result pages on any given topic all look like one another.
They offer similar (sometimes even identical) advice, tips, best practices, etc. A lot of times, pages will simply “recycle” content from the top results and not provide literally any new perspective on the issue.
While this is pretty unfortunate for readers, it can also be viewed as an opening for businesses to take things a step further and see which gaps they can fill.
Do your own research, talk to an industry expert, provide some information that can’t be found elsewhere… these are all things that will make your content original and stand out.
Providing something of value doesn’t have to be purely informational – it can also refer to free shipping or a free product if you’re an eCommerce site.
Kirsty Finlayson of Typeform agrees with this and adds that you should always aim to “surprise the user”.
“Look at the SERP that you want to dominate. It’s going to look pretty similar (even boring), so do something to surprise them. Make your offer sound exciting and better than the rest—use humor, adjectives, and make it stand out from the get-go.”
Even though CTR might not be a direct ranking signal, it does play an important role in the success of your SEO strategies.
However, it’s only one of the metrics you’ll need to track to ensure optimal results.
Domain authority, page speed, keyword rankings, backlinks… there are dozens of SEO metrics you’ll need to Frankenstein together to understand how your website is performing and where it needs to be optimized.
And as you’ve probably experienced, this can steal hours off of your schedule. Especially if you use several tools to track metrics and have to pull them out of different reports.
With Databox, you won’t have this issue.
You can connect your various data sources, pick out the metrics you need, and combine everything into one customizable dashboard.
No more segmenting, filtering, and comparing numbers in different windows in spreadsheets – you get the whole shebang in one place.
Reporting doesn’t have to be complex and it doesn’t have to take hours each month.
Sign up for free today and climb the rankings with Databox.
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