SEO CTR: how to get higher positions and organic traffic

Written By Fraser McCulloch

Traditional marketer specialising in keyword research, SEO content plans, and content briefs. Has-been Scottish golfer. 

In this post, you’ll learn about click-through rates and how to get higher positions on Google’s search results page.

And as a result, more organic traffic.

So if you need to boost your organic traffic, this is for you.

What is SEO Click-Through Rate?

Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of the number of people who click on a specific Google result compared to the total number of people who searched for that keyword.

So, if 1000 people search a keyword and 220 people click the first organic search result, the CTR is 22%.

SEO CTR Study by position

Advanced Web Ranking showed that higher positions in the Google search results result in higher click-through rates (CTRs).

Ranking Position

Commercial Keywords

Informational Keywords

1

33.93%

20.85%

2

20.11%

14.31%

3

10.93%

8.52%

4

6.74%

5.27%

5

4.5%

3.46%

6

2.96%

2.38%

7

2.14%

1.76%

8

1.54%

1.33%

9

1.19%

1.06%

10

0.98%

0.87%

These results are based on search engine positions in the USA across all device types in May 2022 for commercial and informational keywords; results vary by device, search intent and industry to industry.

Your goal should be to rank higher to earn more clicks and visitors from the search results.

Let’s get started by improving your rankings and clicks.

Check the foundations

These techniques and tactics will only work if you have the proper foundations in place.

  • Your website should be over a year old.
  • You should be ranking for at least 1000 keywords.
  • It helps to have links to your website.
  • You have the time and resources to make changes to your website.

Ok, let’s go to the first step.

Identify keywords with Google Search Console.

Use GSC to find queries with more than 100 impressions and lower than position 30.

For example, I’m in an average position of 15.7 for “SEO campaign” that has 378 monthly impressions.

Keyword

Position

Impressions

CTR

Clicks

SEO campaign

15.7

378

0%

0 (actual)

SEO campaign

3

378

8.52%

32 (estimated)

And an average position of 14.8 for “free backlinks” with 319 monthly impressions.

Keyword

Position

Impressions

CTR

Clicks

free backlinks

14.8

319

1.3%

4 (actual)

free backlinks

23

319

8.52%

27 (estimated)

It may not seem like a massive increase in traffic, but if you follow the rest of these steps, you’ll likely improve your rankings for other keywords and thus get more clicks.

Check the SERP

Simply type the keyword into Google and look at the top results.

Google Ads and other featured snippets now pollute the top of the search results pushing organic results almost below the fold of the browser and increasing zero-click searches.

However, upon checking the SERPs with Ahrefs, I can see the top pages all get more traffic to their page than mine.

You want to know why the competition ranks higher than your page and what clues are contained within the page titles that cause them to rank higher than you.

  • Are there page results with a lower domain rating? No
  • Are there page results with fewer referring domains? No
  • Is the target keyword in my page title? Yes
  • Is there anything else I can add to my page to make it more appealing to users? Yes (how to)

To increase the odds of your page being seen and clicked, you should improve the title and description of your web page.

People scan the search results in a pinball pattern before clicking a result.

This pinball pattern helps people explore beyond the first three results, increasing their chances of clicking on your page.

Here are 3 ways to rewrite your page title.

  1. Add the target keyword in your title.
  2. Modifiers such as numbers, brackets (parentheses), and the current year can be used.
  3. Include the benefits that users get from clicking your web page result.

Use a headline analyzer like Mangool Tools or ShareThrough Headline, which helps write more emotional titles than your current boring title.

This study by Hubspot found that brackets in headlines increased clicks by 40%.

Meta Descriptions

Once you’ve written a page title that addresses the user’s intent and offers a benefit, writing the meta description for that page is easy.

Write an extension of your page title between 160-200 characters.

Above the fold and dwell time.

Above the fold refers to the first part of a web page that users visit. The idea behind this is that people should be able to read the most important information on a page before scrolling down.

These elements include the page title bar, navigation menu, heading, and introduction.

In 2012 Google wrote, “users want to see content right away.

If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.”

Now let’s consider dwell time.

Dwell time is the amount of time spent on a page before leaving it. The longer people stay on a page, the more likely it is useful and serves the users’ intent.

And dwell time could be considered a ranking factor; here’s what Duane Forrester, Senior Project Manager for Bing, said:

“Your goal should be that when a visitor lands on your page, the content answers all of their needs, encouraging their next action to remain with you. If your content does not encourage them to remain with you, they will leave.  The search engines can get a sense of this by watching the dwell time”.

5 ways to improve dwell time and the above-the-fold elements

There are five ways to display content immediately, above the fold of a web browser, and simultaneously improve user engagement to impact your ranking position for keywords.

  1. Ensure the heading describes your page, product, or service.
  2. Make sure the user can read the first sentence.
  3. Give users a reason to scroll down, read the web page, or take action.
  4. BLUF
  5. Page Speed

Page Speed

Google has stated that speed is used as a factor in mobile searches, and over 50% of visitors are likely to abandon a mobile site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Google said that “speed is now used as a ranking factor for mobile searches“, and over 50% of visits are abandoned if a mobile page takes over 3 seconds to load.

Use Core Web Vitals to check page speed and loading time.

You want to improve the loading time of your web pages so that users see important content quickly.

Heading

Look at the headings above the fold of these pages that display a benefit-driven heading above the fold of the browser.

Give users a reason to scroll or take action.

Now that you’ve got readers on your page, you need to give them a reason to scroll down your page.

Look at this mortgage web page; they use benefit-driven bullet points instead of a sentence and a call to action; get started, above the fold of the browser.

Look at the above-the-fold copy of this financial article using a copywriting technique called bucket brigades, which passes the reader through your page content.

Your first goal is for readers to land on your page and read the first section.

Then the goal of the next section is to pass the reader to the next section, and so on.

Here are some examples of bucket brigades you can use in your introduction.

  • Do you want to learn how to?
  • Think about this for a moment:
  • Have you ever found yourself?
  • The secret?
  • Imagine what it would be like:
  • You’re in a never-ending battle:
  • Have you wondered why?

BLUF – bottom line up front

The BLUF or inverse pyramid technique is when you place the most important elements for readers at the top of your web pages.

In a small study of 515 visitors to 3 of my web pages (using Hotjar), I discovered I lost 20% to 35% of my visitors in the first 10% of my pages.

I lost 36% of users on this mobile page in the first 1500 pixels.

Such findings are in alignment with the Nielsen Norman Group findings.

Since moving a summary to the top of this page, I have increased the number of people who quote and link to this page, along with growing the page traffic.

My final thoughts

To improve your organic search ranking, this guide helped you understand what factors affect search engine positioning and click-through rates.

I discussed how to improve your webpage title, description, above-the-fold elements and content to influence click-through rate and satisfy user intent, which could lead to a higher position in the search results and a higher click-through rate.

Categories SEO