Increase your blog traffic by improving your click through rate. Use Google Search Console to identify posts to work on.
Every blogger wants more traffic to their website. Whether you want visitors to see ads or to click affiliate links, they can't do either unless they visit your posts.
There are two things that must happen in order to get traffic to your website. First, someone must see a link to your post. They may see it on social media–a Pinterest pin, a Facebook post, a tweet on Twitter, or an Instagram post. They may get the link in an email. Or they may see your URL in a search engine results page (SERP) on Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
Next, someone must click on that link. This post is going to focus on increasing the number of clicks to your site from your Google SERPs.
I believe that working on increasing your clicks is part science and part art. We need the hard numbers to help us make some of the decisions, then we need our own knowledge of our niche and our audience to help make other decisions. Keep that in mind as you work on increasing your clicks.
Are you ready to learn more about all the information Google Search Console can tell you about your blog? Sign up for my course, “The Nuts & Bolts of Google Search Console!”
What is CTR?
We'll be focusing a lot on CTR which is our Click Through Rate. It is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click.
For example, if a post got 43,934 impressions and was clicked 1,568 times, the CTR would be 3.6%.
We divide 1,568 by 43,934 to get .036. Then we change that to a percentage to make our CTR 3.6%.
Find Pages that Need Attention
Now that we know what CTR is, we need to find the pages that could be performing better. Start by opening Google Search Console, and clicking on Performance.
In this example, the average CTR is 5.8%, and the average position is 11.4. We'll use these numbers in just a bit.
In the table, click on Pages to show the pages of your blog. Then click Impressions to sort your pages by impressions.
We want to start working on the posts that are being shown the most in search results, so that's why we sort by impressions.
The next thing to do is decide which pages to work on. I like to look at pages where the position is better than my average, but the CTR is worse than my average.
In this example, I want average positions lower than 11.4 and CTRs lower than 5.8%.
We could scroll down through the results looking for pages that fit those two criteria, but the quicker way is to filter the rows.
How to Filter Rows in Google Search Console
Start by clicking the funnel icon on the right side of the table. Select the criteria you want to use. I selected CTR first.
Next, click the down arrow and choose one of these options:
- Not equals
- Greater than
- Smaller than
Pick “smaller than,” then enter 5.8. That'll show all the posts where the click through ratio is less than 5.8%.
You can add a second filter which I did by picking position, then setting the criteria to be less than 11.4.
Because I had a lot of pages that had only gotten a handful of impressions, I decided to add a third filter. I filtered by more than 1,000 impressions.
Depending on how many impressions you get, you may choose to filter by more or less impressions. Pick what works for you.
Confirm that Increasing CTR is Feasible
Now, I'm going to scroll down through my list looking for posts that I might be able to improve. I'm going to start with this one because it has gotten over 67,000 impressions, but has a horrible 0.5% CTR.
I want to find out what keywords I'm ranking on for this page, so I'll just click on the URL.
I should see that it is now the only URL on the page and that there is a new filter at the top of the page.
Click on Queries, and sort by impressions.
Review Rankings in Google
We're going to look at the Google search results for the first query, but we need to do that in an incognito window.
Here are the results.
Today, I'm ranking in the fifth position for “bsa medical form.” I might be tempted to jump right in and start trying to optimize this post to get a better click through ratio.
But here's where the “art” part comes in. I need to think about the term and what the intent of the searcher is. I can do this because I know my niche and my audience.
I know that every year, Scouts have to complete a new medical form and turn it in. So I suspect that the reason someone is searching for “bsa medical form” is that it's time to fill out a new one. They're probably searching for the form itself.
If you look at the SERP, you'll see that results from scouting.org (the official Boy Scouts of America site) are in the first, second, and third positions. If I need the form, I'll click on one of those results–most likely the one that is a pdf.
Given that three of the four results above me are from the official site and given that the searcher is most likely just looking for a copy of the form, it's going to be difficult to increase my CTR for this page.
I'm not going to spend time on this one. Instead, I'll look for one where my chances of increasing my CTR are better.
I decide to take a look at this post. The keyword with the most impressions is “cub scout nova award.” I search that in an incognito window and start looking at the results.
My post is in the 8th position.
Review Titles and URLs
The first thing I need to do is read the titles and URLs of the first 7 results looking for words or phrases that aren't in my title and URL.
The word “award” is in either the title or URL of those results, but it isn't in mine. I need to correct that.
Note: I typically don't change the URL of my posts unless it is totally off base. If you decide to change it, don't forget that you'll need to redirect the old URL to the new URL.
What Changes Do I Need to Make to My Title?
I'm going to give you a lot of suggestions, but there is a caveat. Not all of these will work for your blog, so only implement the ones that fit your blog and your niche.
Test your results and make changes as necessary. Just because something might be a best practice doesn't mean it's the best practice for your site.
Here are some things you might want to consider including in your title.
- Numbers – Numbers can make your title stand out in search results. If it makes sense, include them.
- Dates – If it makes sense, include dates. For my Cub Scout blog, I typically don't put dates in my titles because the content is evergreen.
- Length – You don't want your title to be too long or too short.
- Keywords – Are you ranking for keywords that aren't in your title? Can you add them?
- Call to Action – Tell people what to do
- Questions – Can you make your title a question?
- Emotional Words – Use the CoSchedule headline analyzer to help you add emotional words to your title.
Review Meta Description
Next, read the meta description that Google is showing for each post that's ranking.
Google isn't showing the meta description that I wrote. Instead, it's pulling some text from my post that includes “award.”
This isn't the text that I wanted it to include. But it's the part of my post that Google thinks is most closely related to the keywords “Cub Scout Nova award.” Remember, that's the keyword that we searched for.
What Changes Do I Need to Make to My Meta Description?
Here are some suggestions of things you can change in your meta description to improve your CTR.
Review the terms that you are ranking for. Do you see any patterns? If you do, include them in your meta description. The image above shows the queries for a post about pack meeting plans. When I saw that “themes” was in many of the queries I was ranking for, I added it to my meta description.
Are there ads showing up in your search results? If so, use some of the words that they are using.
If people are paying for ads, you can be assured that the meta description has been tested to maximize click throughs.
After you make your changes, wait a few weeks then evaluate your results. Have they improved? If they haven't, test something else.
What other ideas do you have to increase your click through rate? Leave a comment, and let me know!