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Is CTR an Organic Ranking Factor?: T-Time with Tillison

Organic CTR Ranking Factor - Tillison Consulting

We already know at this point that click-through rate – or CTR, for short – plays a big role in determining the quality score of your Google Ads, so surely CTR should also be a key part of Google’s search algorithm?

In the latest episode of T-Time with Tillison, we look at organic CTR – what it is, what can affect it, whether it’s a ranking factor and how you can improve it.

Is CTR an Organic Ranking Factor: T-Time With Tillison

What is organic CTR?

Put simply, CTR refers to the percentage of clicks that occur as a result of your website showing in search engine results pages (SERPs). Therefore, organic CTR refers exclusively to the proportion of clicks you’ve earned through organic means – whether they’re through being featured as a rich snippet, your video being displayed in the video stack, or your website simply showing in the search results.

What factors affect organic CTR?

There are a number of variables that typically affect your organic CTR. Take your positioning on a SERP for example – you are much more likely to have a higher click-through rate in first position for a search term than websites in second, third or fourth position.

Skip to 01:42 to see how you can use Google Search Console to see KPIs for your website such as total clicks and impressions, as well as average CTR and impressions. You can also use Search Console to see where your website is ranking on average for specific search queries, and what your organic CTR is for each of these searches.

Other factors that can affect your organic CTR include the local maps stack in Google, where users could find information for your business such as your address, phone number or opening times without clicking through to your site, as well as the depth of your content and the number of external links.

Another consideration is the query itself – shorter queries typically mean lower CTRs because there’s less intent behind them than a longer-tail search query. For example, you are more likely to get a higher organic CTR by targeting ‘what makes a good foot massage’ than you would targeting just ‘foot massage’.

Is CTR a ranking factor?

We know that the position of your website in SERPs can affect your organic CTR, but that ultimately doesn’t feel like a fair way to assess your CTR. This is where average CTR comes into play as a ranking factor.

There is a weighting system behind Google’s search algorithm, so if you are outperforming the average CTR of a website which ranks above you in Google, then it is likely that Google’s bots will soon catch up and recognise that your website is perhaps ranking too low.

You have to think about your CTR in the context of the CTRs of other results around you, and if your website is compelling enough, you should expect – within reason – an increase in your rankings. Head to 03:10 for more details on CTR as a ranking factor.

How can I improve organic CTR?

There are many elements of your website and search engine listing which you can optimise to improve your organic CTR, the first of which are your title tags and meta descriptions.

The copy in your titles and descriptions need to not only be relevant to the user’s search query, but also use appealing language to entice them towards clicking through to your website. Just jamming your snippet full of keywords – a now-archaic exercise known as ‘keyword stuffing’ – is not going to do the trick.

Think about including a benefit statement in the snippet for your website, particularly if you’re trying to sell a product – you want to tell users what they can learn from, how you can save time and money and why your website is the best one to click on. You should also consider including a clear call to action in your title or description, such as ‘watch our video’ or ‘download our e-book’. There’s further advice on optimising your title tags and meta descriptions to improve your organic CTR at 08:59.

So, in answer to the question ‘does CTR affect your organic ranking?’ – Google has stated that it does not on several occasions, but there have been plenty of discussions and experiments between SEO experts that would strongly suggest otherwise.

Let’s take a look at the bigger picture for a second – the whole point of having your website and investing in SEO is that you want more visitors and more traffic. Regardless of whether Google acknowledges organic CTR as a ranking factor or not, you should be optimising your site to try and improve your CTR – after all, a 10% improvement to CTR also means a 10% increase in traffic.

If you found this episode of T-Time with Tillison useful, subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tips and advice on how to improve your business using SEO, pay per click, social media and beyond.

Do you have any questions about your organic CTR, or the SEO profile of your website in general? Get in touch with your questions in the comments, or click below to find out more about our free 19-step SEO Audit.

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