How to Increase Your Click-Through-Rate (CTR) & Traffic by Optimizing Your Pages Most SEOs will sell you on rankings and ranking reports. The average business owner assumes that "ranking on top of Google" is all they need to hear, and if their SEO provider is telling them they are ranking on top then all is good. Sadly, rankings alone doesn't guarantee traffic or sales! Imagine if you were ranking #4 for a very difficult keyword and you were able to pull more traffic than the top three positions? Would you think I was smoking the good shit if I told you we make that happen all the time? How you ask? Authority sites naturally rank high for keywords that Google picks up on. If a keyword appears on a page and the site is a MONSTER in terms of authority it will automatically rank on top. That's just how it works folks. The thing is, a lot of these authority sites are ranking for these keywords that they aren't even targeting. That means their description, title and all other optimization isn't even done around the keyword, making it very easy to outperform them in terms of traffic and click-through-rate. Use this simple 8-step check list to not only improve the traffic each of your pages pull, but also improve the conversion rates of that traffic once it lands on your website. This can be time consuming so I would focus only on the pages that are currently on page #1 of Google first. Not only will the improved optimization pull better CTR, but it can also help your rank improve. For keywords on page #2, I would do this to attempt to improve your rankings. I've seen many pages jump from page #2 to the bottom of page #1 just by following these same simple steps.. PART ONE: ATTRACT THE CLICKS 1. Re-Write Your Page Titles You need to find the middle ground when it comes to page titles with your keyword and page titles that draw attention from the person searching and entice them enough to draw the click. Jamming a title with the keyword can backfire. It might help you jump a spot higher in the rankings, but it might reek of spam so bad that it pushes potential visitors away and they end up clicking on another website because the title is more inviting. Let's imagine your main keyword for the page you are trying to rank is "bad credit loans" and your title of the page is currently: "Bad Credit Loans - Get Your Bad Credit Loan Now" That is a keyword stuffed spammy title that gives zero value. Now, look at this: "Learn How to Get a Loan Today, Even With Bad Credit" Even though the keyword isn't â€˜exact' it still is relevant to the main keyword and the way the title is written it draws attention and provides a solution to the searchers problem. They obviously have bad credit and they are looking for a loan. They see our title and they feel like it could be valuable information on the other side, so they click. That title just did its job and pulled the visitors over, even though we are not in the #1 spot. The title was good enough to draw attention from all other options. 2. Re-Write Your Page Descriptions Ever since it was determined that meta descriptions don't play a role in rankings, people seemed to have just forgotten that they serve an actual purpose. The description is what the average searcher is skimming over, right after looking at the page title. Too many websites that I look at don't even set the meta description, so Google just puts in what they want. This is giving them 100% control over what they want searchers to see. Have you ever performed a search and noticed a result has useless info for their meta description? It might just have the date, post author name and then random text from the page. This is insane and it blows my mind that people don't take 15 SECONDS to make sure their meta description is written in a way to pull attention and clicks. If you are running WordPress use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin and make sure you tick off the "overwrite descriptions" feature. This will fore re-write your meta descriptions and Google will display YOUR description and not throw up a random one. Don't worry about including the keyword, as it won't improve your SEO.. but DO include it if you think it is going to help attract clicks. If the keyword is "bad credit loans" like the example above, you can write something along the lines of.. "Getting a loan with bad credit is difficult, we we have a solution. Learn how to secure a loan today, even with less than perfect credit." That description is totally related to the keyword but it doesn't read like a keyword stuffed, spammy description. 3. Use Rich Snippets (ex: social proof, reviews, etc.) Rich snippets are great for increasing your click-through-rate and they are relatively easy to implement. There is a simple plugin to use for you WordPress users. It can be found here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/all-in-one-schemaorg-rich-snippets/ The plugin supports the following types of Schemas: * Review * Event * Product * Recipe * Software Application * Video * Articles If you have a HTML site you will need the following markup information.. Product: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/rich-snippets/products Review: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/rich-snippets/reviews Event: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/rich-snippets/events Recipe: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/rich-snippets/recipes Software Application: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/rich-snippets/sw-app Video: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/rich-snippets/videos Article: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/rich-snippets/articles I'm not going to sit here and tell you that rich snippets are easy to understand and get set up on your website. They take some time to fully understand, but what I can tell you is that they work. You will see a stronger click-through-rate with them enabled.. and the most significant ones on e-commerce websites. If you are in the e-commerce space you must see the top results all have rich snippets enabled. At least if it is a quality site, because if a site is just a short term churn and burn site the spammer probably hasn't taken the time to enable rich snippets. 4. Use Social Media Friendly Featured Image Every blog post should have a feature image selected. This image should be optimized so it will show up on the popular social sites, like Facebook and Twitter when it is shared. Social media traffic can be one of your biggest referral sources as long as you do the little things (like this) to help make your social media posts draw more attention than the other millions of posts. We recently audited a website that not once had a featured image assigned to their blog posts. This was a huge site, with over 4,000 blog posts, and they added between 2-5 new posts daily. Their search traffic was impressive.. but their content wasn't optimized at all. (This just goes to show you how much weight site age and authority plays in the rankings) Their posts were also getting a lot of Facebook shares and Tweets, but the referral traffic from social media was almost nothing. We laid out a list of things for the site owner to do (with optimizing images and making sure each post had a nice featured image) and their traffic went through the roof. A lot of the people reading this are probably in the same boat. Good rankings but poor optimization. If your social shares are high but social referral traffic is low then this is your suspect. It might take some time to source some good images.. but it will be worth it. You are passing on free traffic by ignoring this. 5. Make Your URL's Visually Pleasant in the Search Results This optimization trick does play a role in both the ranking as well as the click-through-rate. To keep consistent let's use the same example keyword that we used at the top of this post: "bad credit loans." If you were searching and saw the following 3 URL's in the top three position which one would you automatically be drawn to? www.site.com/blog/5324563-ahdfg.html www.site.com/blog/dsg-3453.html www.site.com/obtain-bad-credit-loans-today/ The third one is going to help you with higher organic rankings in the search results and it's also going to naturally attract more clicks. Some people will only look at the page title when determining what result to click on. Some will only read the description. Some will skim the URL. And then some will look at a combination of all three and determine which one they believe will provide the best information. This is why it is so important to address every single item on this little checklist. Overlooking one can cost you traffic. Think of the time, effort and money you spend ranking your content. Ignoring a little detail like the URL structure can kill your results. Even if you are ranking on top.. it's possible that the spots below you are sucking in all the clicks because they took the time to optimize the little things. Rankings are important, but they aren't everything. 6. Understand Your Google Analytics Data Your Google Analytics data gives you information that you can use to analyze and improve your pages. There are four things you will want to pay attention to. Goals & Conversions: Every page you send traffic to should have a goal (and conversion) assigned to it. Are you trying to get the visitors to make a purchase? Sign up for a free offer? Direct them to another page with an offer? Set up goals in your Analytics so you can quickly see the trend over time. Are your goal and conversion percentages staying the same or even dropping? If so you want to try different titles and descriptions? If you notice your goal and conversion percentage increasing after some changes you know they were good improvements. Bounce Rate: Everyone gets into a pissing match when talking about bounce rate. Some say bounce rate doesn't affect rankings and some say it does. I don't give a fuck about that.. you should be looking at your bounce rate for one reason only: to see how your traffic is reacting once they land on your page! If your bounce rate is high that means your traffic doesn't find your information relevant or helpful. Make changes to your content or offer and if you notice your bounce rate decreasing you know that you are on the right path. Visit Duration: If you have long form blog posts and people are staying on the pages for just a few seconds that means they don't want to read your content. The number one offender I see is the formatting. People want to be able to skim through content and still get the point without having to read it word for word. So, use lots of headings that summarize the sections and use bullet points to break up text. Also, no paragraphs that are longer than 2-3 sentences each. Throw in some relevant images as well to break up the text. PART TWO: CONVERT THE CLICKS 7. Use a Heat Map to See Where Visitors Are Scrolling & Clicking There are a lot of heat map tools out there, but the two easiest to use are CrazyEgg and SumoMe. Take your pick.. they both work well and give you what you need. There are two things you want to pay attention to.. where your visitors are clicking and how far down your page they are scrolling. If your offers are not being seen or the users aren't clicking anywhere near them you need to move them quickly and test their new locations. Place your offers at the top, always above the fold when possible. Then, see where your visitors are naturally being drawn to and place the offer near the high click activity. This is where many people fall victim to the "only rankings matter" curse. You could have top rankings and pull a high click-through-rate but if your traffic isn't finding or clicking on your offers your traffic becomes useless. Take the time to ensure your traffic is scrolling and clicking where you want them to. 8. Make Sure Every Page is Built to Convert Traffic Have you ever landed on a page and thought "Wow this looks like it was built in 2001" and wondered how in the world they are converting. Think about all the most popular ClickBank offers.. they all have the same stale look and feel.. but they CONVERT! Look at all the muppits over at WarriorForum that have WSOs that all look the same.. that scammy/dodgey look and feel obviously converts well over there. In order to split test to find the best landing page options you could spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time.. probably two things you don't have. I would suggest you use a plug and play split test solution like Lead Pages (http://www.leadpages.net).. it's only $40 per month and you can split test so many pre-made layouts that are responsive and tested. You don't have to know coding. These layouts work and many times we have really improved conversion rates by using these templates for our clients. You might think a fancy design will convert, but most times a simple and proven layout will deliver better results.. so don't be afraid to test this. And there you have it folks. Rankings alone don't always guarantee you will attract traffic and get sales. What good is a #1 ranking if the websites three spots down is pulling in all the traffic? Use this information to audit all of your pages that are currently sitting on the first page of Google. Even if you aren't in that top spot you can pull the majority of the traffic from that page if you take the time to make sure your result draws more attention and appears to provide more value. That's it for now.. any feedback and questions fire them below. Have you tried this? Will you be trying this? Also is there any other SEO related topics you want me to go over in the future? I am setting aside a bit of my rare personal time each week to write up some helpful information for YOU.. so let me know what you want to read/see in the future! I am all ears. As always I hope you guys enjoyed the read. Until next time.. Ciao for now!