Every online marketer is in constant need of improving clickthrough rates, but especially important is the organic search CTR. What is the benefit of being on the first page of Google if you don’t get any clicks, right?
So we conducted an experiment, where we tested a couple of techniques recommended by online marketing professionals, aiming to improve the SERP CTR of a number of websites.
PLAN OF ACTION
We applied the following changes to 10 websites representing 10 different industries. For three months, we compared their monthly CTR stats to those of a control group of another 10 websites (same industries) which remained unchanged. By doing this, we could detect overall CTR increases which didn’t result from the experiment but rather due to seasonal increased demand in the industry, algorithm update that changed rankings, etc.
Add seasonal keywords in the meta title of the page that ranks best
Mentioning a season or an upcoming holiday to the snippet seems like a good tactic to make the searcher see your result as more relevant and fresh. The experiment didn’t coincide with any official holidays, so we had to use seasons.
“Perfect Painting LLC – Professional Painting Services in Albany, NY”
“Professional Painting Services in Albany, NY | Check out our winter specials”
Add special offers in the meta description of the page that ranks best
Adding a sales proposition to the meta description should definitely make it much more attractive, although Google does sometimes choose not to show the exact content in the meta description tag.
“LPG Limo’s crew is located in the Colorado area. Our limousine services are the most professional in the state. Call us today for more info.”
“Get 10% off if you mention finding us on Google! Book reliable executive limo and party bus services in Colorado. First time customers get 10% off! Call now.”
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
Click-Through Rate as reported in Google Search Console as the number of clicks divided by the number of SERP impressions a website receives.
We needed to know if an increased CTR is related to a better placement (and vice versa) or if it is a result of the adjusted meta tags.
G+ Page Placement
The website is also present in the local pack, along with the Google My Business page of
the business, so it might also influence CTR.
Websites in the control group received no optimization whatsoever and at times achieved better CTR than the test group.
There is a visible improvement in the test group at the end of the second month, and by the end of the experiment, the CTR increased with 6% from 0.58% to 0.62%.
However, to be objective, this could be attributed to seasonally increased activity in some industries.
In comparison, the control group ended up with the same CTR as in the initial check.
- Results are inconclusive because there is no visible presence (nor lack) of success, although even the smallest improvement of CTR is considered a victory.
- Knowing that the control group also performed well gives us a reason to doubt that the success was caused by the optimization only.
- No significant changes in the placement were detected, so we were lucky to have results that are independent from any algorithm updates.
- Results could have been influenced by seasonal factors, which is always a danger and a weakness of such experiments.
- If you decide to repeat the experiment for yourself, you must find a way to better isolate factors like seasonal activity and seasonal types of businesses.
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