Another side of SEO: Optimizing CTR from Google

Google recently updated the Webmaster Tools’ Search Queries report with some new features. If you haven’t used this tool before you’ll immediately be amazed with a key statistic that it exposes: the click through rate of your site’s pages on the Google search results page. Traditionally some people involved with search engine optimization have focused on three main things:

  1. Increasing the amount of content indexed using flat paths, XML Sitemaps, etc.
  2. Using techniques to increase the quality of that content from the spider’s perspective (keyword-rich page titles/urls, alt tags, etc.)
  3. Measuring the traffic that results from these SEO efforts

Looking at this report you start to see the importance of another dimension in optimization: improving what is actually presented to users on the Google site in order to increase clicks to your site. Here is a pretty stark example – it shows that although Google is driving good traffic to the site there is a huge amount of headroom available to improve:

Google Webmaster Tools Queries Report

This graph is showing that the site has a 7.36% overall click through rate. This means that you were successful in getting your content in front of Google users, but for over 92% of them it wasn’t enough to get them to visit. However, this example is based on all Google search types and for all countries. In this example the site’s main content is photos – if we narrow this down to image searches only we get a better result:

Now we see that image conversions are at 10.94% – still a lot of room for growth. Using this as a starting point, you can go further by focusing first on specific countries and then all the way down to specific keywords/URLs and their associated ranking positions. For your site, optimization could mean testing various page title formats, the position of keywords within your content in order to provide a more appealing text snippet on Google’s results page and even how you tag and organize your image content.

This is just a small example of the power of this new tool – every serious site optimizer can immediately benefit by digging into the metrics it provides.

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