A lot of marketers work their arms and legs off in the pursuit of increased traffic, when there are often goldmines right in front of their eyes. One such goldmine is learning how to increase your CTRs.
Put another way, it’s a hell of a lot easier increasing your top performing post’s CTR from 3% to 6% than it is doubling your traffic through writing extra content or building extra links.
So how can we increase our CTRs? Below are a handful of experiments, case studies, and best practices on how you can make your search results more clickable.
To keep things interesting, I’ve only discussed tactics that will have an instant impact on increasing your traffic and CTRs. There are many good long-term strategies for increasing CTRs, such as focusing on building your brand, ranking higher for keywords, and developing your copywriting abilities, but today I just want to touch on the quick wins.
1. Write 25 headlines, and split test them for CTR
David Ogilvy famously said that when you write your headline, you’ve spent 80 cents out of the dollar, as 80% of people will only read your headline. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to focus on writing a good headline if you want a great CTR.
I’ve written previously about how UpWorthy’s success is largely attributed to making their writers draft 25 different headlines for every post they write. Each headline is then A/B tested to find the one with the highest click through rate. This is not dissimilar to how Tim Ferris used AdWords to figure out that “Four-Hour Work Week” was the best title for his book, as it generated the highest click-through rate long before anyone knew about his book.
I’m a big fan of the Title Split Testing plugin for WordPress, which essentially allows you to do exactly what UpWorthy do – create as many variations as you want and test them for the best CTR.
2. Using Urgency to Increase Clicks
Using the plugin mentioned above, I recently ran an experiment on a post I wrote on how to start a successful blog. I essentially created three title variations with one subtle difference – one had no urgency, another had the word ‘now’ and the final variation had the word ‘today’. The result? The variation with the word ‘now’ in had over twice as many clicks as the version with no urgency.
I’ve repeated this experiment time and time again and the results always confirm the same thing – urgency and scarcity make us click.
3. Use authorship, and make your picture stand out like a sore thumb
After being inspired by Cyrus Shepherd’s experiment on “How Optimizing My Ugly Google+ Photo Increased Free Traffic by 35%” I decided to try the experiment myself, but using even brighter backgrounds.
My original Google+ picture (the dark blue one of me doing an “I’m a little teapot pot” post) had an overall CTR of 3.4%. My current picture (the red one) has a CTR of 5.1%. In other words, a 49% increase in clicks, which as we can see in the Google Labs author stats below, had a nice impact on increased visibility.
While this sounds great, bear in mind it wasn’t scientific. There could have been other factors involved in causing the increase, but I think it’s fair to say that it had a noticeable positive impact on CTR, and there’s very little downside to trying it.
4. Cram your SERPs with rich snippet data
There have been countless reports and case studies showing that rich snippets increase rankings and CTRs. From Catalyst’s 150% increase in traffic after implementing rich snippets, to 30% increases in organic CTR, it’d seem foolish to not take advantage of them.
Of course, it’s not always relevant to use rich snippets, and they shouldn’t be used manipulatively. That said, they’re relevant in more places than you might think. schema.org have a huge list of all the different Schemas you can use to mark up your content, from literary events to sculptures. While not all will result in rich snippets, they will certainly help give Google more information to rank you higher, and you never know – Google does seem to be rolling out more and more rich snippet information, so it may just be a matter of time.
5. Update “2013″ to “2014″
As a Google user, I constantly find myself using the “search recent pages” function to avoid finding outdated content. The thing is, content naturally goes out of date, and it’s not uncommon to see descriptions and titles like those below, talking about 2013 as if it’s still yet to happen.
While obviously the content was written prior to 2013, there’s nothing about this page on binary options brokers that’s out of date. The use of the word 2013, however, gives the impression that it is – which I’m confident will be harming the site’s CTR.
Run a search in Google for ‘site:www.yourwebsite.com 2013’ to see whether any of your evergreen content is giving off the wrong signal.
The impact of the tips in this post will depend on how much traffic you currently have and whether you’ve implemented these kinds of tactics already. For a brand new blog, most of what i’ve mentioned will be absolutely pointless. For a blog with a decent and steady amount of traffic, this can be a quick and easy way to unleash a good 20-50% more traffic in a short space of time.
If you have any more tips, or know of any interesting case studies on increasing CTRs, please share them in the comments below.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.