7 Actionable Tips to Improve Organic Search CTR

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Last updated: May 26, 2021

Publishing quality content is a challenge. Getting that content to rank in Google is an even bigger challenge.

But things don’t stop there. Once your article ranks on page one, you need to make sure that as many people as possible click on your article.

The organic search CTR (click-through rate) is important, because if nobody clicks on your link in the SERPs, you’re not going to get any organic traffic.

In this article I am going to give you 7 actionable tips to increase the Search CTR.

Why Google Search CTR Is Important

This is the simple formula for Click Through Rate:

CTR = Clicks / Impressions * 100

Impressions are the number of times your result was shown in the Google search results. Clicks are the number of times the result was clicked on.

You can check CTR numbers in both Google Analytics (Acquisiton > Search Console) and in Google Search Console (under Performance).

There’s no need to get super scientific about the numbers you’re seeing there, but it’s definitely good to track progress once you’ve implemented some of the suggested tips below.

There are two reasons why you should prioritize organic search CTR right now:

1. To Increase Traffic

This one is obvious. When you publish quality and useful content that ranks in Google, of course you want people to click through to your site.

No clicks, no organic traffic. Makes sense, right? Yet, click-through rate is one of those metrics that is actually heavily ignored and it’s costing bloggers tons of traffic.

So start improving your CTR, and reap the benefits of all your hard work.

2. To Further Improve Your Organic Rankings

There’s another important reason why you should work on improving your organic search click-through rate.

If Google decides to rank your article on the first page, and nobody clicks on the link to your article, you will most likely lose your rankings.

Google uses user behavior signals to adjust their rankings. So if you’re getting very few clicks, or if users don’t stick on your site for very long, then this will have an impact on how your content ranks.

Similarly, if you get a lot of clicks, and users stay on your site for some time to actually read your content, then these are positive signals, and your rankings are more likely to improve.

7 Ways to Improve Organic Search CTR

Okay let’s dive into the fun stuff.

Here are 7 actionable tips to get more people to choose your article in the Google search results, over the other 9 articles.

1. Use TOC Links

TOC stands for Table of Contents, and contains jump links to paragraphs and sub paragraphs in your content.

This is of course great for user experience. But what’s even better is that Google actually picks up those links and includes them in their search results.

Here’s an example:

TOC links in search results

The extra links you’re seeing there are directly taken from the article.

Here’s another example, but with a more specific call to action:

Jump link in search results

In this particular case I searched for “Mediavine dashboard”, and Google is then smart enough to provide me with a jump link to the paragraph that is about the Mediavine dashboard. It’s even bolded!

This will of course greatly improve the CTR.

I personally create TOC’s manually, but you can also use a plugin such as Easy Table of Contents.

2. Use HTML Tables to Claim More SERP Real Estate

This is a tip I’ve used myself extensively in recent times, because it’s so easy to do and it works very well.

You can use HTML tables to include data that is relevant to the article, and then Google will sometimes grab that data and display it in the SERPs.

Have a look at this example:

Table data in search results

See how Google gives me a few extra lines in the search results?

And this is what – part of – that table looks like in my Mediavine review article:

Table data in article

The more real estate you get in the SERPs, the more your article will draw attention.

3. Create an Optimized SEO Title

This one is very obvious, but I do feel I need to include it in this list.

The WordPress title of a Post doesn’t need to be the same as the SEO title configured in Yoast, or any other SEO plugin you may be using.

In fact, it’s highly recommended to use different titles. The WordPress title is what is presented at the top of the article. This title can be a bit wordier and longer than your SEO title.

The SEO title however, is the one that Google picks up and displays in the search results.

SEO title blog post

Well, not always of course, because Google can display any title they see fit for the user query. But otherwise, the SEO title is the default title that Google will grab and display.

What this means is that you need to make sure that this title not only contains your keyword(s), but is also enticing enough for people to click on.

Just don’t make it clickbait!

4. Use Structured Data for Rich Snippets

There are various Schema types that can land you rich snippets in the Google search results, and you really don’t need to be a tech savvy person to be able to implement Schema.

Here are some examples of Schema types you can implement today:

Review Schema

When you review a product or service on your site, it’s crucial to implement Review Schema to go with that.

Here’s an example:

Rich snippet with Review structured data

You can either implement Review Schema manually, or you can use a plugin such as WP Review. It’s very easy to do, and your content will attract more attention.

Recipe Schema

This is a no-brainer, but if you’re a food blogger, you really must use a Recipe plugin to create Structured Data to go with your recipes.

Here’s an example of what Google can do with a Recipe card:

Recipe card in search results

And here is a list of suggested recipes, based on a given user query:

Recipe list in search results

Some of the best Recipe plugins are WP Recipe Maker and Mediavine’s Create. These plugins also cater for recipe videos, which can be picked up by Google and displayed in the search results.

HowTo Schema

HowTo is “an instruction that explains how to achieve a result by performing a sequence of steps”.

You can use HowTo Structured Data to mark up articles that come in a how-to form, but that are not recipes. If there is an element of consumption, it should be a recipe instead.

Check out this Yoast article to learn more about how to take advantage of the HowTo Schema type.

5. Target Featured Snippets

When Featured Snippets first appeared several years ago, they were welcomed with open arms.

They were a great opportunity for articles that are not number 1, to still appear at the top and attract a ton of traffic.

Featured Snippet

Over the years though, Featured Snippets have evolved into much bigger widgets that often provide complete answers to user queries.

It’s super controversial, because it’s borderline plagiarism. But hey, it’s still better to be IN that snippet, than not, right?

Check out my article about Featured Snippets and learn how you can implement some basic HTML tweaks to help you earn the top spot.

6. Create an Enticing Meta Description

Similar to the SEO Title, the meta description is what Google can use to display in the search results. I say “can use”, because Google can use whatever they like, based on the user query.

Nonetheless, the meta description that you configure plays a big role in convincing the Google user to click on your article.

Meta description

So it’s your job to come up with a meta description that not only briefly describes what your article is about, but also draws attention.

Check out this article with some great tips on writing an effective meta description.

7. Make Sure You Have Good Quality Content

The last tip is perhaps the most important one, but it’s also often neglected in the context of Google search CTR.

You need to make sure your content is solid. It doesn’t necessarily need to be long-form, but it needs to answer questions people are searching for, it needs to be easy to digest, it needs to wow your readers.

But what does this have to do with search CTR?

The thing is, once Google gives your article a good spot in the search results, and you start getting organic clicks, it is then up to you to make sure your readers really like your content.

If they don’t like it, they won’t stay on your site very long. Or worse, they’ll jump back to Google to find a different, better result for their search query.

This type of user behavior signals to Google that your article simply isn’t good enough. As a result, your article will drop in rankings, and… the CTR will drop too.

So first and foremost, make sure your content is top notch. And then start looking at how to further improve your Google search CTR.


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Categories SEO
AJ Mens

I am a corporate IT nerd turned digital marketing enthusiast, specializing in SEO and content strategy. I have been blogging since 2015, and my aim with Blog Pioneer is to help you achieve success online. Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

  1. This post just fills in the gaps and great advice here. Got this stored in my library to refer to when creating my posts. It seems to be getting harder every year with Google changes. It is good to stay current on relevant advice you generously donate on your blog. Thank you.

  2. Hello AJ,

    Thanks for this post.

    I was searching for more information on the use of structured data when I came across it. I particularly liked the section on “Use Structured Data for Rich Snippets” especially the use of Review Schema. Incidentally, I just wrote a review article on my website that already included a TOC using the same plugin you recommended. Now I know I will definitely enhance the post to include a review schema as well as a piece of tabular information using HTML Tables. I am also sure I will be using the HowTo Schema soon.

    Perhaps one of the other Schema types that you may also consider and is making a wave at the moment is the FAQ Schema. I recently implemented that on one of my recent posts and I noticed a jump in the number of impressions within a few days. It was unbelievable!

    Keep up the good work man and many thanks.

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