How Poor CTR Can Spoil All Your SEO Efforts

Optimizing your page title tag for search engines is bad.

The title of a page (or post) is one of the most important on-page factor that Google (and most top search engines) uses to decide what the topic of that page is. SEO gurus always insist to drop your primary focus keyword at the beginning of the title tag. Some experts even suggest  to use a secondary focus keyword in the title itself.

But there is one more important purpose of the title of your blog: To attract the searcher’s eyeballs while competing with nine other high quality results on the search result page. If your blog post appears on the first page of google for a popular search term but no one likes to click on your listing how effective is your SEO?

CTR matters even if you rank all the way to the top

Optify CTR Curve 2
Organic CTR curve shows which rank gets how much traffic. Source

It is natural that in the first page of the search results the search user is more likely to click the first result than the second or subsequent ones. But the fact is that all ten results are right there in front of his eyes trying their best to grab his precious attention. And if they all fail to do so, there are millions of “next” pages to do the job.

If you rank first on page one but a search user likes (say) eighth result, and clicks it, better luck next time. But if it is happening all the time, then either the eighth result is too good to resist or your result snippet sucks (or both). The Click Through Rate (CTR) of each result starts playing a vital role here.

You may loose your rankings just because of low CTR

Joost De Valk of Yoast SEO plugin (the most popular SEO plugin for wordpress) warns in his post about SEO titles that “if you’re ranking but never getting clicks, over time, your rankings might deteriorate”. In other words if your result in the search engine gets more CTR than the ones with better ranking results there are good chances your will get a free ranking upgrade in the next update.

Think of it in this way. The purpose of complex ranking algorithm of a search engine is to provide the search user the result which best suit his needs. If every other user chooses for himself one particular result out of the ten options, isn’t it an indication that this result is the best suited result for that particular search query. If not then what is the purpose of showing the user so many results for a search rather than just one best result.

Your Title CTR matters beyond search engine rankings

Have you though about it in this way. Your blog/page title remains same irrespective of the source of acquisition of the reader. So if it is not able to attract clicks despite appearing in search results. How the same title will attract customers from other platforms? If it ugly in Google, it will be ugly in facebook. And it will be ugly in all those social platforms which use your page title in their snippet.

facebook uses page title and meta decription in its snippet
How facebook uses your page title and meta decription in its snippet. CTR matters the most here.

So your title and meta description should be catchy (not SEO optimized) to attract more clicks each time your page is shared on facebook. In fact several social bookmarking and social media platforms and a number of discussion board software (forums) use your title as their default text when a link to your blog post is shared there.

It is possible to increase CTR without sacrificing SEO

The whole purpose of this blog post is to make you look at your blog titles (and meta description) from a whole new perspective. Next time when you are writing title for your blog post, think beyond SEO. It is OK to put your important keyword(s) in title and meta description. But do not forget that actual real human beings will be reading it each time your blog appears in search results or is shared on social platforms.

You have roughly one second to grab your visitors attention with your wonderful snippet. And if you promise your visitor exactly what he is looking for and if your promise is better than your competitors you will earn that click through.

How to write titles that both humans and bots love

Google is known to play with your title and meta description while generating a snippet. It sometimes dynamically generates a better title for your search result snippet and often dynamically generates a better description taking excerpt of its choice from that blog post to best suit the search query. But it does not mean that you do not to do anything at your own. Great titles are valuable assets for your blog. Learn how to write great click worthy titles.