Search Rankings Aren’t The End All & Be All

CTR by ranking of the 1st SERPSearch engine rankings aren’t the most important factor when it comes to harvesting organic traffic; click through rate in the SERPs can play a much larger role than you’ve been led to believe. The leaked AOL search data is the only resource we really have to estimate click through rates on the search engine results page. The majority of people will agree that those values are pretty accurate when it comes to estimating the traffic at a certain rank. What most people don’t realize is by how large of a factor you can skew the respective CTRs at different ranks by simply improving what searchers see.

Let’s take a site of mine and look at the SERP for it.
Google SERP for 'controversial issues'

It appears that Google added a snazzy feature to see the CTRs of your top search queries in their Webmaster Tools. Here’s my website’s data for the above query:'s Google Webmaster Tools Top Search Queries CTRs

So that’s a factor of 4-6 times better than the normal CTRs accepted as the standard in our industry.  How is that possible?  What’s attracting searchers to my search engine listing?  Let’s take a step into the mind of a searcher and examine their thought process.

So what’s working for our website?

  • Title of the website matches their exact search query
  • Url of the website matches their exact search query
  • Description of the listing matches their search intent – They are probably looking for a list of controversial issues and possible further elaboration on these topics
  • Url of the website is .org – Conveys a sense of authority and trust among many searchers especially on a query like this
  • 1st result’s url is an ip address
  • None of the other listings include all of the search keywords in their urls

What’s causing some organic traffic to click on our competitors?

  • Sitelinks under the 1st and 2nd listing
  • 1st and 3rd listings’ titles exactly match their search and the 2nd listing includes all of the search keywords

You’ve thinking “who cares that your website is a fluke and doesn’t follow the trend?”  Indeed this website is a bit of an oddity, but you should still care.  You now have the ability to see how modifying your title and meta description tag influence SERP click through rates on specific queries and pages.  Yeah, you could have estimated the changes these alterations would have had previously, but there’s a much larger margin of error because of the noise you have to deal with.  Isn’t it about time you reoptimized your page titles and descriptions to take full advantage of organic search rankings by boosting your CTRs well above the norm?

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