What is a Good CTR for Organic Search?

Click through rate (CTR) is one of the more misunderstood organic search metrics, and definitely one of the least accounted for within a given SEO campaign. Improved CTR can do wonders for your organic reach efforts. An increased click through rate results in more traffic going to your website even without a drastic increase in rankings. To boost our CTR we must first answer the question of what is a good organic CTR? This understanding will give us something tangible to aim for so we can set more accurate KPIs.

Organic CTR by Position

Position matters. Improving our ranking will increase the possibility of having a better CTR, which in turn will further increase your ranking (if that makes sense).

Google Search Console is a great FREE way to identify your site’s CTR across all pages. Here you can track CTR progress over time and identify decreases so you can go ahead and optimize those pages. You can also compare CTR against your Average Position metric to determine whether you are over or underperforming.

It’s no secret that average CTR falls precipitously after position one. In most search engine results pages (SERPs) you will find a position one CTR of around 40%, followed by a second position CTR of just 18%. From there, rates typically get cut in half for each lost spot.

Combined, the top 3 results collect nearly 70% of all clicks from search.

Of course ranking alone doesn’t mean everything in the CTR calculation, but those are good baseline averages to use when determining whether your pages are achieving the right CTR for their ranking spot.

Finding Organic CTR in Search Console

Not only is it free, but Google Search Console is incredibly user-friendly. Even for those of us who aren’t super analytical, GSC can provide better information about our search presence and provide ideas for search appearance improvements.

The best way to use GSC for CTR is by heading to the performance tab and setting a data range. It’s most effective when using the compare option so you can check CTR improvements or declines over a specified time period.

Start with the last 28 days versus the previous period to see how CTR fluctuated MoM, then scroll down to see your results.

You can check which queries decreased to see whether a) you’ve lost ranking, or b) your search result isn’t click worthy anymore.

Alternatively, you can click on the pages tab to see whether the entire page lost CTR across its ranking keywords. Both methods are beneficial for isolating and diagnosing CTR issues.

Search Console makes it easy to sort the list by “CTR difference” so you can quickly identify negative drops.

If you notice CTR drops across older pages, ones that haven’t been updated recently, it’s a good indication that you need to update their title tags and meta descriptions.

It’s also helpful to identify results that have the highest ranking position but a below average CTR. If you have results ranking in the top 3 that are getting under 3% CTR then there’s a problem.

Effects of Keyword Cannibalization on CTR

Cannibalization is a scary word. When it comes to keywords, it can lead to scary outcomes.

Keyword cannibalization happens when multiple pages rank for the same keyword. In some rare instances, you can have multiple pages ranking for the same keyword, but this usually happens when the keyword itself is low volume and non-competitive. The majority of the time it’s not good to have the same keywords ranking on multiple pages as this can cause confusion for Google, ultimately resulting in both pages not ranking.

This can also happen to pages that have different content but have similar title tags, which is why it’s always important to review your title tags and meta descriptions to ensure they are as unique as possible.

If you are struggling with making multiple pages unique, you may be better off combining them into a single page. This is what I like to call the “super page effect.” Oftentimes it will help you rank even higher since your single page delivers more content than competitors.

When is a Higher CTR a Bad Thing?

Believe it or not, there are situations where a higher CTR is detrimental to your digital marketing efforts. Paid advertisers know this feeling better than most, but it also applies to organic clicks.

A higher CTR becomes a bad thing when our website ranks for the wrong keywords, usually as a result of bad search intent.

For example, let’s say we were trying to rank this post for “what is a CTR.” Seems pretty straightforward that we’re talking about click through rates here, or is it?

When you Google “what is a CTR,” you’ll see that the page one results lean heavily towards “currency transaction report.” This is completely different from click through rates, obviously, so it wouldn’t make sense to try to rank for that term.

Even if we get to page one, the search intent is too mixed to ensure we would receive an adequate click through rate. In fact, we can almost guarantee that our click through rate would be below average, not making it worth our marketing efforts.

Always look at page one results for any keyword you plan to target. What’s actually ranking could be drastically different from what you think should be ranking.

How to Improve CTR Without Changing Title Tag and Meta Description

Most people look to their title tags or meta descriptions when it comes to boosting click through rates, but those aren’t the only factors that matter.

Schema markup is another way to change the appearance of your search result, adding more eye candy that will attract extra clicks. Also known as structured data, these are snippets of code that go onto your web pages that share additional information about them to Google. Sometimes Google will display this information as part of your search result.

Review stars are a great example. Whether you are an ecommerce store or you have reviews on your service pages, schema markup is a great way to display these reviews to searchers and make your listing stand out. Google might reward you by placing review stars underneath your search result.

You can also add FAQ schema to pages that include an FAQ section. This will encourage those questions to appear underneath your listing in search results which are a great way of helping the user find the information they need.

Think of your search listing as real estate. You own the entire plot of ‘land’ around your SERP result, so you might as well make the most of it and build a pool. That’s what schema markup is like, you’re taking the area around your listing and enhancing it to the best of your capabilities.

Finding a Good CTR Through Better SEO Forecasting

When you know how to properly forecast your SEO campaigns, you will have a better chance of improving your click through rates.

Using an automated forecasting tool like ZISSOU allows you to forecast things like Keyword Distribution, Traffic, and Conversions to determine how you can boost target terms and improve ROI.

How does this play into CTR? Those other metrics will only improve if you are able to maintain an average, or expected click through rate as you climb in the rankings. By understanding what is a good CTR for organic search, you are able to perform better optimizations for any pages that are below average so you can get them closer in line with your SEO forecast.

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