Will CTR be the SEO Kingmaker for 2019?

Click Through Rate (CTR) measures how many visitors actually click on links on your site and it is a very important metric for a lot of reasons. Traditionally CTR was a term used in internet advertising but at SEO grew it became a very important metric for the SEO community as well. As the SEO arms race has hotted up, Google has been looking for other good ways to rank sites, and user engagement is actually a perfect way to determine if a site is any good. Of course, people try to fake this by putting in automatic redirect and pop-ups and all kinds of click bait, but one should not under-estimate Google’s ability to detect these kinds of things and penalise a website for them. What to a client may seem like a clever idea from an “SEO Expert” may well be a very bad decision and clients end up throwing more money after bad to try and get results?

With SEO my strategy has also been to get the basics right, stick to the rules and then think a little outside of the box, but still with a white hat on. It has worked very well and one can sleep at night knowing that the next update from Google is not going to penalize my clients and send their revenues plummeting.

Things bring me back to clicks, which I think is so important as it measures a user’s interest and engagement through the whole process. First, the title and description in the search results have to entice the user to click on your site. Then your site has to give the user what they have been searching for and get at least another click out of them to move to another page on your site. Even better still there needs to be a conversion, collecting the users’ email address, creating a login for him and getting him to buy a product. Although not listed in any ranking factors, I’m fairly sure Google has ways to monitor each of these things. The fact that we all use Google Analytics goes a long way to helping Google collect more data to drive rankings.

Of course, with mobile being such a big part of search now, over 50% of clicks are actually taps and I do wonder if we should not have a separate TTR (tap through rate), which would be an easy way to measure the effectiveness of our persuasion architecture on mobile vs desktop.

But this is the huge thing, users are landing on our websites from different devices with vastly different screen sizes, hopefully, our sites are responsive and adjusting correctly, landing on one of many different layouts across hundreds of pages, but are we effectively keeping track of what they see? We need to because we need to ensure what they see is enticing enough to get that click and drive conversions. I’m sure Google’s new Optimize service will help, but for those with bigger budgets, there are some great tools available to help.

But all of this does say to us that for 2019 we need to concentrate on what our sites are saying (the content), how they say it and how it looks. It’s not a once of do it and forget it, it’s a contestant game of testing changes and tweaking to get the best results, get the clicks and get the customer conversions. In this new click economy, your competitor is just one click away and CTR in its various forms is as good a measure as it gets, and for SEO the relationship between CTR and conversions has to be the Kingmaker for sites to win the SEO arms race in 2019.

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