CTR: How to bring more users to your website
Why is CTR important to understand your customer’s needs
CTR is the acronym for Click-Through-Rate, a key factor in evaluating the success of online advertising campaigns. It is essential to understand how this measurement works, since it’s a clear indicator of the interest generated by your ads and snippets (which are basically your site’s title and description on Google search pages). To put it the simplest way, CTR values basically indicates the ratio between clicks and views of a particular ad/snippet, expressed in percentage.
Let’s say an advertisement is shown to 10 users but just 1 of them is actually clicking: that would mean a 10% success rate for your ad campaign (honestly, a pretty big number compared to the average CTRs). Generally, Adwords campaigns generate a CTR that is around 2% – a number susceptible to shift due to factors such as industry sector, snippet quality, target audience and so on.
Be user-oriented as much as possible when trying to increase CTR levels – at the end it’s all about matching the users’ needs and expectations, attracting them to your website with the appropriate snippet. Besides, a higher CTR can be considered a valid indicator to judge the quality of a website and an indirect way to improve your page’s ranking.
How to make users land on your page
Imagine a user in need of a specific type of machine, let’s say a hydraulic press. If the user considers the option of buying it online, Google would most likely be the first tool taken into account. Terms like “buy hydraulic presses online” or “hydraulic presses for sale” would probably be entered as queries. This should give you an idea of why optimizing your ads is a way to stand out of the crowd, since they need to match what the audience is looking for.
Remember that these queries generate a list of more than 3 million pages, so it’s important for you to improve your site’s ranking to get in the top results. Being in the first page drastically increases the chances to bring customers to your website. Once the user clicks on your ad, he/she is expressing a preference, recognizing a better fulfillment of his/her need in your offer. From that point on, it’s in your interest to keep the user on your site, providing the best content and products (you might want to improve your user experience too).
Improving CTR: what should you do?
A snippet is basically a brief description of your page that is displayed on the Google search results. Usually, this is the first contact visitors have with your website (especially if you consider sponsored ads). For a better explanation, we’ll take Google as an example for search engines. Basically, your snippet on Google SERPs has two main elements you should really care about: title and description. Let’s see how to optimize them the best way.
TITLE: High search volume queries are generally applied in this section, which comes from the meta title placed in the HTML head section of your page. It is common to attract users through the use of highly recognizable keywords (remember the case of the hydraulic press?), so that they feel intrigued and might find your offer as the appropriate solution for their requests. You will often see truncated titles while scrolling a result page: that’s not a good sign in the eyes of Google and it’s a fundamental job for SEO to take care of that. Having a title that is not completely shown might be bad in the eyes of users too. To avoid this problem you could write a title in line with Google restriction, which is something around 70 characters. In a few words, offer the users a title that is both visually and content wise appealing and you will create a gate for more organic/paid traffic.
DESCRIPTION: Somewhat similarly to what we’ve done for titles, we should put some effort in optimizing the text and the content of our page description, meaning that there are some restrictions here too. To be exact, the number of characters you can use is around 156, giving you the opportunity to express what your page is about and how helpful it can be for your audience. In this section you can be a bit more creative, placing symbols (such as check marks or arrows) and calls to action where it makes more sense, making your snippet more visually appealing. Remember that this description is an exclusive way to present your page/business and should be both clear and catchy. The description is an exclusive way to tell Google what your page is about and, in case you haven’t provide any, search engines will use the first sentences from your page.
Tools for monitoring and the need of constant improvement
Apart for snippets, CTR is a value that is applied to every clicks/views correlation. Let’s say you have pop-ups on your website, banners on sidebars or even links in a text: you can evaluate their effectiveness by measuring the ratio between the times the element is displayed and the times it gets clicked on. There are several tools to measure the CTR levels of specific elements – Webmaster Tool is probably the most used among them. We won’t cover all the features Webmaster Tool can offer, but it is important to know that this is a great resource, especially if you need to see how your pages are doing in terms of click-through rate.
It is also important to keep in mind that the elements of a page, which are subject to CTR evaluations, could be adjusted and modified from time to time. This helps to determine the margin of improvement of your CTR indicators. If you make some changes to a page snippet and you see that after some weeks the click-through rate is rising, you might be going in the right direction and should stick to these changes.
It’s a common practice to run A/B tests to see which improvements actually make sense. If you want to run different versions of, let’s say, a pop-up panel at the same time, you can make use of online tools like GetSiteControl, which let you set a time range in which two different versions of an element will appear with a 50-50 chance on your page. At the end of the test, you’ll see for yourself which option fits your users’ expectations the best.
Some final thoughts
This overview gives you the basics to start optimizing your snippets and on-site elements, leading to a higher CTR. Don’t forget that while experimenting with different solutions and features you should always have your users in mind, since the clicks to your site are in their hands and you don’t want to lose them. When improving a description or a title, think of what a user would really need from you – this is the most important takeaway you can get from this list. This means: improve and experiment as much as you want but don’t forget that at the end it is up to the user and always consider when it makes sense to enrich your snippet and when not.
That said, start detecting the pages and the onsite elements that have some room for improvement; you should now be able to make them stand out of the crowd!