Your metadata is unoptimised or ineffective
Although metadata is not a direct ranking factor, it is one of the most important generators of click-through from Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). As a result, it’s going to inadvertently impact rankings if Google works out that nobody clicks on your search result because it’s boring or irrelevant (sorry: truth hurts)
This is the main and most common reason for low organic click-through rates.
What is metadata?
Every website page has metadata, which consists of two elements: title and description.
Aside from choosing keywords strategically and based on relevance, all you can really offer in search results is your metadata. This is how your potential visitors (and therefore clients or customers) are going to make a split-second decision on whether your search result is likely to give them what they’re looking for or choose a competitor instead.
How to use metadata to identify low click-through rates
If your search results aren’t bringing in traffic, your first port of call should be your metadata. Google Search Console allows you to look at impressions – how many times your search result has been seen – alongside the number of clicks received from it in any time period. If you can identify from this that you have a high number of impressions but a low number of clicks, it shows that people are seeing you but not choosing you: something’s gone awry.
Using this data, you can optimise your metadata more effectively by ensuring every page has unique meta that includes your primary SEO keyword for that page, won’t be truncated in search results (title: 60 characters, description: 150) and ultimately, is enticing for users. We would suggest reviewing your metadata every few months anyway: the search landscape is ever-changing and it’s important to adapt to compete.
You might also want to think about implementing structured data (‘schema markup’) to some of your pages, depending on what your business or content is. This allows you to include review stars or mark a page as a recipe, which gives Google major hints about how and where to rank your page.
Your content isn’t relevant
Nowadays we all like to see ourselves as a bit of a detective when it comes to a Google search. I don’t know about you, but there are definitely a few occasions where I’ve found myself in a major research hole (usually regarding true crime, let’s be honest) and have been through pages and pages of search results, rapidly determining whether a page will give me what I’m looking for in the first few seconds, clicking away, and trying the next search result.
This is a nightmare of a user signal.
If website visitors are clicking away from your site – or not choosing it in the first place – Google is going to pick up on this and your rank will suffer.
Stuffing your pages full of keywords not only makes for bad content, it’s going to have you ranking in search for keywords that aren’t relevant, so your visitors aren’t qualified and your click-through rates suffer – it’s at this point that your impressions rise and your clicks drop.
Fighting for ‘featured’
Position zero: sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Let’s talk about the sought after featured snippet.
For lots of businesses the featured snippet is a welcomed and important addition to a search strategy. It means that your search result is displayed front and centre over thousands of competitors in an answer box.
But let’s think about this for a second. If I’m asking Google a simple question about what the time is in Spain, how to spell ‘discombobulation’ or the definition of the word ‘…’, as a user I’m showing no search intent and have an easily solvable query. I’m not going to click on the search result. I’m going to see that it’s 2pm in Spain and go on my way. Cue drop in CTR.
If I’m new to SEO and interested in learning about what structured data is, it’s unlikely that the answer box is going to give me everything I need to be able to implement it. It’s a more complex query that I might need to research a bit. So I’m going to click the link (cue increased CTR), learn more about structured data and, if I feel so inclined, book a training course or employ the SEO agency who delivered this search result to do it for me because wow, that’s confusing.
Fighting for the featured snippet when it’s not right for your business can be problematic for CTR and should be considered strategically to prevent you from sending the wrong user signals to Google and being penalised in rankings or seeing your organic click through rates plummet.
To find out more about strategic SEO, get in touch to have a chat with our experienced team.