Click-Through Rate Optimisation for SEO

Adam from Mixam explains how he updated his Meta titles to improve click through rate after Google added 4 paid adverts to his industry search results.

When we write our Meta data for SEO, we’re only interested in crafting them to get our pages to the top of Google’s search engine rankings. And who can blame us! Just leave the CTR optimisation to the PPC guys. Am I right? They’re paying to rank, while we SEO guys have to work for it.


What happens when you rank #1 for a top term and Google suddenly placed 4 Paid Ads at the top of the SERPs?

That’s when your #1 position Organic listing only becomes as good as #5 position, because the 4 Paid Ads are sucking the traffic and revenue out of that search term.

So what can you do to claw back some of that lost traffic and revenue?
You can either invest in PPC advertising, which is becoming increasingly competitive and expensive with a decreasing return on investment.


You can improve the Click Through Rate of your Organic Listings.

How to Measure Organic Click Through Rate

First, you need to have already set up Google Search Console.This will give you 16 months of data about Impressions and Clicks for your website.

Google Search Console data is presented by Day. To see data more clearly by Week or Month, you will need to export the data into a spreadsheet and work with it. Or pull it into another of Google’s tools likeData Studio.

At the very least, one of your pages needs to consistently rank well for a good volume search term (or group of terms) with very little seasonality. This way you have a consistent level of traffic to measure against. You will then be able to compare the number of Impressions against the Click Through Rate.

For example, our website has always ranked well for magazine printing, which is a consistent search term with very little seasonality. A page with consistent rankings and consistent traffic is ideal for measuring Impressions and Clicks.

Otherwise a combination of fluctuating rankings and seasonality can make it difficult to demonstrate the value of what you’re doing.

CTR Tricks from PPC

There are some great articles on the web about increasing the Click Through Rate for your paid ads. But let me break it down for you with these keywords, eye catching characters, numbers and simple calls to action.

Free, best, fast, price, quality, delivery, service

24hr, UK, £15, 20% Off, &, !
Order your * online now.

* – product name goes here

Brainstorm what your business has to offer that’s unique and take it from there! In most industries 10% discount and free delivery is easy to offer. In others, it’s a little more complicated. 

Here is an example of how I changed our Meta title (originally designed to rank successfully in Google) to include a unique offering to catch the attention of users and increase our Clicks.

From: Magazine Printing | Mixam
To: Magazine Printing – The UK’s Best Price & Quality | Mixam

Please note that I was careful not to exceed Google’s Meta title character count limit. I also updated the Meta description to repeat these messages and include a call to action.

Mixam offers high quality magazine printing at the best prices, with exceptional service as standard. Get your online quote today!

Losing Google Rankings

When updating your Meta titles to improve Click Through Rate, you may have to remove some keywords.

For example, our  home page Meta title used to include “Instant Quote”.

These keywords seem to have been put there (before I joined the company) to rank for search terms like “printing quote”. According to Keywords Everywhere, this is a high volume search term with appalling £ revenue value.

Naturally, I was cautious in removing the word “quote” from the Meta title of our home page and our ranking dropped right away. But it wasn’t bringing in much financial value compared to increase the number of clicks for the bigger, better search terms that our home page does rank for.

But… if “printing quote” had secretly been an amazing high volume, high value, low competition search term, I could have simply reverted the Meta title of our homepage back, reindexed the page via Google Search Console and quickly restored the ranking.

It’s actually a trash search term…

But the point I wanted to make, is that you can totally screw up your Meta titles, lose all your rankings, switch them back, get them reindexed and everything will bounce back. I believe it’s the only thing that you can safely break in SEO.

The other point I wanted to make is that you should analyse everything your pages rank for before and after you make the Meta title changes to minimise losses, maximise gains and roll back if you need to.


Because Google rolled out 4 Paid Ads at the top of the SERPs for all the search terms in our entire industry, I took drastic action within a matter of days and updated the Meta data across our entire website.

(Admittedly it took a few days for us to realise that something bad had happened!)

Because our rankings, traffic and seasonality were in flux, I had to measure our website’s performance in year on year £ Revenue % growth.

We had been consistently running at +50% £ Revenue growth.

Google placed 4 Paid Ads at the top of the SERPs.

This resulted in a drop to just +15% £ Revenue growth.

By optimising our CTR we were running at +40% £ Revenue growth.

So we ended up -10% £ Revenue growth behind where we were meant to be.

Thankfully we’re constantly growing, but there’s clearly a lower ‘ceiling’ than before.


CTR optimisation is fast, it’s easy and if you screw it up, you can switch it back without any long term SEO penalties. The only challenge is accurately measuring it, which is probably why it’s not something many people consider, 

However, when your top Organic rankings are battling against the strong calls to action in the Paid rankings just above them, improving your website’s CTR has a big impact.

So if you can’t get your rankings any higher, or if you’re at the top of the SERPs wondering how you can grow further, consider improving your Click Through Rates to get more traffic and sales.

Author Bio:
Adam Smith

Adam lives a life of swashbuckling adventure online as the Digital Marketing Manager for Mixam – A plucky print company with a whole lot of heart and grand ambition to make printing easy for everyone. 

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