Part of my work involves helping my clients get to the top or near the top of the search engines rankings for a selection of keywords. When this is achieved then I need to keep them there. To do this I have to ensure the click through rate (CTR) and bounce rate is at an acceptable level or their stay at the top will not last!
When your website is listed in the rankings for a search term this is known as an “impression” and if the user then visits your website this is called a “click through”.
Problems occur when your competitors who are in the same listings have a higher click through rate and a lower bounce rate than your website. They will in time start moving up the rankings and you will start to lose your position and traffic.
If your website has 1000 impressions i.e. (is displayed in the rankings) and twenty users click on your site, then your CTR is 2% which is acceptable. BUT if the CTR is any lower or lower than your competitors the search engines will start to think there is a problem. They will feel they are showing your website and no one is really interested in clicking on it, so they may move you down the listings and give another website a chance.
Improving your Click Through Rate
Having a good SEO title and meta description is vital. Let’s use an example to explain this further. Let’s say we were searching for “Narrow boats for sale” and these two websites are in the listings:
1 Narrow boats for sale we have loads of them
Loads of narrow boats for sale, all types old and new. We are cheaper than anyone else.
2 New and Used a narrow boats for sale in the UK
Largest selection of narrow boats for sale on the UK canal network, full brokerage and cash offers available on new and second hand narrow boats.
The 2nd example is far more inviting to the user and more professional, the second example will rank higher than the first example and also obtain a higher click through rate.
So when my clients have achieved the rankings they want and I am looking at improving their CTR I have to look at the SEO title and meta descriptions to see where I can make the improvements without taking away any of my keywords that have achieved the rankings that got them there in the first place.
This has to be done very carefully I need to have a balance – I need to keep the search engines happy so they will still list the website for the search term and then make the user happy so they will click through, not always an easy task.
So we have now achieved a high ranking in the search engines and we have a CTR of 2% or above the next job is to keep the user on the website. We can monitor the bounce rate in Webmaster tools, ideally the bounce rate will be below 50%, but we also have to consider what the competitors bounce rate is as well. If the user visits the website and very soon clicks the back button this is classed as a bounce and we want to avoid this.
The search engines do take into consideration how long the user was on the website before they left. If your website is only one page, but within that one page it holds unique valuable content, which the user stays and reads then the search engines measures how long the user was there before they left.
If the bounce rate is above 50% the search engines will start to think the website doesn’t deserve the high ranked position and move the site down the search results.
There are many reasons for having a high bounce rate. Here are a few examples;
- The website is difficult to navigate
- It was slow to upload
- They didn’t like the look of the site
- The user can’t find what they are looking for
There are many other reasons why a user doesn’t stay on a site, but whatever the reasons we need to fix the problems quickly.
Improving your Bounce Rate
By giving the user what they wanted and displaying it in a way that makes them want to move around the website going deeper into the site or to another website/blog you have recommended this will help improve your bounce rate. Our aim is to keep them on the website for as long as possible and for them to move around the site, not leave at the earliest possibility.
Summary for CTR and Bounce Rates
Once we have the website ranking in the search engines for our search terms and the users are clicking on the links and staying on the website we are in a better position to keep our rankings and also improve our positions. SEO work is on –going and it is something that needs monitoring and careful changing when necessary.
Click Through Rate of 2%+
Users stay on website for 30 seconds or longer bounce rate below 50%
For users to click another link on your website to go deeper into the site or to visit a site you have recommended
Remember depending on how well your competitors are doing this will affect your rankings in the search engines. If your competitors CTR is higher than yours and their bounce rate is lower they will over time do better than you.