Is Click-Through Rate A Google Ranking Factor?
A common question amongst search engine experts is whether or not click-through rate (or CTR) actually has an effect on Google and other search engine rankings, as well as website optimisation. The answer, to this day, is quite unclear. And it’s quite possible that it will remain that way. Here’s why.
The reason this hasn’t been revealed could very well be to do with how businesses, webmasters and companies offering search engine optimisation services would use and abuse this information. However, before we get to that, let’s briefly define what we mean by CTR. When referring to this term, we often mean organic CTR – the number of people who clicked on a search engine result to your website versus those who did not. So the higher the CTR, the more relevant your website’s result is to the searcher. This means that a higher CTR is, of course, favoured as it can increase your brand visibility as well as your chances of generating sales. However, this figure can also be manipulated. It’s possible to search for a keyword your website is targeting on Google and click on your own result while ignoring those of a competitor. This simultaneously increases your CTR while decreasing your competitor’s CTR on that keyword. Additionally, it’s possible to find a UK search engine optimisation company offering a service to boost your click-through rates. And that’s the big problem surrounding the CTR debate. If CTR can be artificially boosted in ways like this, then how valuable a metric can it, in fact, be?
This is also a problem for Google and other search engines. If it was ever revealed that CTR is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithms, there would be a rush of companies and freelancers offering to boost CTR. But that’s not to say that having a good CTR doesn’t have any effect and isn’t considered at all within Google’s algorithms. In fact, some studies have shown that it can be important – but only if there is a satisfactory ‘dwell time’, which means the length of time the visitor stays on your site. However, the possibility for it to be so easily manipulated must surely push it further down the hierarchy of relevancy. This is even more likely when you consider that a good CTR doesn’t necessarily equal searcher satisfaction. Nor is artificially boosting your CTR likely to help you generate sales. In fact, all it will do is interfere with other metrics and make it more difficult to work out what part of your white hat search engine optimisation strategy needs to be improved. Instead of viewing CTR as vital to your Google rankings position, you should focus on other things – such as what searchers are actually looking for – when it comes to choosing which keywords to focus on. Organic CTR is a great metric for search engine experts, but it has to be viewed in relation to the wider picture.
If you run a website or are looking for a search engine optimisation agency, it’s important to view CTR in perspective as simply a component in a wider SEO strategy. Knowledgeable search engine experts will look at such a strategy from a holistic perspective.