Canonical Chronicle - Episode 55 - Google Hacks to Optimise your Site for a Higher CTR

In this video

We go deep into the world of click through rate optimisation and look at all of the major areas that you can optimise on your site in order to change the way your site looks in the search results. From the basics like updating your meta data to the lesser know implementations with JSON-LD.

Mentioned links


0:00 Favicons mean we don't know what's an add any more!

1:12 How do we optimise for a higher CTR?

1:50 What affects how your website is shown in the SERPs?

2:33 Optimising Title Tags for maximum clicks

3:20 Title tag best practice for modern meta data

3:40 Meta descriptions - how to write them for more clicks

4:41 Structured Data - using

5:20 Valid types of structured markup

5:50 How to implement schema with JSON-LD

6:35 Don't use tag manager to inject JSON-LD

6:55 Measure CTR with Google Search Console performance reports

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I’m Ross Tavendale, the managing director of Type A Media, a creative search agency based in London. I make videos about business leadership, web technology, SEO, PPC and how I turned being a Type A personality into a business.


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- So last week, Google changed desktop SERPs to include favicons and SEOs were like:

- Wait, I can't see pal! What's going on?

- That's right, we really can no longer tell what's an ad and what's organic anymore. Now as we were all left kinda scratching our heads, Google was ultimately just like:

- Excellent, it's all falling into place.

- That's right, they're deliberately making the ads look like organic results to increase the amount of clicks on advertising. As an SEO, I would expect Google to be experimenting a lot more with the SERP layout in the coming weeks. In particular, an official spokesman said, "The designs have been well received "by users on mobile screens, "as it helps people more quickly see "where information is coming from "and they can see a prominently bolded ad label at the top." Oh right, it's for the user, it's not for you to manipulate more money out of advertisers.

- Oh yeah, I think I can smell shite.

- So with all these changes happening, you're bound to see something weird happening with your click-through rate, both on ad words and also in Search Console. So what should we be doing and how do we better optimize for a higher CTR? Well, in this video we're going to go over how to increase your click-through rate or CTR. In particular, we're going to cover the title tag, so how to write one in 2020 for best results, your meta description, so making the meta description compelling so that it gets clicks, looking at the favicon to see how you can actually optimize that, and lastly but not leastly, structured markup. How do we take more SERP real estate and increase our chances of a click? Talking about clicks, you should definitely click the like button on this video to help us with the YouTube algorithm. Okay first let's actually break down what actually affects the way your site looks and the search engine result pages, or for short, the SERPs. So, as we can see from this SERP, we have the ad carousel at the top and the people also ask box, and then we've got some Wikipedia results with a bunch of extra information being surfaced in that SERP. As well as all of this, we've also got an eCommerce listing and you'll notice a star rating. Also note that the main keyword in this case, Fender Stratocaster is in bold, and that really draws more attention to the results. Now although this might seem like an ordinary result, there are actually quite a few things at play under the hood that gives these results a really unique appearance. So the first and most common is of course the title tag. Title length is based on a 600 pixel container, but as you don't really have any way of measuring pixel width, best practice is to keep the titles to 60 characters or less.

- You address my by my proper title, you little bollocks!

- Now remember, the title tag is a ranking factor, so it's important to put your keyword in the title. Lots of SEOs go with the format of keyword one, secondary keyword and then brand name. I personally think this is a little bit outdated now and you're gonna want to write something that's a bit more compelling to click on. Now on page one, click-through rate is a very important ranking factor, so using that title to make it compelling is really important. So for example, if you're writing a listicle, make the list an odd number. Something like Fender Stratocasters, 13 Surprising Things You Need to Know Before You Buy. So make sure the keyword targeting matches the intent of the person that's actually searching, and throw in some extra intrigue in there to make them really want to click on it and learn more. Talking about clicking things, you should definitely click that like button if you haven't already. So the meta description is an indirect ranking factor. This means that although having an optimized description won't automatically get you a higher ranking, it will produce a higher click-through rate, and a high click-through rate is a signal that helps Google understand that you should be ranked higher over time.

- [Computer User] Oh yeah, feelin' a record coming on here. Come on! I gotcha. I got it, come on!

- So as you can see from the example before, the keyword is actually emboldened when it's mentioned. So make sure to add the keyword in the description as well to help your listing really stand out. The meta description should be kept to 160 characters or less, the reason being Google will truncate anything over 160. Also, use a description to put some sort of call to action in there to really encourage the searcher to make the click. And lastly, treat the description kind of like a preview to your page. This is a place where you can really sell what's gonna be on that page, get the searcher really excited and get that click. Okay, so let's take it up a notch and let's talk about structured markup. Essentially, structured markup is the code that explains code. Structured markup is meta data that you can put on your page to give Google a little bit more context about what the page is actually about. Now if you want to test if your structured data is actually being understood by Google, you can put your URL in the Structured Data Testing Tool, link down below, and it will tell you if it's actually valid or not. Now, just because your markup is on the page does not actually guarantee that Google's gonna show it in the search results. If you're interested, there is a full list of supported markup types with instructions on how to actually implement them over on the Google Developers site, again I've linked that down below. Now there's loads and loads of different markup types, from breadcrumbs to FAQs to products. It would be a good idea to actually check them first before you try and implement. Again if you go to Google Developers site they will give you full details on how to do that. Okay, so what is this code that I actually need to put on my site to get these results in the SERPs and increase my click-through rate? Well it's called Schema and if you go to, you're gonna see a full list of documentation of how to actually implement it on your website. Essentially it'll give you a big, big list of properties as well as the correct values for each of the properties. The thing I really like about is it's got a handy little code box right at the bottom of the page that shows you what your page looks like before and after the markup as added. But, how do you actually get it onto your site adhered, you ask? Well there's loads and loads of ways to do it, but for me the most popular way is something called JSON-LD, or Javascript Object Notation for Linked Data. But that's a bit of a mouthful.

- That's what she said!

- So a lot of people like to inject their JSON-LD via Tag Manager, but please remember that Tag Manager, if it isn't fired quick enough for Google to actually crawl it, Google's not gonna see any of your schema, so our recommendation is use JSON-LD to get it into the site, but code it directly into the template itself, 'cause that will then guarantee it can actually be picked up. So once you implement all of your click-through rate boosting techniques, you're gonna want to measure it to see if you're actually being effective or not, and the best place to measure it is in Google Search Console. So they're actually gonna give you a click-through rate for every single URL and keyword that's currently ranking. To see this information, simply log in and click on the performance tab, and that's gonna show you what's working and what's not working. That's everything for this week's Canonical Chronicle, please do hit the like button if you liked it and subscribe if you loved it, and until next time we will see you later.