Google’s Algorithm Using Internal CTR Data for Rankings

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This is a new report available in webmaster tools.   It shows the CTR for organic phrases associated with various rankings.   Google clearly does testing here to achieve the optimal search results for any particular phrase.  Because of this, brand recognition and brand perception are starting to play a role in actual positioning of your website for keywords versus just how likely someone is to click on your result.    It’s more likely for someone to click on a business they are familiar with and have favorable perception than someone they’ve never heard of which in tern will create a higher clickthrough rate.   A higher click through rate signals to Google that your results are more relevant and can increase your organic positioning for that particular phrase.

Google knows what the average CTR should be for any particular position and if your result is under-performing, guess what, your website is going to be replaced with a site that can deliver a CTR that’s more in line with their expectations of that particular SERP position.

What exactly does this mean for your business?  It means when considering an SEO program, you can no longer focus on just keywords and Page Rank.  Because of  Google using internal CTR data in it’s algorithm, it is a factor that no SEO can dileberatly manipulate which will ultimately mean Google has more control over the relevance of their results.   This is good for the end user who doesn’t want spammy results.   However, this means as a web marketer, we have to try to find ways to increase the relevance for this particular factor which means we have to actually increase the CTR for our organic listings.  How do we do this you ask?      Well, brand recognition is an important factor to whether or not someone clicks on your listing.  This means we have to put on our more traditional marketing hats and integrate some brand awareness and positioning techniques into our SEO campaigns.

A great place to start is social media.   Using social media to build awareness and create a personality behind your brand is a great starting point.  It is highly cost effective when compared to other traditional marketing avenues as well as the major benefit that it’s online.   This allows users who have an active interest during any branding campaigns to easily click over and view your website.    In web marketing, we always want to measure everything by cost per conversion.  However, with branding campaigns, this metric gets more obscure.  Your point isn’t necessarily to convert every visitor that sees your marketing message. Your point is more to implant your brand and a perception of your brand so that when that person needs your product or service 6 months or a year down the road and is doing a non-branded keyword search, they recognize your brand and click on your result.

Not only do you get more visitors to come to your website because they click on your organic results more often, since your improving your CTR, you can also improve your organic rankings which will put you into a position that naturally generates higher CTR so you get a double growth effect.   You get more visitors due to the higher rankings and you get more visitors because a higher percent of people who see your ranking are going to click on your result.

So the next time you are evaluating which SEO firm to use, be sure to ask about their take on how branding campaigns can influence your organic rankings!