Infographic: 11 amazing hacks that will boost your organic click-through rates


Do you care about your organic click-through rate (CTR)?

You should.


For one thing, pages that have a higher-than-expected CTR tend to rank higher in search results. Every three-percent increase in CTR beyond the expected for a given organic position will improve your organic rankings, on average, by one position.

For another, pages with higher CTRs tend to have higher conversion rates. If you get people excited enough to click on your search listing, that excitement tends to carry through all the way to a conversion, whether it’s capturing a lead or making a sale.

Do you care now?

Read on for 11 super-useful tips for increasing your CTR and an infographic that sums it all up with plenty of actionable advice.

1. Identify your content with the lowest CTR

You may have a terrible CTR and not even know it. So let’s find out!

Start by downloading your search analytics data from the Google Search Console (your clicks, impressions, CTR and position).


Then, plot your organic search CTR vs. your organic ranking in Excel. Apply an exponential average curve (It’s the black line, above).

You want to focus on the keywords and pages that fall below the black line, especially the bottom 10 percent – your donkeys. Don’t mess with the keywords above the black line, especially your top 10 percent; those are your unicorns.

Increasing one of your donkeys (bottom 10 percent) into one of your unicorns (top 10 percent) can increase clicks by 6x! Amazing, right?

Whatever you do, don’t mess with your unicorns. You might accidentally convert them into donkeys, and your pages will suddenly start getting fewer clicks and conversions.

2. Avoid keyword-focused titles

What’s the optimal title tag look like? Traditional SEO advice is to put your primary keyword at the start, include a secondary keyword, and include the brand name at the end.

Boring! These types of title tags don’t inspire ridiculously high CTRs — they will always deliver average results (at best). Just say no to donkeys!


It’s time to break up with old-school, keyword-heavy titles. The future of Google is machine learning, which rewards high CTRs with organic visibility.

3. Use emotional triggers

Emotions make people click like crazy. So if you want to dramatically increase your CTR, use an emotional hook.

For example, an SEO-focused title might look like this: “Late Screen Breast Cancer: 10 Things You Need to Know.”

But look what happens if we rewrite it with some emotion (fear): “With Late Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Survival Rate Falls to 22% — Get Screened Today.”

The more emotional headline is more attention-grabbing, meaning that CTR is likely to improve.

4. Write in persona

Are your headlines relatable? Try writing using a persona.

Four personas that deliver crazy high CTRs are:

  • The Bearer of Bad News.
  • The Hero or Villain.
  • The Comedian.
  • The Feel Good Friend.

5. Use a numbered list

Ah, listicles.

18 Photos That Won’t Make Sense To Sisterless Families. 10 Things You Learn From Being Raised By A Strong Mother. 5 Reasons You Clicked This Headline.

You know them. You love them. You click on them.

That means you should use them. In fact, research from Conductor found that numbers in headlines boost CTR by 36 percent!

6. A proven formula for super-clickable headlines

One of my earlier Search Engine Land articles shared five headline hacks for crazy high organic click-through rates. I encourage you to click on that link for a more detailed discussion about each of these headline elements (applied below to the headline of this piece):

  • Format (e.g., “11”)
  • Emotional hook (e.g., “Amazing”)
  • Content type (e.g., “Hacks”)
  • Promise (e.g., “That Will Boost Your”)
  • Topic (e.g., “Organic Click-Through Rates”)

7. Add power words to your description

Secret. Huge. Instant. These are just a few powerful words and phrases that grab people’s attention and make them click.

So use them to your advantage! Include power words in your description.

Here’s an example of a description that uses power words (bolded):

Dramatically improve your website’s loading speed with these 27 simple hacks. Learn how to make your users thrilled to visit your website.

8. Use descriptive URLs

Descriptive URLs get 25 percent more clicks than “generic” URLs, according to Microsoft research.

A generic URL might look like this:

While a descriptive URL might look like this:

9. Try out many DIFFERENT headlines

You should spend more time writing your headline than writing the text content that follows it. According to one stat that’s been repeated ad nauseam for years, on average, 80 percent of people won’t bother to go past your headline (though I’d bet that number is even higher today).

When I say different, I mean really different — not just changing punctuation or capitalization, like so:

  • How to Write a Book Fast
  • How to Write a Book FAST
  • How to Write a Book…FAST
  • How To Write A Book…Fast!
  • How to write a book, fast.

The above constitutes one headline (not five!) with only a few minor cosmetic changes.

Change the emotion. Change the persona. Change your CTR for the better!


10. Audition your headline ideas with Google AdWords

PPC ads are a great way to discover a unicorn headline. And you can do it for no more than $50. You’re going to create an ad that points to the page you want to transform from a donkey into a unicorn.

Google designed Expanded Text Ads to look identical to organic search listings. So use them! Here’s how:

  • Create 10 or more ads in the same ad group.
  • Bid for the same position.
  • Set your ads to rotate evenly.
  • Use broad match keyword targeting to show up for many different queries.

(Note: To save money, try running your ads in a country with lower CPCs.)

Run the test until each headline has 200 impressions. If a clear winner emerges, use it; if there is no outlier, then write a new batch of at least 10 headlines and try it again.

11. Test your headline ideas with Facebook posts

As with AdWords, you can test out new headlines using paid and organic posts on social media.

The same emotions that make people click on social media posts also make people click on organic search results.

So if you find a headline that has high engagement rates on Facebook, it will also have a higher organic CTR. The opposite is also true.


The following infographic, courtesy of yours truly and the brilliant Brian Dean of Backlinko, sums up all our advice and adds graphics to illustrate how you can quickly boost your CTR. Keep it handy for reference and inspiration as you put these tactics to work!


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