Google has recently improved its Webmaster Tools by improving its “Search Queries” report which lists:
- The top search queries for which your site appeared in search results
- The number of impressions that query received
- The number of clicks each query received
- The Click Through Rate (CTR) of each query
- The Average Position of each query
It starts by showing a nice graph of impressions vs clicks:
And then really gets amazing by showing details of clickthru rates and rankings, query by query:
Three reasons why this is important:
- Google now provides authoritative data of where you rank for each keyword phrase. It actually averages the position if you showed up in multiple spots and it shows which pages showed up in each spot. No more guessing!
- By producing the Click Thru Rate (CTR) for search results, Google may actually be revolutionizing the SEO industry. We can now see how often a high ranking by itself doesn’t convert impressions into clicks. Finally, SEO companies like Blizzard Internet can impress upon customers the value of writing compelling titles and descriptions (which increase CTR), the value of worrying about sitelinks, the value of coming up in multiple spots. To put it bluntly, we can focus on clicks from Google instead of rankings. Looking at the data, it is clear that a high ranking doesn’t automatically lead to a click
- Google is demonstrating it knows the CTR of specific queries and websites. I believe this is the first step to a major change in Google’s algorithm. My prediction is that soon you will move up or down partly based upon your CTR. Better start improving those CTRs if you want to keep the top spot!
It should come as no surprise that CTR could become part of the algorithm. Google has ranked PPC in AdWords for a long time based upon click-thru rates… why not move that into its organic algorithm? I think it is gonna happen!
Want more evidence? Google also has a load-time monitor in its webmaster tools, and your load time is now part of the organic ranking algorithm. Google knows that websites that load fast are more enjoyable by its users… so it bumps them up a bit. If I were Google, I would start lowering websites that have below average CTRs for specific queries… they are a waste of search engine real estate.
I recommend you start investing in improving your CTRs of your important keyword phrases… start by writing and testing better titles and descriptions. Stop stuffing keywords in there.
Want to know what is next? Bounce rates! Google knows if users do a search, click on your site, and bounce back! Another sign that you don’t deserve to rank for that keyword phrase. BTW, this factor is also already in Google’s Adwords algorithm. I bet we are talking about that in the next year.