If there’s one thing you can expect from Google’s algorithms and SEO best practices, it's that they can change at the drop of a hat. As digital marketers, we know this better than anyone, and we’re always ready to adjust our practices to help our clients stay competitive despite these changes.
On August 22, 2022, Google began implementing their ‘Helpful Content’ update, intended to make it easier for Google Search users to find content that relates to their search queries. Though time will tell exactly what kind of effect these updates will have on search engine visibility and ranking, we’re confident that our commitment to providing unique, original and valuable content means that content created for our clients will not be penalized under the new algorithm.
That being said, it’s perfectly understandable that you may have some questions about the nitty-gritty of how these changes will impact your franchise’s SEO strategy and services provided by an expert local SEO company. In this article, we’ll address one such concern: how this update will impact click-through rate.
The click-through rate, commonly abbreviated as CTR, is a measure of the proportion (or percentage) of users who click on a link out of the total number of users who see it. For example, a page on your site that appears on the first SERP (search engine results page) may be seen by 1,000 people but only clicked on by 10. This would give you a CTR of 1%.
Over the years, there has been considerable debate about whether the CTR is a ranking factor for Google. There’s no disputing that the first two or three results on the SERP have a substantially higher CTR than the results below it, but it’s harder to say whether getting lots of clicks push these pages to the top of the SERP, or whether they get a lot of clicks because they’re at the top of the SERP.
Based on data and studies that have been done in recent years, we can make a highly informed guess about the impact of CTR on organic rankings. It appears that CTR matters most for pages that are slightly below the top three results on the SERP.
Google has an ‘expected’ CTR for each position on the SERP. If your page gets a higher actual CTR than the expected CTR, Google seems to notice that it is performing beyond the benchmark and is therefore of high value to readers. In response, they’ll boost its ranking. Likewise, if your page has a lower CTR than expected, it may very well drop down a position or more on the SERP.
With Google’s new update coming into effect, understanding how this update will influence the value of CTR for organic rankings is an important consideration. Before getting into whether or not CTR will still be important for SEO going forward, we’ll briefly go over some of the main aspects of the update that are expected to impact CTR.
To sum up Google’s helpful content update in a single sentence, you could say that it is intended to improve the ranking of content that is made by human beings and for human beings instead of content that is designed for search engines. In their update announcement, Google stated that helpful content include that which:
Content that may be penalized includes articles and pages that:
There’s another caveat to the above points—if a website is found to have several pages deemed unhelpful by Google’s new update, the score of helpful content pages will also be pulled down in rankings. Google therefore states that removing unhelpful content from your site will help improve the ranking of the rest of your content.
So, how will all of this affect CTR?
The good news is that CTRs are directly impacted by whether or not someone perusing the SERP thinks that your page will answer their query. Wondering how they determine this? With a well-written, informative and captivating meta title and meta description.
But here’s the catch—if the meta title and description make promises that the content doesn’t deliver on, although you have a high CTR, Google may flag your page as being ‘unhelpful’ to the reader. Your meta title and description must therefore accurately reflect the content, and the content must adhere to the points in the section above to be valuable content for your readers.
Thus, as long as the content being posted on your franchise’s website is valuable, targeted, well-written, edited and meets the requirements of E-A-T, you should not only be able to attract visitors to your site, but be able to keep them there, too.
We get it. Big Google updates like this can be scary! While there are still many unknowns, our team at Digital Shift isn’t worried. We’re confident that your site will continue to perform well and we’ll continue to drive SEO results that help your business grow. Since day one, we’ve been committed to creating compelling, original and engaging content that is created for human beings rather than search engines. While SEO is still important, this always comes second.
By prioritizing originality, accurate research and an in-depth understanding of the home services industry, we’re already creating content that meets Google’s new ‘helpful content’ guidelines. In the event that changes need to be made to existing content to help your site’s organic rankings continue to grow, we’ll go back and optimize older content. CTR continues to be a valuable aspect of a great SEO strategy, and we’ll continue to focus on this and other aspects of your SEO in addition to the quality content our team of writers are already producing for you and your business.