When I first heard of CTR manipulation a few years ago also known as “Click Through Rate Manipulation” the first thing I thought was that there is no way that search engines would use something like CTR as a major ranking factor. I had always ranked with good on page optimization and building powerful backlinks.
But I was wrong about CTR not playing a major role especially over the last couple years. As it turns out from personal testing and other leading SEO’s in the industry, how many people are clicking your link when a webpage of yours appears in the search results is actually a pretty big ranking factor in 2021 and I believe has had an influence on rankings for a few years now.
I also believe how many people in general click through and visit that piece of content whether it be from a social share, email blast or paid advertisement is another helpful indicator that your content has value and this can be a positive signal to search engines.
I am not saying that this is the only factor because I still believe backlinks play a major role but I will say the more I thought about this, the more it made sense and my answer is YES, CTR Manipulation absolutely can work and here is my reasoning.
When people click on your link in the search engine results that means you must have done something right, so Google is going to reward you for that. Since Google wants to give its users the best experience possible it’s only natural for them to give a push to sites they feel are giving searchers the content and answers that they are looking for.
If you are competing for specific search terms and more searchers keep choosing your content over your competitors this can definitely be a positive signal towards any ranking algorithm in my honest opinion.
I also believe that it is not just the click through that is important but how long they actually stay on your website along with what search query they used to find your website, video or any other platform you are looking to rank higher.
Since Click Through Rate seems important these days, then it should come as no surprise to you that people have started finding ways to manipulate it in order to get better rankings.
I thought this was a bad idea at first, but after doing a little digging and learning more about the subject I realized that CTR manipulation can be a legit strategy and you can do it without raising any red flags if you’re smart about it.
My team and I started testing this theory a few years ago and had some mixed results. It was not until a few months ago that we had run several new tests and the results were pretty impressive. (I share Our Live Results Later On Down Below)
What Does CTR Stand For?
In case you are just learning SEO and newbie let me break this down for you in simple terms.
Your CTR is your “click through rate.” The term can be used in any instance in which you want to get clicks, such as on social media, the buy button on your webpages, or links in an email. In this case we’re talking about the clicks you get when your webpage shows up in Google or another search engine.
Something that’s important to understand about CTR is that it doesn’t mean your total number of clicks. Instead, it is referring to the percentage of people who click your link in comparison to those who don’t. For example, if 100 people land on a sales page and 12 of them click the buy button, that’s a 12% CTR.
So, what’s a good CTR to aim for? Well that depends on what you’re trying to do. When it comes to the search results your main goal is to get a higher Click Through Rate than the pages ranked above you. This will let Google know that your page is more popular and more worthy than their pages, and hopefully convince it to rank you higher as a result.
What Exactly is Click Through Rate?
Think about ClickThrough Rate like this: You’re running an apple stand and 10 people come up to it to have a look. Ultimately, two of these people end up doing business with you and make a purchase. That would be a 20% conversion rate. Click through rate is like this, but for search engines.
When someone types in a search term or uses voice command with Google or whatever search engine they are using will give them a list of results. If your webpage shows up, that’s like someone taking a look at your apple stand and considering whether or not to buy an apple. If they give you a click and visit your website, then that’s like them purchasing an apple in our example.
The psychology behind what makes a person click is very simple. When people do searches online, they are looking for something very specific most of the time. This being the case, they tend to click on the first link that they see that most closely matches what they’re looking for.
Usually good titles that stand out in the search can be very enticing and can definitely help with winning that click. I will also say good, quality well put together content is always best practice so that you can keep the searcher on your website and not clicking off to find a better resource.
There Are Three Major Takeaways Here:
- Ranking higher up in the search engine results is a huge advantage.
- Catchy and well enticing titles that appear in the search can help you win the click
- Quality content that keeps the viewer engaged, on your platform and answers their question will give you the best result.
What is CTR Manipulation?
CTR manipulation is exactly what it sounds like; manipulating your Click Through Rate on your website or platforms in order to send a signal to the search engine that your content warrants specific traffic.
Once again, I’m talking about your search results CTR since that’s what we’re focusing on and I personally feel is the more significant type of metric. If you’re wondering if it’s even really possible to manipulate your search results Click Through Rate, or if this is just some kind of gag, let me assure you, it is possible, and I prove it in a case study below.
Now, many people do not realize that when you share a blog post to your social platforms or to an email list and it gets clicked and visitors start landing on that specific post this in fact is a form of organic CTR Manipulation. (A great technique but I feel it is not as powerful as direct search engine CTR traffic)
One thing to keep in mind is that by its very nature CTR manipulation is frowned upon by major search engines like Google. This means that if you’re going to do it, you should really know what you are doing and consider the most organic approach and method.
For now though, let’s focus on the nature of CTR, and the psychology surrounding it. This will help you to have a better understanding of how to manipulate it the most organic and powerful way.
Is CTR a Ranking Factor?
Yes, I personally believe CTR is now considered a ranking factor. This was a surprise to me when I first learned of it, but it honestly shouldn’t have been.
Top search engines like Google want to promote the best sites possible using its search engine so naturally they would consider a high CTR as a piece to the ranking factor.
This is one of those cases where success leads to more success. The more your search engine listing gets clicks, the higher it will rank, and the more clicks it will get. It’s a pretty neat cycle if it’s working in your favor. The only problem is that getting things started can be tough, which is why CTR manipulation exists.
Something else that you should keep in mind is the fact that your CTR is just one of many ranking factors. While it is important, it alone won’t carry your webpages to the top of Google and the other search engines.
In fact, other SEO factors like your on page keyword optimization, backlinks, load times, and many other off page and on page SEO factors will be what determines your initial placement in the search engine rankings since you won’t have a significant CTR until you start getting a good number of impressions.
Why is Click Through Rate Important and How do You Measure It?
Since Click Through Rate comes into play later than most of the other SEO ranking factors you might be tempted to underestimate it. However, your CTR in the search results is still a big deal.
In fact, you can think of it as the final boot you need to really push your webpages up the search results and get them near the top. If you’re lucky you may even be able to get your site listed up in the “three pack” if you have a local business GMB and can generate enough traffic and clicks through your specific listing.
If you do have a GMB I would suggest first making sure all your optimization is fully done before thinking about increasing your listings CTR. There are many SEO case studies showing that Click Through Rate can also help increase GMB rankings.
As for measuring CTR, you can do that using Google Analytics. This handy software tracks all kinds of SEO data so that you can see just how effective your SEO strategies are, and if any areas need improvement.
To measure your Click Through Rate take a look in the Search Console Report section. This will show you your impressions vs CTR for the top 50 Google search terms used to find your website. It really is that simple. View this diagram below.
Best and Most Popular Methods for Implementing CTR Manipulation
Now let’s get into the good stuff; how to manipulate your CTR and increase your rankings. I’m going to be completely honest with you and let you know what’s 100% legit, and which ones may be somewhat risky. In either case, these CTR manipulation techniques work, and that’s what really counts.
As I mentioned earlier we really focused on the single search engine CTR Manipulation approach where we have searchers go over to the search engine and search specific keyword terms and then click on over to our content.
Here Is A List Of The 5 Most Common Methods
Using Bots:People use bots for all kinds of things online these days so it isn’t surprising that they’re using them to manipulate CTR. I am HIGHLY against this method and do not recommend it. A bot is just a program that will perform a simple task, such as giving a YouTube video likes, retweeting on Twitter, or in this case, clicking on your links in the search engine results.
Bots tend to come in two varieties; bot services, and bot programs that you use yourself. Regardless of which variety you choose, you have to be very careful which ones you use. Since this isn’t exactly an honest way to increase Click Through Rate, there are many bot services out there that are pretty shady and may even cause harm, or raise a red flag.
Also, many of the bot programs don’t work as well as they claim and can easily be detected by search engines which lead to results that in my opinion are not worth it.
If you’re going to use bots, make sure you really do your research and ask many questions. There are a few programs out there that can actually increase your CTR according to a few SEO’s who have tested bots, but just keep in mind this is the most blackhat approach so make sure that you do your due diligence beforehand.
Hiring Real People With Outsourcing Services:Another method for manipulating your CTR is by hiring actual people to click on your links in the search results. You might be thinking that this is crazy, or trying to wrap your head around how you would go about finding real people that will actually search, click and find the listing you want clicked on.
You see, services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or MicroWorkers which allow you to hire people to do small tasks for a small fee. Using this method you can get lots of different people with different IP addresses clicking on your links. How much this costs varies, but in a lot of cases you can get clicks for as little as a few cents per click.
The thing that you want to remember here is that even though real people will be searching and clicking your result, you want this to look as “organic” as possible. Understanding how to spread your clicks out over time, approximately how many clicks you need and through what types of searches is very important. I share a bit more on this in my case study down below.
Using An Email Blast:
Another method that is implemented by businesses sometimes without even knowing is when you have an email list and you can spike your click through rate by sharing your blog post, Youtube video or piece of content to that list.
This method is slightly different than when manipulating direct traffic through search results but it can still have a positive effect and definitely doesn’t hurt.So, if you have an email list I suggest you do share your content via email bast to your list to increase clicks, visitors and time on that page.
Sharing Your Link On Popular Social Accounts:
Another great thing to do and I usually do this for all my new blog posts and Youtube videos to increase the click through rate, time on site or watch time and views is sharing via social media accounts or in specific social media groups.
Obviously, the more social media followers that are engaged on your platforms or within a group the better this will be for your engagement.
Now, similar to email blasting this will only increase certain metrics from direct clicks over to your content and in my opinion it is not as powerful as CTR through the search engines from branded and keyword searches.This is still something I suggest you try to push for regardless since it only helps.
If you ever Google or scroll on any social media accounts and see the paid AD symbol or Sponsored Posts text this is another place where you can syphon traffic and clicks over to your designated piece of content.
You might search the search engines for specific terms and see a page or post being advertised in the top spots.This is definitely a way to increase and manipulate CTR by paying for the clicks. I feel this can definitely be a benefit if you have the budget to spend on a consistent basis to keep the traffic constant.
I believe that all of these techniques can work and if you can combine paid, email, social engagement along with branded and targeted keyword search clicks through the search engine you would highly increase the chances of you triggering your content as an authority piece.
If you really take a second to think about the concept you will realize that this is exactly how pieces of well written and quality content perform so well after getting shared and distributed so much by an organic diverse approach.
Real Live CTR Manipulation Case Study
Okay, so now into the fun stuff that you have been waiting for. We recently ran a few click through rate tests focusing on one main method for our local case study which was increasing the click through from searchers searching specific search terms and we also did a test on an affiliate and e-commerce website where we used two methods which was the click through from Google search terms and branded search along with some social traffic boost.
In this post we will focus on the local website which moved from page 3 to page 1 in about a month after implementing this.
Here is the local case study overview
Local Website: LubbockRoofingContractor.com
As you can see in this screenshot below from my Google sheets that we used for tracking after 1 month of CTR this was the results for the local main terms we wanted to increase rankings for.
As you can see our main term had a significant jump up to top page 1 and I credit this to a few key things.
- The Brand And Domain Is An EMD (Exact Match Domain)
- We Have Been Building Natural Links For A Few Months (Citations and Social Links)
- We Already Had A Positive Foundation In Our Movements With Our SEO
But, before implementing CTR we had been moving very slowly for months and not breaking page 2. I know without a doubt that this has most definitely given an incredible boost.
What is the Best Time to Implement CTR Manipulation?
I would say the best time to start is when you are at least indexed within the first 5 pages of the search engine for the term you want to boost but since CTR manipulation to me is now a piece of SEO, and SEO only gets stronger the longer it has been in place, the sooner you implement CTR manipulation the better.
However, if you do not have the funds or resources to do this SEO technique for months then a great time to implement this would be when you are on page 3 or 2 for the keyword term you are looking to boost just like you see I had did above.
Keep in mind that this is for local terms and every niche has different competitiveness. Really analyzing competitors brand search along with keyword search can help you determine search velocity. I would also suggest that you have a site that is somewhat aged for a few months with good on page and some good foundational off page SEO.
Also, gradually implementing this CTR search technique along with real social engagement and even some paid ads would definitely help you with a solid organic approach. I would also say branded searches are something I would always include.
That pretty much wraps up my overview and quick case study that has given the results above. Now, I also want to mention that with another case study after implementing CTR Manipulation for 2 months we went from bottom of page 2 to top of page 2 spot 11, then hit spot 10 for a day back to spot 13.
I believe this is because it was a good start for competitiveness but not enough and since we stopped after 2 months we have recently fallen to top page 3.We will now attempt this again with a longer approach and see what happens. If you have any questions leave them for my team over on my Youtube Channel where I talk about business and more importantly personal development.