The decline of organic CTR and what it means for SEO

Published by Coralie Pilte  on 20th February 2019

SparkToro’s Rand Fishkin recently published an interesting article on Google’s monopoly over search results, not only when looking at SERPs but also at how their strategy is impacting SEO and click-through opportunities for websites.

In this article, he dives deep onto Google’s supremacy over search, whether we’re looking at Google Search, Google Images, Google Maps or YouTube, which account for over 95% of all searches in the EU and UK in 2018. Talk about a monopoly…

Sparktoro analysins Google's search market share

What this means for businesses is that being present on the different Google platforms is more important than ever but Click-Through opportunities are also becoming scarcer. We’ll dive into some of our top tips to get the oh-so-important clicks further in the article, so keep reading!

This comes from two major things:

  • Mobile traffic.
  • Google’s very own strategy to provide users with rich search results.

Mobile traffic now accounts for 52.2% of searches worldwide. This has already had an impact on bounce rates and time spent on page, but now it is also linked with lower organic CTR opportunities.  Since 2016, these opportunities have nearly dropped 10% in the UK and EU.

Why you may ask? Well, let’s take a look at how search results appear on mobile.

The first thing you see are ads, followed by map results for local searches. This leaves the user scrolling down to get to the organic result, and well. We all know from both a personal experience and data that users are becoming more and more impatient. This means they’ll click on the first results they see: paid ads rather than organic results more often than not.

Another key element that works for Mobile, Tablets and Desktop is Rich Search Results. For this article, we’ll include the Knowledge Panel in the Rich Search Results. Over the last couple of years, Google has not only been provided users with links to websites that hold the answer to their query, but now features the answers on the results page. Think about Featured Snippets that answer a question, recipe cards, product lists, images, Google Maps results and so on. Google now provides the answer, whether you’re asking for the weather, conversion rates, a cookie recipe or searching for a new pair of trainers. Users don’t always have to click-through to get the answers they are looking for. This generates a new type of search: “No-Click Searches”.

Google Rich Results

Whilst no-click searches are on the rise and present an issue, it means SEO marketers and businesses need to become smarter about their digital strategy and what KPIs they look at.

Some might argue that this will lead to a decline in SEO. On the contrary, it leaves with new opportunities to hone on our skills, develop new strategies and innovative ideas to achieve key results. Here are some ideas to help you boost website traffic, whether from SEO, PPC or social media.

Strategy #1: Optimise your content for Rich Search Results

With people spending less time scrolling down and looking at Rich Search Results and the Knowledge Panel, you want to make sure your content is optimised for Featured and Rich Snippets.

This means using Schema Markup on relevant pages, making sure you structure your content properly on pages, use images and alt text, provided descriptions alongside your videos…

It takes time to optimise content for Rich Search Results and the opportunities to rank are harder to achieve with the constant competition, but working alongside a digital agency and an SEO expert will help you relieve some of the pressure and help you craft content targeted for rich/featured snippets.


Strategy #2: Be present on other Google Channels

We have highlighted that rich search results often come from Google’s own channels, whether it is Maps, Images or YouTube, so you want to make sure your content appears on these channels, as this will maximise your opportunities to appear in Rich Search Results.

But making sure you have images on your website or have videos on YouTube isn’t enough. Your content will need to be optimised for these channels as well. This means adding Alt. Text description to your images and including keywords in your video titles and descriptions for example.


Strategy #3: Bet on Local SEO

If you’re a local business, you’ll want to make sure you have a Google My Business account and update it regularly, to appear in the knowledge panel and in the Maps results. You’ll also want to consider adding reviews to your website or Google My Business, as well as Schema Mark-up to your website. After all, map results offer three spots on top of the first page of Google, which means more opportunities for clicks and finding relevant customers!


Strategy #4: Think PPC

Invest in PPC, even with a small budget, especially if you get a lot of mobile traffic! As we have seen, ads appear first on mobile, so being at the top of the page will definitely help you get more clicks! This is also valid for highly competitive organic keywords, where ranking on the first page is harder.


Strategy #5: Don’t forget about social media and other referral opportunities

Finally, don’t forget about the overall digital eco-system! SEO rankings are an essential part of it, but customers also use social media on a daily basis, so maximise your presence on these channels and consider paid social media strategies.

Why not develop referral opportunities through relevant partnerships? Backlinks are a key part of SEO rankings but more than that, they are a unique opportunities for potential customers to discover your website from a source they trust!


If all of this feels overwhelming, don’t worry, our digital marketing team is here to help you grab the best opportunities available. So get in touch today!