Don’t Get Pand-ized! Fix Pages that Fail to Earn Clicks

In this post you’ll learn how to identify pages on your site that fail to earn clicks and what to do about them.

If you’re an experienced SEO, you probably won’t gain much from this post. If you’re a lawyer or a law firm marketing manager who “handles the SEO” at your firm, you should probably read this.

As you should definitely know by now, in early Feb 2011, Google made a major algorithm update targeting thin content, content farms, sites with high ad-to-content ratios, and a number of other quality issues.

Unfortunately, per usual, Google hasn’t come out and said, “this is thin content and this is not.” However, at least in my view, they have given us a lot of guidance.

One way to think about what Google wants is to think about click-through rate (CTR). In this context, CTR is a comparison between the number of times a page is shown in a SERP (impressions) and the number of times it is clicked:

CTR = Clicks / Impressions

Google has already conceded that CTR is a major factor in calculating quality score on the paid advertising of its house. Many SEOs have reasoned that CTR also plays a role on the organic side.

If you think about it, this is a reasonable hypothesis. Google wants people to continue to use Google so that they can sell ads. At least one factor in determining whether people are finding Google’s results useful is the rate at which they click on listings. Search listings that have a higher CTR would, at least in theory, that those listings are more relevant and popular to users.

If you buy into this theory (as I do), the next step is to figure out which of your pages have low CTRs and find ways to improve CTR.

It should be obvious that at least one variable contributing to CTR is avg. position. In other words, on average, where your pages appear for a particular search query. Since Google went all (not provided) in GA, there are really only two primary ways to understand your organic impressions, clicks, CTR and avg. position.

The first is to subscribe to a tool that scrapes search result pages and cross-reference position data with paid search data.

The second is to rely on Google Webmaster Tools.

Again, these are just two ways, there are others.

Smart SEO guy, Dan Shure recently tweeted:

In order to pull this report, you will need to have Google Analytics (GA) linked to your Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) account (you can also view CTR in GWT, but this is a bit better visualization).

Now that you can see which pages aren’t commanding clicks, you can put together a plan for improving them.

Over at Search Engine Land, Stone Temple Consulting’s Eric Enge provides some useful tips (paraphrased):

  • Deliver the fastest possible answer to the searcher’s question
  • Create pages that are unique and provide something that isn’t found anywhere else on the web.
  • If you have them, and you can use them, include brand and trust signals (testimonials, case studies, endorsements, privacy policy, etc) Real ones, not like these.

And now, here’s Rand:

Wistia

Thanks Rand. Here are a few important takeaways:

  • Design & UX – So overlooked by lawyers. Let’s say you work hard to put good stuff on your site. But your site’s design, theme, color scheme, etc, aren’t very attractive. So, when people land on your pages they’re like, “Bleh,” and they click back. Uh-oh, you could be Pand-ized. Pages don’t load on mobile devices? Pand-ized! Your site’s design matters!
  • Make ‘em say wow! – Do your pages make visitors say, “Holy crap I have to share this immediately?” No? Potentially Pand-ized. Also, I’m not talking about your circle of legal buddies on G+ that share every single thing you post. I’m talking about the rest of the world…
  • Get ‘em to click around – Even smart web savvy lawyers get this one wrong. Their entire focus is inquiry conversion. And there’s no doubt that you want people to call, email, etc, so that they can hire you and pay for all this web marketing. But if they “convert” and click back or “convert” and close their browser or tab without clicking another page, you might get yourself Pand-ized. Yep, all you direct response marketing types out there might actually be hurting yourselves if you don’t provide additional engagement opportunities that motivate people to stick around and click around (I bet you hadn’t thought of this one).

Now go forth and make your pages better!