What is CTR Manipulation, Why is it Important, and How Do You Manage It?
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Before we get into CTR manipulation, let’s quickly recap what CTR is and why it is so important.
CTR (Click-Through Rate) is calculated by dividing the number of clicks on your web page (or other web properties like a YouTube video, Google My Business, etc.) by the number of times your website page is shown, as a percentage.
Each time your page is displayed counts as an impression. For example, if you had 100 clicks and 2,000 impressions, then your CTR would be 5%.
The higher the CTR, the better – this indicates to the search engine that users find your website useful.
And the more useful or relevant your page appears to be to a search engine, the higher it will rank the page. As most people will click on the first three SERP (Search Engine Results Page) results listed, these are the positions to aim for.
According to this quote from Chris Palmer:
Traffic is the lifeblood of any online business. If a business is getting found and being clicked on, with users staying on a page, then search engines know they have done their job. That's the most powerful signal you can send to a search engine.
CTR manipulation aims to increase your CTR artificially. Traffic bots and micro workers mimic organic user behavior and trick a search engine such as Google, YouTube, Bing, Yahoo, Alexa, etc., into believing that a page has more authority than it actually has.
Google will therefore consider your page to be more relevant and move it up in the SERP, which will naturally lead to more organic traffic.
- What is a Good CTR Value to Aim For?
- Ways to Increase CTR Organically
- Ways to Manipulate CTR
- Other SEO Factors to Keep in Mind
What is a Good CTR Value to Aim For?
So, what is a good CTR percentage to aim for?
Well, although there are supposedly niche benchmarks, the best way by far is to look at what the top results of the SERP where you are competing for a particular keyword are achieving. One way to accomplish this is by using one of the best free SERP checkers.
By reviewing the CTR for the top search engine results pages with an SEO tool such as Ahrefs, you will see what rate you need to compete.
You can get the CTR for any of your own web pages from Google Search Console.
You want your CTR to appear natural and match the top-performing pages so that it does not get flagged as suspicious.
Generally speaking, CTR can be a volatile metric that is easily influenced by, for example, an email marketing campaign generating more clicks than usual. You can expect spikes following a successful email campaign.
It is key that any rate manipulation appears to result from regular organic search activity. You do not want your CTR to inexplicably jump overnight but rather grow gradually over time and then maintain its value.
That means that you need to continuously monitor your CTR and take the necessary steps to maintain it through manipulation or organic means.
If you use CTR manipulation and then suddenly stop, your CTR will jump back to its original lower position and possibly raise suspicion.
Ways to Increase CTR Organically
There are alternative (White Hat SEO) practices that you can implement to increase your CTR organically. After all, nothing beats “real” traffic.
One strategy you could consider is to use bots or micro workers in conjunction with more traditional methods.
That way, you can explain any sudden increase in CTR.
And here are some ways to increase clicks organically:
If you have built up an email list, then an email campaign can be a powerful tool to drive traffic to your website. Each email should have a clear objective and a compelling call to action to visit your website.
Push notifications (to mobile devices) are a new efficient and effective way to engage with your customers. As with emails, though, these notifications need to be engaging and capture your customers’ attention; otherwise, they will just be ignored.
Paid Social Media Ads
All the major social media networks offer paid ads. But targeting all of them may not be cost-effective. Understand where your customers spend most of their time and advertise on those platforms only.
Having said that, Facebook is great for building brand awareness and extending reach, so that may be an excellent place to start.
Using Google Adwords
Google Adwords (or ads on any other search platform) can be very effective in catching the attention of potential visitors to your site and directing them there. But this method can be costly.
Organic Social Media
Increase your social media presence and activity on any social platform to drive traffic to your website pages.
I also recommend you read 24 Ways to Get Free Advertising Online for Your Business or Website for more ideas.
Ways to Manipulate CTR
For CTR manipulation to be successful, it must appear to Google to be natural and relevant to your site. Otherwise, it may penalize your website, dropping you in the rankings for up to two years, or in the worst case, banning you entirely.
Google especially is very aware of these practices and monitors website performance for any shady actively (also known as Grey Hat or Black Hat SEO).
The results of once-off manipulation are usually pretty much instantaneous. But they are also typically short-lived. And Google will register a sudden spike in CTR as an anomaly rather than a statistical change.
Again, you must carefully control manipulation efforts to imitate “natural” growth and stability.
CTR Manipulation Bots
A CTR bot is a software program that uses IP proxies to generate traffic to a particular page on your website.
Utilizing a keyword you provide, it will search for the keyword in a search engine. When a traffic bot finds your site in the search results, the bot will then visit your site, simulating the actions of a human visitor.
In theory, these bots are designed not to leave any footprints, which could reveal that the traffic is coming from the same source.
Using a CTR bot can generate bulk traffic to your website very quickly. And there are many of these programs to choose from.
But this is where you need to be very cautious – reportedly, some of these programs don’t work at all, so it is best to go for a reputable brand.
In addition, mobile proxies would appear to work better than the conventional kind (according to well-known SEOs Chris Palmer and Craig Campbell).
It is also worth noting that you cannot go through one click-through rate manipulation exercise and expect lasting results. The manipulation would have to be sustained until your website page has achieved the desired ranking and has stabilized there.
Technically, using CTR traffic bots is considered a Black Hat SEO practice. As mentioned before, it has some inherent risks.
It can, however, have a significant impact on your CTR.
Using Micro Workers
Microworkers.com uses actual human beings to perform small (or micro) tasks. Amazon Mechanical Turk is another crowdsourcing marketplace with a distributed workforce that virtually performs tasks. These services are very cheap and easy to implement.
Micro tasks can take any form, but in the context of CTR, a micro task would consist of a person going through much the same actions as a CTR bot, i.e., executing a query for a specified keyword, then visiting your site, and performing various previously defined activities while on the site.
As a customer, you need to provide a very detailed template of the work you want the micro worker to perform. They should also include proof that the task was actually carried out.
It is relatively cheap to use these micro workers, and as they are all individuals using their own IP addresses, the proxy issue is not a problem. Microworkers.com sources workers from around the world, and you can specify which country you want your workers to reside in. That way, you can ensure that your traffic resembles your target market.
As with CTR manipulation bots, using micro workers cannot be seen as generating regular traffic – it is an artificial manipulation of your CTR. And again, you would have to carefully manage the process to avoid any sudden traffic spikes or unexpected drops.
Chris Palmer, a well-known SEO expert, offers a Bulk CTR Manipulation course that is well worth looking at.
Other SEO Factors to Keep in Mind
Search engines monitor:
- How often your page is clicked
- How long users stay on your site
- The bounce rate of your site
- If users return to your site
- Device types used
This is known as User Behavior data – a key part of what RankBrain monitors. You need to ensure quality content that makes users stay and engage with your page. And your site must be secure, fast, and mobile-friendly.
So, SEO strategies and user experience together determine SERP ranking.
CTR has undoubtedly become more important lately. But it is not the only SEO factor to consider.
Your page title is the first thing potential visitors see on Google, so a catchy title that addresses the users’ query is very important.
Equally important is your page’s meta description, which should draw viewers in and convince them to click on your page.
Good quality content that is easy to take in and keeps your reader engaged is perhaps even more critical. If your content is not up to par, visitors will simply click away and find a competitor site.
And, of course, backlinks remain all-important in SERP rankings. Take a look at our article on how to get the backlinks that your competitors have.
Another article I can recommend covers broken link-building strategies to get more legitimate backlinks.
Search engines aim to present users with the most relevant content to have a good experience, get their queries answered, and return to use the same search engine.
SERP results reflect the search engine’s assessment of the most appropriate answers to user searches.
Although it is acknowledged to be very important, according to Google, CTR is not a ranking factor. However, many SEO experts disagree.
But it is clear that the more traffic you get to your page, the more likely you are to move up in the SERP rankings. So you can say that Google and other search engines reward organic traffic to your website page.
Traffic generated through CTR manipulation is by definition not organic and therefore against Google's rules. Click-through rate manipulation is at best a Grey Hat SEO practice, and you should be aware of the significant risks that it carries.
SEO is a hugely complex subject that is ever-evolving – we have hardly scratched the surface in this article. It is worth learning more about SEO and implementing White Hat SEO practices before opting for rate manipulation using bots or micro workers.
What is CTR manipulation and does it work?
CTR manipulation (or Click-Through Rate Manipulation) is the practice of artificially increasing traffic to your website or rather, a particular page on your website.
It is designed to resemble organic traffic and trick a search engine into increasing your rankings because it perceives your page as popular and providing helpful information.
CTR manipulation does work in that it can quickly and drastically increase traffic to your site. However, for a search engine to improve your ranking, traffic has to grow gradually and be maintained.
Click-through rate manipulation is against Google rules, and as such, it is a risky practice.
For what reason is CTR SEO significant?
As the organic traffic to your site increases, Google (or any other search engine) will naturally move your site up in the SERP rankings.
And as we know, the top three sites statistically get many more clicks than other sites on the first page of Google. So ranking higher in itself leads to more traffic.
It follows then that CTR SEO is indeed significant, and you should not ignore it.
When is the best time to implement CTR manipulation?
The best time to consider this practice is when your web page is “stuck” on the first or second page of Google (or whatever search engine you are using) and not moving up in the rankings to one of the top positions despite all your other SEO efforts.
In this scenario, CTR manipulation could give you the boost you need to get to the top of the SERP or move to where you think your page should realistically be.
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