5 Things That Will Give You a Low CTR Even If You’re Number One in the SERPs

Lana Rafaela
Updated on

If you feel like you’re the only one with low CTRs (click-through rates) at the top of the SERPs, don’t worry. 

SEOs everywhere feel the problem.

There are a handful of reasons that affect your click-through rate. Today, I’ll walk you through the common causes behind a low CTR and show you what you can do to improve. 

Let’s take a look!

Is Your CTR Too Low?

The average click-through rate for organic content in the first spot is 39%. However, even a great page can experience significantly lower rates, thanks to…

5 Common Causes for Low SERP Click-Through Rates

SERP Layout

In some cases, it’s not you. It’s Google.

These days, less than half of Google searches result in a click

Google tries hard to serve the right results to searchers, which has caused an uptick in new features like:

  • Featured snippets
  • Answer boxes for simple queries
  • New ad types

Crowded SERPs

If you look up “gardening shop,” you’ll need to scroll down past ads, third-party results, and maps to reach the page that ranks #1. 

Many searchers find what they need before they even see the organic results. 

Images and Videos Take up the Top Spots

If your SERP features a lot of images and videos, your “SERP real estate” will be lower. 

An informational query like “how to plant garlic” serves a featured snippet, PAA, videos, and more before reaching organic results!

Instant Answers and Featured Snippets

Don’t target simple queries that an AI can answer. 

Search terms that have simple answers provide notoriously low CTR.

Similarly, Featured Snippets are a great way to reach position zero, but if they provide an answer right in the SERP, the searcher has no reason to click through. 

Informational Queries

Many SEOs strongly suspect that Google serves answers directly in the SERP for informational queries. 

When you look up a purchasing intent keyword, the SERP isn’t as chaotic:

Your main CTR competitors will be ads, and the People Also Ask section.

So if you analyze your SERP, only to realize it’s full of features pushing your pages down, focus on long-tail keywords and bottom-of-the-funnel content

Ads

If SERPs are crowded for informational queries, then ads rule the transactional queries. Depending on your searcher’s location, they could see four ads before reaching the organic results. 

Organic-Looking Ads

Advertisers are copping on to the appeal of organic results, so you’ll find ads that mimic the look and feel of comparison guides more often these days. 

Secondly, Google itself is making ads look more like organic results. 

An average searcher will have a hard time distinguishing them from other pages. 

Look for Advertising Blind Spots

Fortunately, advertising depends on many factors – including keywords and the searchers’ location. 

Advertisers still aren’t bidding on long-tail keywords and particular questions en masse, so there’s still a way to increase CTR on your other pages.

If we look at the PPC side, advertisers need to have specific landing pages to compete successfully for their keywords. They can’t just chuck hundreds of keywords into the same campaign – they need to be relevant.

This significantly reduces the number of possible queries they can target. 

Zero Search Volume Keywords

Speaking of queries that aren’t interesting to advertisers, advertisers will rarely use zero (or low) search volume keywords.

Search volume data isn’t 100% accurate, so these detailed keywords still get decent traffic

The volume isn’t high enough for Google Ads, but it’s a fantastic avenue for your website. 

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Your Content

Finally, if your target SERP isn’t chock-full of ads or shiny new SERP features, you may have an easily solvable problem.

The first two things searchers see are your title and your meta description. They need to be compelling.

Understand the Searcher’s Intent

Understand the searcher’s journey: if they’re looking for the “best garden tool for cutting branches,” what does that tell you about their needs? 

The more detailed the query, the easier it will be to gauge what searchers want.

In this case, not a single article responds to the query. They’re all related but not specific. 

Searchers are more likely to click through if you can be specific and match the query in full.

Does It Make Sense to Write Content for a Low-Volume Query?

It depends on the volume, and it depends on the topic. 

Start by writing short content and then evaluate – how much traffic are you getting from it?

Even if tools show you the search volume is low, it may be worth expanding if you’re getting thousands of hits for the query. 

How to Improve Your SERP Click-Through Rate

Target Long-Tail Keywords

First, focus on long-tail keywords that don’t make sense for ads. They’re often ignored by SEOs, too, so your position can’t be affected by Featured Snippets and other SERP features.

For example, a generic SERP like “gardening tools” will be full of gimmicks that devalue your organic position.

But a SERP for a detailed query like “gardening tools for bad backs” doesn’t have gimmicks. 

The volume is lower, but your CTR will be higher.

It’s All About the Intent

Informational queries are fair game to Google – it’s not profiting off them so that it can keep searchers in its ecosystem.

On the other hand, transactional keywords need to direct searchers to ads’ landing pages. 

At this moment, Google can’t “play” with them without affecting its revenue. 

The next time you analyze your competition, pay attention to your PPC competition and learn from them, too. 

You’ll see quite a few advertisers whose ads mimic organic search results to satisfy the searcher’s intent.

Avoid Competitive Keywords

Avoid competitive keywords with full ad spots if you don’t want to risk it. If you see 4 ads above the organic results and a few at the bottom of the page, focus on other queries.

Try tactics to find easy keywords in competitive niches, or experiment with low-volume keywords:

  • Questions
  • Comparison
  • Autocomplete suggestions

With LowFruits, you can insert your seed keyword and generate hundreds (and thousands) of suggestions. Then, filter by modifiers and check out the SERPs within your dashboard to find profitable low-competition keywords.  

Experiment with New Content Types

Don’t focus solely on written content. 

If your SERP features videos and images, consider taking a page from your competitor’s book. 

Try tools like Lumen5 to turn your blog posts into videos. 

Since searchers check Google Images for helpful content, optimize for visuals with infographics. 

Being the Number One Doesn’t Guarantee High CTR

But it all depends on your keywords.

The search has changed. It’s hard enough to compete against advertisers without having to get through the forest of SERP features.

Still, there are ways to get a higher click-through rate:

  • Focus on different keywords (low volume & long-tail)
  • Rank for keywords with particular transactional intent
  • Experiment with new content types

Have you found any other methods? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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