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  • Posted on 7 May 2015

Do clicks in search results affect your rankings?


The statement that organic clicks affect your rankings is a controversial one. If clicks affect the rankings, would that mean that it becomes harder to change the rankings, as the number one placement gets all the clicks? Or that spammers would be able to click-spam their way to the top?

First of all, let me state my source for this statement:

Danny Sullivan’s Twitter Status


What exactly does this mean for SEO?

To start us off, Gary Moyle, Head of SEO at NetBooster, created a whitepaper on rankings and clicks that showed how many more clicks you get for each increased ranking. You can download his white paper “One click curve to rule them all” from our website. The white paper provides insight into what positions are valuable and where you might actually run into a few dips in traffic, even though you’ve gained positions. However, Gary’s curve is a statistical one and there are still ways for a lower position to get more clicks than a higher one. The trick is to create a snippet that is better than all the others, especially the one directly above your placement. For those of you who don’t have a bag of tricks to craft good snippets, I’ll give you few here:

  1. The almighty rich snippet tool – this tool lets you know what special snippets Google’s currently running. My favourite was taken away a while back; it was the author snippet, where I got to show my face or avatar directly in the search result (a real ego boost). But check out the examples supplied by Google!

  2. Schema.org – If you find a good match for a snippet, you’ll need to visit schema.org in order to look-up the schema needed. Remember that the snippet has to match the content of the page; you can’t fool Google. One thing all websites can do is implement a better presentation of their URLs in the search results. Basically, schema.org offers information on how-to insert more data into the HTML-code, in a way that allows search engines to read it.

  3. SEOmofo snippet optimizer – This great tool lets you write the title and description of a page and see if you’re within the pixel limits of the snippet. You want to make sure the snippet isn’t cut short because you’ve inserted too much text, for example.

  4. Google Webmaster Tool– Using this tool, you can view your actual click-through-rate (CTR) for a specific page or query. You can also check the CTR for the page you’re optimising and test different titles and descriptions. I usually find that short, and concise, titles and full-length descriptions work best. Try to target the query very specifically, and make sure the user understands the page.

What about spamming and manipulation?

Organic clicks are used as a divider. If the pages are close in value, and one snippet is attracting more clicks, that page will gain a position over the other one. This means you can’t start generating lots of clicks to your site, and bring it up from a position, if it’s further down in the search results. Also Google won’t be deceived, they will use statistics and control groups to make sure the clicks are genuine.

So really, the statement that clicks affect the rankings doesn’t really change much, but it does highlights the importance of spending time crafting good snippets.

Posted by Jimmy Wirsborg (SEO Manager)