How To Maximise SERP CTRs With Google Sitemaps & Schemas

In multinational SEO, you’re often focussed on big picture changes which will give an appreciable ranking or direct traffic return for your work.

Resolving indexing or duplication issues are usually top of the list when working with a new domain, but how can you achieve the same level of performance once the obvious SEO wins are in place?

Please step forward, often overlooked rich snippets.

Google’s promotion of semantic data has a long history, and they often prioritise new schemas before they have general uptake on the web.

The agreement with Yahoo! & Bing is the most recent example of that, and is firmly in the tradition of the agreement from 2006.

What’s The Competitive Advantage Of These Tools?

Well, we know that SERP clickthrough rates for organic results are exponentially weighted towards the top three positions from AOL’s historic blunder which revealed click data for their – Google supplied – search results in August 2006.

Here’s a summary of the top ten CTRs and their share of the total clicks.

Rank Clicks %age Clicks Actual CTR
Position #1 2,075,765 42.13% 22.97%
Position #2 586,100 11.90% 6.48%
Position #3 418,643 8.50% 4.63%
Position #4 298,532 6.06% 3.30%
Position #5 242,169 4.92% 2.68%
Position #6 199,541 4.05% 2.21%
Position #7 168,080 3.41% 1.86%
Position #8 148,489 3.01% 1.64%
Position #9 140,356 2.85% 1.55%
Position #10 147,551 2.99% 1.63%

In addition to this raw (if now somewhat elderly) data, we can also access many eye tracking studies performed on Google’s SERPs, which tend to corroberate the clickthrough data by showing high searcher attention rates to the top three ranking positions.

Google's Golden Triangle



We also see in other heatmap studies, the disruptive impact of images, or graphical icons to draw that attention away from plain text listings.

So if I, as an SEO, can only increase my organic traffic by 1.67% by improving a ranking from position 10 to position 4, what value would you give to a 2-3% improvement in CTR?

Well, it would be the same as shifting from position #4 to #2 – a not insignificant leap for high value commercial terms, especially when multiplied actross all countries operated in.

And yet we can achieve that improvement simply by drawing attention to our SERP snippet.

Using Semantic Data For Business Profit

Thanks to Google’s championing of modern web standards, we’ve long been able to indicate to Google the products we sell and the stores that stock them.

And so we can gain inclusion to Google Universal results via Google Product search and, for example, outrank eBay in France for ‘buy [product]‘ terms like ‘achat flip flops’, getting into that golden top three position at the same time.

Google France SERP

With the product image included in the product feed, we additionally draw the searcher attention down to our snippet, beating the average CTR giving us the equivalent of a position two listing. And indeed, we find this impact reflected in our analytics.

Great news! But if we were can also bring in other visual cues and optimise the snippet text itself, we can further improve our SERP CTR.

With the release of protocols, we can encode these snippets to make sure Google triggers enhanced listings for our business.

We can bring in aggregate review ratings, highlighting service quality or, if we are a retailer, the quality of the product offered.

We can trigger onebox results for timely events in the searcher’s location – great for running local outlet offers.

And we can ensure rich media content is included in Google’s video onebox,which is always prominant when triggered.

Many of these elements are triggered more frequently for websites when their Google feed lists the relevant information, in addition to the semantic markup encountered on the HTML page itself.

If you want to gain a visual edge over your competition – in any territory – then ensuring you comply to the protocols, and frequently update your feeds with the same information, will allow you to outperform your SERP ranking in terms of traffic driven to your website.

A final benefit is that having ensured you are tagging up these important elements, the search engine visitor will be confronted by a landing page with review content, rich media videos, images, PDF spec sheets and more, all of which will help better convert that visitor to a sale in any country.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Rich Snippets | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Multinational Search | | Search Engines: Outside USA | Search Marketing: Multinational


About The Author: has over twelve years web development experience & is the founder of QueryClick Search Marketing, a UK agency specialising in SEO, PPC and Conversion Rate Optimisation strategies that deliver industry-leading ROI.

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