In the article about writing amazing headlines we talked about the importance about testing headlines to see which ones work best.
Today, as a bonus, I’m gonna teach you how to use the headline split tests to get more traffic from Google search. But before I do that, here’s a small explanation on how this happens.
Content is king, but marketing is queen, and runs the household
So Google pays very close attention to how many people visit your web pages after seeing them come up in search results. This is called Click Through Rate (CTR) and is measured as a percentage.
And Google gives a LOT of weightage to this and experiments have shown that CTR can affect ranks dramatically.
… cause it doesn’t really matter how often you show up (in search results), it matters how often you get clicked on …
… so do spend some time looking at your title, looking at your URL, looking at your snippet that Google generates …”
Now if your website scores high on Google search results CTRs, Google sees that as a sign that your pages (and posts) are more valuable than Google originally thought and you will rank higher on Google (for that search term).
And this happens no matter which rank your website appears on the search results.
Google already knows that the most clicks for any search will go to the top result. Fewer go to the one below and fewer still to the one after that …
This way, Google expects a certain CTR for each rank on the results page and that’s called the Expected CTR (which can vary slightly depending upon the search performed). But for learning purposes, let’s ignore the variations …
Now, if pages (or posts) on your website get more clicks than Google’s expected CTR for that rank, Google will assume that your content matches more closely with what people are searching for and will show your pages higher in search results.
And that’s not all. The big benefit of this is:
If you manage to get higher than expected CTRs for more of your website’s pages (and posts), Google will run experiments with the rest of your pages to see if they too get higher than expected CTRs.
If they do (wohoo!), Google will give them a more permanent rank improvement 🙂
Don’t try to “game the system” by getting your friends to perform searches and click on your results. Rank gains generated by manipulating CTRs don’t last long and worse still, harm your website rankings in the long term.
Read this article carefully and apply the suggestions here to get a permanent (and legitimate) ranking increase.
So how do you make your website’s search results more clickable?
By improving your search snippet headlines and content
When we humans decide to click a search result, we do a quick scan of the results’ headline and search snippet before we decide to click it. And we are more likely to click a result which we find interesting or we think contains the information we are looking for.
We scan the snippets and click ones which we think contain the answer
Using this to your advantage, you can improve the likelihood that people will click your links.
To do this, first check the headline split test results (the ones you found out from Headline Optimizer) and use the winning variation as the headline for Google search snippet as well.
Testing headlines with Headline Optimizer
The reason behind this is that the winning headline is the one which gets the most clicks and also gets the maximum user engagement.
These headlines aren’t just good for your blog, they are also good for Google search result snippets.
You need just 2 things to make a great search results snippet:
To figure this out, first you need to really know the purpose of your post/page. Think about who it appeals to and what they can gain from visiting that page.
Now try to figure out what kind of a search term someone would use in Google if they were looking for this kind of information. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner for this. I use LongTailPro for my keyword research and use Market Samurai to figure out the level of competition for my keywords before I invest my time and effort into ranking for them.
Use your customer’s language, not your own!
You should also use a rank checking tool like ProRankTracker to check which terms your website ranks for already. This is useful because you should first and foremost optimize your Google search snippets for posts and pages which already rank best. That way, you get the maximum benefit of updating your search snippets from the minimum effort.
This is better explained in the example below.
Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first
Once you get the new headline test results for each post, update your Google search result snippet with the new headline. To update the Google snippet, I use SEO Ultimate plugin. You should also update the rest of the snippet so it matches more closely with your new headline and the search terms that it shows up for.
While it is useful to change all your Google search snippets to match the winning headlines, the best results will come from changing the headlines of the posts which already feature on the first page of Google search. If your post ranks in top 10 for more than 1 search query, then tailor your headline to match closely with the search term that ranks highest even if it is not the most searched for.
For example: Your blog post about organic fruit juices ranks number 9 for search term “health benefits of watermelons” and holds rank 7 for search term “organic fruit juice recipes”, you should change the snippet headline to more closely match the “organic fruit juice recipes” search query instead of “health benefits of watermelons”.
You should do this even if “health benefits of watermelons” is being searched for more than “organic fruit juice recipes” because you can get a higher rank (because of better CTR) for the “organic fruit juice recipes” term.
Caution: Be careful when applying this process to posts and pages where you rank 5 or higher. Save a copy of your existing search snippet before making changes. Keep a close eye on CTRs and rankings (using Google Search Console) for these posts and pages. If the changes you make don’t work out, revert to the old snippet for a couple of weeks before trying out a different snippet.
Editing search snippets with SEO Ultimate plugin
To do this follow these 2 steps:
Of course the example I have provided here isn’t too great because the search terms are too different. It’s unlikely that one of your blog posts will score first page ranks on Google for such different search terms.
But if this is the case for your website, I recommend you create another post about the health benefits of watermelons and split test the headlines for that post as well (and again follow the process mentioned in this article).
This will help you get better search engine rankings for both the terms.
Never forget ...
Once this is done, just go into Google and get your pages manually re-crawled with googlebot. Don’t depend on your sitemaps, they take too long.
Before you start changing your Google snippets, download the current data for rankings and click through rates from Google Webmaster Console and Google Analytics. Then wait for a month after changing the headlines to compare the data again.
If you see a significant increase I’d like to hear about it and use your feedback as a testimonial for this guide. If you see a significant decrease, I’d like to know so I can help you fix things. You can leave me a comment below.
I hope this article helps you in getting better rankings on search engines using your new and improved headlines. And if you haven’t already, grab your copy of the Headline Cheat Sheet now and get 50+ ready-to-use headline templates and 100+ words to communicate more powerfully.