Editor's note:
Thanks for visiting GA Tip of the Day. Please see current posts on the Cardinal Path blog.

Try Different Meta Descriptions to Improve Organic Clickthrough Rates

Organic clickthrough rates in Google Analyticsview at full size

An increased organic clickthrough rate, without a corresponding increase in position, probably indicates a more effective meta description.

For most Web pages listed on a search engine results page (SERP), the Web page’s approximately 160-character meta description tag is what appears directly below the page title.

The meta description is less important for the actual ranking of the page and much more important as the page synopsis and call to action that trigger the clickthrough.

Although you cannot A/B test meta descriptions in real time, since the SERP is of course beyond your direct control, you can experiment with different meta descriptions in series and monitor clickthrough rate on the Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries report. (If you have not linked your SEO data from Google Webmaster Tools to Google Analytics, you can check clickthrough data directly in your Google Webmaster Tools reports.)

An increase in organic clickthrough rate (CTR) for a specific keyword, with no increase in average position, probably indicates a more compelling meta description.

As a note, since page title is much more important than meta description in search engine ranking, it’s much riskier to experiment with page title to increase clickthrough rates.

Please share this post:
Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Email

2 thoughts on “Try Different Meta Descriptions to Improve Organic Clickthrough Rates

  1. Hi–Mary Kay here.

    Yes, you are correct, much less risk than experimenting with a title tag. I think it gets down to priority for most organizations.

    Make no mistake, this is great idea and in a perfect world, absolutely would do that especially if I were a sole proprietor or had my own company and managed its web presence.

    If we are going to spend time testing, which I am in complete favor of and believe strongly in testing, we are going to do it on our landing pages and conversion pages. I think the reality is that for most companies it comes down to priority, what resources you have and how best your time is spent.

    In my current position, I am responsible for SEO, SEM, Web Analytics and Social for over 50+ web sites a quarter over 11 different product groups. I would love to be able to do this but I am not set up for it currently. Mary Kay

  2. Mary Kay, I agree with you. If I had to test one or the other, I would test landing pages before meta descriptions (especially if you’re managing 50+ sites!!).

    It would be important to keep in mind that an landing page (not a PPC landing page, of course, but the page that the search engine has indexed organically) that is updated based on testing might not rank as well as the previous iteration. This is not in any way to say that we shouldn’t test and update landing pages; we just need to be aware of this caveat: http://gatipoftheday.com/check-seo-keywords-in-your-content-experiment-variations/

    And yes, our top priority must be prioritization, since we never have time to try out all the things that we’d like to!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>