11 Simple Ways To Increase Click-Through Rates (In SEO) By Enhancing Snippets To Stand Out In Google’s Search Results

Search engine snippets are the forefront of your SEO.

Anything you can do to make them stand out will increase click-through rates and get you more SEO traffic. There are plenty of ways to enhance them (some less obvious than others).

I will show you how to get featured in Google’s Answer Box (featured snippets), add rich snippets, AMP Pages, and display your blog post’s publish date to make content look newer. You should follow all 11 steps if you want to significantly increase click-through rates, which can be measured in Google Search Console’s search analytics and for finding low CTR content.

Google uses click-through rates (CTR) as a ranking factor so this can also improve your actual rankings. There have been numerous studies supporting this. I highly recommend identifying lower performing CTR content and rewriting your SEO titles + meta descriptions in Yoast’s bulk editor, which is step 1. Comment if you have questions – it’s worth the time doing this!

A snapshot of just a few things I’ll cover…

Click-through Rates

 

1. Identify Low CTR Content

Go to Google Search Console’s Search Analytics report and turn on the CTR filter. Look for pages with a high position (ranking) but low CTR – this means even though a page ranks high, nobody is clicking your snippet. Improving these snippets can easily result in more traffic. If you recently setup Search Console (using Yoast), wait a few weeks so you have enough data.

Click-Through-Rates-Search-Console

HTML Improvements
You can also use Google Search Console’s HTML Improvements to find SEO titles + meta descriptions that are too short, long, and whether you have duplicates. Be sure to fix these.

HTML-Improvements

Why Aren’t People Clicking?

  • Does the page/post rank high?
  • Does your content match their query?
  • Is your content better than the top results?
  • Does the post show an outdated publish date?
  • Does your Yoast SEO title entice people to click?
  • Does your Yoast meta description entice people to click?
  • Can you add rich snippets to show extra information like review stars?

 

2. Improve SEO Titles/Meta Descriptions In Yoast’s Bulk Editor

Go to Yoast > SEO > Tools > Bulk Editor. Here you can bulk edit SEO titles + meta descriptions without going through each individual page. Rewriting these to sound nicer is literally one of the easiest ways to increase CTRs. You can also fix HTML improvements here (from Search Console). The bulk editor doesn’t show the page’s focus keyword or have the “length bar” that tells you whether your SEO title/meta description is too short or long… so keep that in mind.

Yoast Bulk Editor

 

3. Craft The Perfect SEO Title (In Yoast)

Here’s how I write most headlines…

  1. Research 1 primary keyword
  2. Research 1 secondary keyword
  3. Craft a headline that includes elements of both, and stills sounds good
  4. Google your keyword and mention what makes your content different

I wanted to rank for keywords related to “WordPress Theme Packs” since people who search this are probably willing to drop $400, and as an affiliate I would get about $125 from the sale.

Step 1: Research a primary keyword…

Secondary Keywords

Step 2: Research a secondary keyword which be close to your primary (a synonym)…

Secondary Focus Keyword

Step 3: Craft a headline that includes both but still sounds nice. You do NOT always have to include both keywords as exact matches otherwise you will find yourself turning your headline into a keyword list which looks spammy and results in a low CTR. Try using partial matches…

Headline

Good Headline > Keywords – you do not always have to target 2 keywords… sometimes targeting 1 keyword and writing a creative headline is the better option. The main thing is to Google your keyword and ask why people should click on YOUR link and not everyone else’s. Can you include the fact that you have a video, infographic, or tons of people used your guide?

Some of my highest CTR snippets…

High-Click-Through-Rate-Snippet

Notice how my headline for my W3 Total Cache includes 2018 (because people are looking for the most recent plugin settings, AND because “W3 Total Cache Settings 2018” is a keyword that shows up in Google Autocomplete) and how it’s been used by over 100,000 people? I changed that just recently and that post now has 57% CTR!

Click-Through-Rates

This is called a featured snippet which I’ll cover in step 9

High-CTR-Featured-Snippet

High-CTR-Snippet

High-CTR-Page-Google-Snippet

High-CTR-Search-Engine-Snippet

 

4. Craft The Perfect Meta Description

This is your chance to tell people WHY they should click on your link and no one else’s. Here I say I have a pre-configured zip of my Yoast settings which they can import to their site. Small things like this help. You can edit meta descriptions in Yoast’s snippet editor or the bulk editor.

Yoast Meta Descriptions

Tips On Writing Meta Descriptions

  • Entice people to click on your link (situational to the topic)
  • Include your keyword, and ideally a partial match of a secondary keyword
  • Length should be between 150-160 characters (bar in Yoast should be green)

 

5. Include Dates In Your Snippets

By including a date (year) in the SEO title + meta description of time sensitive articles, you can rank higher for date keywords and increase CTR because people see your tutorial is current.

First, learn if people are searching date keywords…

Time Sensitive Keywords

Then include the date (year) in your SEO title + meta description…

Dates In SEO Titles

 

6. Add Rich Snippets

You’ve probably seen these for reviews, recipes, and other supported data types

Structured Data Review Stars

There are 3 primary ways to do this:

I use WP Rich Snippets when writing reviews, here’s an example of how they look…

wp-rich-snippets-for-wordpress

You can see a side-by-side comparison of WP Rich Snippets vs. All In One Schema on my WordPress rich snippets tutorial but I would definitely use WP Rich Snippets if you have an affiliate or recipe site where they’re a key part of your SEO. You can see my SiteGround GrowBig review to see a preview of WP Rich Snippets which includes more settings, markup options, and tons of add-ons (this and the nicer design are the main benefits of this plugin).

 

7. Add Publish Dates To Blog Posts

Adding dates to snippets makes your content look new and increases click-through rates…

Publish Date

In your Yoast settings enable ‘date in snippet preview’ under SEO > Search Appearance > Content Types. I only have this enabled for posts since are more time sensitive than pages.

Date In Snippet Preview

Now find the entry meta section of your blog (the part that shows up on the very top of posts) which for me is in the Genesis Simple Edits settings. You’ll want to add post modified date…

Entry Meta

This is what it looks like…

Entry Post Modified Date

Republish Content To Look New – now that dates are in your snippets, you can reset publish dates to current day by editing a post and clicking the update button. Yes, you can go through ALL posts and keep doing this. Just don’t abuse it, I try to only do it when I’m making an update.

Update WordPress Post

 

8. Add AMP Pages

AMP (accelerated mobile pages) are a Google project that make your mobile pages load faster while adding that nice AMP stamp next to your mobile snippets. This will not only increase click-through rates but will also improve mobile speed and potentially your SEO / conversions. Adding AMP Pages effects the design of your mobile site so I suggest trying it out, and if you don’t like it you can uninstall the plugins and revert back to your old, non-AMP mobile pages.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Yoast AMP

Adding AMP Pages In WordPress

  • Install the AMP plugin (adds the actual AMP pages)
  • Install the Glue For Yoast & AMP (lets you customize the design)
  • Add /amp/ to any page to see how it looks and make sure it works
  • Go to Yoast’s Settings → AMP to change your design and enable custom post types
  • Be sure the tweak your featured image on the top of your pages (see Yoast’s tutorial)

Fixing AMP Errors
Make sure you don’t have AMP errors in Search Console or your AMP stamp won’t show up on these pages. Errors are usually caused by older plugins that are not AMP compatible, for example, AMP doesn’t support JavaScript – so plugins that inject script tags will cause errors.

Accelerated Mobile Pages Google Search Console

 

If you have content that quickly answers a question in paragraph, list, or table format, Google might reward you with a featured snippet. Google ultimately decides who and what shows up in the featured snippet but they will pull an answer from ANY 1st page result. You can influence this by targeting ‘question keywords’ and creating accurate, authority, structured content that is organized with a table of contents and subheadings as described in step 10.

Featured Snippets

If you want these snippets I would DEFINITELY watch Rand Fishkin’s video…

There Are 3 Types Of Featured Snippets:

  • Paragraphs (about 63% of answers)
  • Lists (about 19% of answers)
  • Tables (about 16% of answers)

Tips For Getting Featured Snippets:

  • Target queries that already have an answer box (but do a poor job)
  • Identify question keywords (Keyword Explorer has an answers filter)
  • Be literal with your keywords (eg. use an exact keyword match in your title)
  • You must be on the 1st page of Google to show up in the answers box
  • Make sure your content is as accurate as possible with references/links
  • About 15% of queries have an answer box, there are plenty of opportunities

 

Jump To Links

Once again, Google ultimately determines who gets these. The best thing you can do is create long, structured content with a table of contents, anchored subheadings, and organize your post in a logical way according to the topic. When I say long content (or “authority content”) I mean a solid article usually with 3,000+ words, accurately referenced with links.

Google says this is how you get them…

… ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name (i.e., not just “Section 2.1”), and that your page includes a “table of contents” which links to the individual anchors… you won’t see it on the results all the time — only when we think that a link to a section would be highly useful for a particular query.

How To Create A Table Of Contents With Anchored Subheadings
Table Of Contents HTML looks like this…
<ul>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink/#item-one”>Item One</a></li>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink/#item-two”>Item Two</a></li>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink/#item-three”>Item Three</a></li>
</ul>

Each subheading’s HTML should look like this…
<h3 id=”item-one”>Subheading One</h3>
<h3 id=”item-two”>Subheading Two</h3>
<h3 id=”item-three”>Subheading Three</h3>

You should ALWAYS include a TOC when creating longer content.

 

11. Use Descriptive URLs

If your permalinks have this format: http://www.sample.com/?p=123 then you need should change these to be more SEO-friendly. They’re ugly, bad for SEO, and cause low click-through rates. I recommend using the “post name” format in WordPress under Settings > Permalinks…

Post Name Permalink Settings

 

A Few Words From Rand Fishkin About CTRs And SEO

A great video from Rand Fishkin on queries and CTR (best to start at 1:45)…

Video Summary

  • Google uses “average time on site” and “bounce rate” as a ranking factor
  • Attaching a keyword to your brand (StudioPress Genesis Themes) increases rankings
  • Target keywords that bring people who will likely spend a lot of time on your website

I put 110% into these tutorials so I hope you find it helpful. If you have any questions, thoughts, or need help with your click-through rates or SEO, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to help out.

Cheers,
Tom

WP Rich Snippets Review: I Used To Love This Plugin But The Developer Abandoned It And It’s Not Compatible With PHP 7.1+

Deciding whether to buy the WP Rich Snippets Plugin?

It’s what I use to add rich snippets to my WordPress posts. I was originally going to settle for All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets but WP Rich Snippets has way more functionality (especially with their add-ons and robust plugin settings), plus the actual design is awesome.

What are rich snippets anyway? They add extra information to your search engine snippets like review stars, videos, or even recipe information. This gets more people clicking on your snippets and visiting your site. I mean come on, which result would you rather click on?

rich-snippets

I wrote this WP Rich Snippets review to show you how it compares to plugins like All In One Schema, how to configure the WP Rich Snippet settings, add rich snippets to posts, and how to use their add-ons to make your markup look even better. When we’re done, you will know how to create beautiful rich snippets that improve click-through rates and increases conversions.

UPDATE
The WP Rich Snippets developer is missing and hasn’t updated the plugin for 2+ years, causing it not to work with PHP 7.1 and higher. I switched rich snippets plugins to WP Review by MyThemeShop and like it much better, as it comes with multiple pre-styled templates, supports all data types, and comes with updates + support. It’s easy to use and has tons of customization options that help you style it to the design you want.

Table Of Contents

  1. Supported Data Types
  2. How The Markup Looks
  3. Installation
  4. Configuring The Settings
  5. Writing Your First Rich Snippet Post
  6. Google Structured Data Testing Tool
  7. Add-Ons

 

1. Supported Data Types

To add rich snippets to WordPress, your content must be one of these supported data typesEvents are the only data type not supported by WP Rich Snippets (in which case you would use the All In One Schema.org Plugin), otherwise WP Rich Snippets will do the job.

  • Articles
  • Recipes
  • Reviews
  • Products
  • Organizations
  • Restaurants
  • Software Application

 

2. How The Markup Looks (On The Actual Post)

A single screenshot won’t justify the amount of flexibility this plugin has, but I did include a couple below. The design depends on the data type you use (eg. review), how you configure the plugin settings, which add-ons you use, and what fields you fill out when marking up the post.

This example showcases a review rich snippet with a video, 4 criteria items, plus the basic (mandatory) fields. You have the option to replace the video with a photo, slideshow, or use no photo at all. With the add-ons you can also customize colors, place the markup anywhere on the page (not just the top), add user reviews, and use multiple call-to-actions buttons (instead of just 1). I recommend at least buying the customizer add-on for $29 (or getting the WP Rich Snippets ultimate plan) so you can incorporate your branding. Here’s what it looks like…

wp-rich-snippets-content-markup

You can also add an image, video, slider, pros and cons, pricing, and other elements. I just like to keep it simple. You will be adding this to the top or bottom of each post you want to markup, or use their box shortcode add-on to add this anywhere in the middle of your posts.

Here’s another example of how it might look at the END of a post…

wp-rich-snippets-for-wordpress

Now compare it to how the All In One Schema.org Plugin looks…

All In One Schema Rich Snippets Markup

I will show you how to markup posts later in this review, but here’s the gist of it:

wp-rich-snippets-plugin

 

3. Installing WP Rich Snippets

The next part of this WP Rich Snippets review will show you how to install the plugin with your license key, configure the settings, then we will start adding rich snippets to pages or posts.

Instructions:

  • Purchase the WP Rich Snippets plan that’s right for you
  • Purchase any add-ons you need (or buy the ultimate plan)
  • Visit your account page to download the plugin and add-ons
  • Upload the plugin and add-ons in WordPress under Plugins → Add New → Upload Plugin, then upload 1 download file at a time

wordpress-plugin-upload

  • In your account page, click on “view licenses”
  • Click on “manage sites” and add your site for each item

WordPress Rich Snippets Account

License Key

  • Go back to your licenses and click the key icons. Copy the “WP Rich Snippets” key and paste it to your “license” settings in your WordPress dashboard. If you’re using add-ons, you will need to download each one from your account tab, upload it to WordPress, then enter your license key for that add-on. You will see a success message.

Rich Snippets Menu

WP Rich Snippets License Key

 

 

 

4. Configuring The Settings

I found most settings are already configured optimally, but I would check the Display tab and enable “display item description below the box” and “show box below content” IF you want WP Rich Snippets to show on the bottom of posts (as oppose to top). It’s just a preference.

WordPress Rich Snippets Settings

If you’re using add-ons, you will see settings for these too…

settings-configuration

 

5. Writing Posts With WP Rich Snippets

Now for the good stuff. Go to a page or post you want to add rich snippets to. Scroll down until you see the the “Schema” section then select the type of rich snippet you want to use in the post. Start by filling in the main tab with the item you are reviewing, and a description. The fields will be different depending on which rich snippet you select. This example is for a review:

wp-rich-snippets-plugin

Details tab lets you add pros and cons (like in the bottom of my post), or a disclaimer.

wp-rich-snippets-details-tab

wp-rich-snippets-pros-cons

Price tab shows the price of the item…

price-tab

Address tab lets you add a Google Map

address-options

Hours tab are simply your business hours…

rich-snippet-hours

Display tab lets you add a featured image, video, or slider. Embedding a YouTube video makes the markup look pretty awesome and increases engagement – which is good for SEO.

Display Criteria

Link tab is where you add a link or affiliate link (which is defaulted to nofollow). If you’re not using an affiliate link, check the “dofollow links” option. The call-to-action add-on enables the “demo links” option which are use to add more than 1 button (see an example here).

Link Criteria

Criteria tab shows what you based your review off of…

Rich Snippet Criteria

wp-rich-snippets-criteria

Author tab shows your name which is required for reviews…

author-tab

 

6. Google Structured Data Testing Tool

The last step is to publish your post and run the URL through Google’s structured data testing tool. You shouldn’t see warnings as long as you have the required fields filled out. If you do, I listed some common solutions below. Keep in mind it will take time for Google to recrawl your WordPress site and show your rich snippets in search results (anywhere from 1-5 days).

Google Structured Data Testing Tool

Common Solutions

  1. For Genesis Framework, install the Schema Removal Plugin
  2. Add the data Google tells you to in their Structured Data Testing Tool
  3. Make sure your WP Rich Snippets key is validated in the settings
  4. Make sure the data is representative of the content on the page
  5. Try adding markup to a few more pages which is suggested by Google
  6. Build your domain authority (add more, better content to your site)
  7. Visit Google’s structured data policies and webmaster guidelines

 

7. Add-Ons

The WP Rich Snippet add-ons are one of the best things about this plugin. You can customize colors, enable user reviews, call to action buttons, and add the markup anywhere in your post (even the middle). The ranking table add-on is also pretty neat. There are 14 add-ons and you will need purchase these individually (though some are free), or buy the ultimate plan like I did.

WooCommerce – advanced features for your eCommerce items plus other integrations. This add-on is has not been released yet but is coming soon.

Shortcodes – add single rich snippets elements anywhere in your posts.

DataTables – very similar to the ranking table add-on (see below).

Software Specs – adds a sidebar widget to showcase your specs, just like this page.

Locations – add schema.org markup for your location and display the Google Map anywhere in your website using a shortcode.

wp-rich-snippets-location-add-on

Box Shortcode – display the entire rich snippets markup anywhere in your post, as oppose to just the top or bottom of the post.

Anonymous User Reviews – if you’re using user reviews (the front-end entry submit add-on below), this allows users to remain anonymous.

Customizer – change the color of ratings, links, buttons, pros and cons, call-to-action buttons.

wp-rich-snippets-customizer-add-on

Front-End Entry Submit – allow users to leave their own review. This is often preferred instead of a simple editor review (which can result in higher rankings since they’re more valuable). Also good if you offer courses so students and customers can review the course.

wp-rich-snippets-user-reviews

User Reviews Image – users can upload an image with their review.

Call-To-Action – adds a section to your markup with the product name, summary, pricing, and demo link(s). If you don’t want a specific item to be shown, you can disable this in the settings.

wp-rich-snippets-call-to-action

Ranking Table – create a ranking table of your reviews, recipes, or anything. I didn’t include photos in this ranking table, but you can if you like.

wp-rich-snippets-ranking-table

Display Rating – displaying a rating by filtering content and excerpts, as shown on the demo.

Compare – similar to the data and ranking table add-on but formatted in a way that helps readers compare products/services.

wp-rich-snippets-comparison-table

I hope you enjoyed my WP Rich Snippets review. If you have any questions they have tons of documentation on writing posts, add-ons, and other topics. Or just leave me a comment. I do WordPress SEO consulting for my job so I bought the ultimate plan to get the add-ons and can use it on multiple sites, but the $69/year plan is good if you’re just starting or want to test it.

Cheers,
Tom