SEO or Search Engine Optimization has slowly turned into a field of experiments. Users around the world constantly practice 'Trial and Error' methodology to enhance or optimize their websites in an effort to improve their site rankings and clickthrough rates in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Recently, I came across a post by Tim Nash, a software architect who intends to refine an experiment that is aimed at improving clickthrough rates in SERPs through optimization. Now, Tim has come out with an update as to how the experiment has faired so far and gives us in-depth details on his findings. However, the readers must keep in mind that this experiment is designed with the sole purpose of improving the rankings and in no ways is associated with higher rankings. Additionally, both the participating websites (with explicit permission from the clients, of course!) are UK based and only clickthroughs from google.co.uk and not.com were monitored for the results. Let us begin then:
'Uppercase Only' Experiment:
For this experiment, the content in the title tag was kept entirely in upper cases. As a comparison tool and to designate a definite pattern, Tim chose to use 2 websites that appeared in the same SERP and the experiment was conducted on the lower ranking website.
The slateboard depicts the statistical representation of the experiment.(See image below)
The top Blue line denotes the higher ranking website in its two weeks of upper case implementation. The Brown line represents the click through rates for the two weeks of the website with upper case. The green line depicts the previous two weeks. The clickthrough rate is 8 for the the top blue line between the 'peak' and the 'trough' of the graph.
The addition of Uppercase title wasn't as successful as it was in the previous two weeks. The website's 'peaks' and 'troughs' are also in a different pattern compared to the higher ranking website. So the conclusion is, that the website constantly under performed.
'UPPERCASE and Click Me' Experiment:
In this part of the experiment, Tim added 'Click Here' call to action button before the title and kept the entire title tag in Uppercase. The reason behind this action was the popular Internet notion that you give a 'direct call to action' button to a user and he'll follow it. Tim also took the opportunity to run an advertisement related to the product featured in the SERPs on a TV program in Canada. This initiated a chain reaction of a spike in CTR (Clickthrough Rates) in the .co.uk domain and a much larger spike in the main domain i.e .google.com.
If you compare the two images, you'll notice a spike in the Blue line (higher ranking website). The brown line is the same week as the blue one and the green line denotes the previous two weeks. According to Tim, the graph shows a 25% increase in the product related searches and clickthrough rates, but the results are still quite unimpressive.
User Opinions: To understand the experiment results through the user perspective, Tim conducted a survey that included all website visitors arriving from google.co.uk and asked them whether the experiment made any difference in their website experience. An image of the Google SERP result for the previous two weeks wass shown to the users and were requested to give their feedback, comparing the Google result with the current look of the website.
- Uppercase results – 90% users remembered clicking through the uppercase version.
- Click here results – 100% all users remembered they clicked through the click here version.
Then the users were shown a generic result and were requested to identify the factors that compelled them to visit the website:
- Uppercase results – 70% Said it was the title that had inspired them.
- Click here results – 60% Said it was the title.
Then the users were asked as which website caught their eyes first:
- Uppercase results – 50% Clicked the test site first.
- Click here results – 75% Clicked the test site first.
So, after all is said and done, the million dollar question still remains that, whether this part of the experiment yielded any positive results or not. Well, Tim Nash suggests that, so far the experiment hasn't really improved the clickthrough rates and they remain low for the websites that participated in this part of the experiment. Furthermore, the title doesn't really make much difference and on a lighter note, Britishers watch too much of Canadian TV.
The experiment is till underway and Tim Nash will be releasing more results in the coming weeks. I'll keep you all updated with the results, as this is a really interesting approach towards understanding of clickthrough rates.