I knew that I had written the best post on the subject. It was more comprehensive than anything else out there and clearly written. It should have performed brilliantly, but I wasn’t getting the expected traffic. After I changed the post's name click throughs from Google doubled overnight. Find out what I did and why it worked below.

A screenshot of the backend of a blog and the field to add blog title. Image from Canva pro stock images
Why changing the name of a blog post can increase click throughs from Google

How To Get More People To Click Through from Search Results (Without ADs)

The near instant results from the name change was on a post that Google recognised as useful and was already ranking on the first page of search results, but other less useful posts had ranked higher than mine. Why was this and why had I been getting less click throughs then expected?

Google uses lots of complicated factors to decide on the order webpages are shown in search results, but a lot of it is obvious when you think about it. My post was a "things to do in x" type posts and several other websites had currently written on a similar theme for the same location. We had all updated our content to the current year, but mine had a lot more content. However the 2 websites ranking higher than me were both niche sites. While their post that ranked above mine wasn’t as good, their websites on the whole were more relevant to the search query. 

Having a niche website helps Google to see you as an expert, but if your website name is related to the search query the person visiting Google is likely to think you are an expert too. All 3 of us had very similar post titles so it's no surprise given the information available that they were getting clicked on before me.  How was a potential visitor to know that my post was more useful and comprehensive?

How visitors decide which search result to click on:

When people perform a search they want to get their answer as quickly as possible. Google knows this so it now tries to provide the answer directly in the search results. Luckily a lot of what we write about is too complex for such a quick answer so people will still click through to websites. Normally people will click on the first post in the search results which they think will answer their search query.

To help make the decision they can see: 

  • the post name, 
  • the website name, 
  • a short description, 
  • and sometimes the date it was published and a photo. 

The description comes from the post meta description, but often Google shares an excerpt from the post that it thinks is useful instead and there isn't much you can do about that. So the real opportunity we have to encourage people to visit our site is with a good post title. You need to let people know in that title why your post is amazing and they should read it.

How To Make Your Blog Post Title More Clickable

In my example I simply added a number to say how many entries were in my post (which was over 70). I made the change in the morning and by that evening the number of views had doubled compared to the previous day and the same day the previous week. This was a seasonal, location based post that already ranked well which is why the improvement was so quick. A better title gave people a reason to visit my post over the other search results.

If your post isn’t already ranking well  (eg it's not on the first page or two of search results) then you won’t see improvements as quickly. It might also mean that the post needs to be rewritten, updated, or the SEO improved to help it rank better. Improving the title of the post will still encourage people to click through though if they find it on search results or when the post is shared on social media so it's worth doing. 

What Makes a Good Post Title?

If you are just sharing on social media then a click bait title might work, you know the type I'm sure. I know my Facebook feed is full of them and I often succumb to clicking on: "I can't believe she just did that" or "wow, look how quick the transformation was".  If you want to perform well on search results though you need your title to clearly describe what your post is about and encourage potential readers to click through while keeping the word count low.

Use your keywords

The title should tell people what the post is about so you need to include your keywords. If your post is about gifts for teachers then it should include the words "gifts" and "teachers" or a variation on those words. 

Use good grammar and spelling

If your post title isn’t readable due to poor use of language then people are likely to suspect your post will be as well.

Keep it as short as possible

You want to be as concise as possible while still being useful. A good guide is 60 characters or less. If the title is too long it's cut off in search results anyway. 

Make it stand out (in the right way)

Use a title modifier or long tail keyword to make your post stand out. If it’s a list type post then put a number in it. Some people suggest searching to see any numbers in other post titles and adding at least one more eg if your post is on gifts for teachers and they are all 10, 15, 20 ideas, you aim for 21. This only works though if having more is actually helpful. Sometimes 10 suggestions is all you need. If there are lots of post's with numbers in try adding a relevant long tail keyword or modifier like “useful”, “handmade”, “budget”, "exciting" etc which will help make your post look different to the rest. 

How Do You Know If People Are Clicking Through To Your Post? 

When it comes to performance on search engines like Google how do you know if people are being shown your post in search results and not clicking through or if they aren't seeing your post at all? Google Search Console has the answers. 

Is It Indexed?

The first thing to check is that your post is definitely indexed. If you are already getting traffic to that post from Google then you can be confident it is, but if you aren't sure (or you aren't able to identify where the traffic is coming from) then add the URL of the post in the search box at the top of Google Search Console which says "Inspect any URL in (your website name)". It will have a brief think and let you know if it is indexed, which basically means visible to the search engine. If it isn't indexed and you published it more than a week ago then you can click on where it says "Request Indexing". Posts should get indexed automatically, but sometimes it doesn't happen (especially on newer sites).

There is no set amount of time that Google takes to index posts, but if you are publishing new content frequently you will probably find your content is indexed the same day. Some people choose to request indexing on all their posts as soon as they publish, but this really shouldn't be necessary.

Is The Post Being Seen?

In Google Search Console go to the Search Results page. It normally shows the total clicks and impressions, but if you click Average CTR (Click Through Rate) and Average Position above the graph you can use the 4 columns in the table to give you some really interesting information.

If you are interested in a particular post then add "page" to the search criteria (above the graph) with some words in the URL of the post you are interested in.  Otherwise just leave the criteria to "search type: web" and whatever time period you are interested in.

To find the posts which might benefit most from a title makeover filter the table by impressions (click on “Impressions” in the table to do this). What you are looking for are any queries which have a large number of impressions and a low number of clicks, especially where your position is 1 to 20. This tells you that you are showing up for that query, but people aren’t clicking on you. 

The 2 main reasons you won’t get clicked on are:

  • There is a better looking result further up, so they go to that first.
  • Your post doesn’t meet their search intent. If this is the case then changing the title is unlikely to make a difference. 
For example in my results I have lots of impressions for various products I have reviewed. Sometimes people wont click on my result because they don’t want a review, they want to buy the product so they have clicked on a shop instead. Improving my title might catch their eye and encourage a few to click through, but most just want to buy. 

Think about it: if you know you want to buy a Kindle and you are looking for a website that sells them you aren’t likely to click on a Kindle review because you have already made your decision to buy. A post called something like “Stop! Don’t buy your new Kindle until you read this” might catch their eye, but most wont be interested. 

If when looking down the queries with high impressions and low CTR you see a query that you know your post answers well then look at it's current title. Can it be improved? Updating your title won’t change your URL so it won’t impact links to your post, it’s purely what will show on the post and in search results. 

If you go to incognito mode or private mode on your web browser you can see which other sites show up for the query. Using incognito mode and no cookies should be you see a standard search result rather than one tailored to your previous search history. Look at which posts appear above you (ignoring the sponsored results) and see if you can make your post sound more useful or interesting. 

A word of warning on titles: they must reflect your post. One of the main ways Google decides how useful content is will be if (and how quickly) people return to the search results and click on other content. The reasoning being if you have to go back to the search results then the post you just read didn’t answer your query very well. If people keep clicking on your post then going back to the same search results Google will assume your content is poor quality and it will show it to less people. 

Other Ways To Be More Visible In Search Results

For now Google is by far the most used search engine. They keep making changes to the appearance of search results to ensure they remain popular. Featured snippets are one way they try and help answer people's queries faster. You can increase the likelihood of having rich and featured snippets of your post by using schema markup. Sometimes just having a useful bullet point list is enough for Google to feature your post. 

The other way you can make more people click through to your posts from Google is by optimising your images. Images and photos often appear at the top of search results, before even the sponsored results so if your image is featured there then you increase the chance someone will click through to your post. To help your images rank higher: name the file to describe the image, use alt text to describe your post (and add keywords if it makes sense), use title text and caption your image. How you do this will depend on the platform, but basically use every opportunity to describe the image and Google is more likely to understand what it is about so it can show it in search results.