To click or not to click, that is the question.
It is both interesting and frightening how such a simple decision can, in a high enough volume, have an existential impact on the blogger that is trying to earn some money off of his work.
There is a common misconception that great content drives traffic just by “being there“. While that may hold true for high authority sites and blogs that already have built up a stable base of regular readers, new and upcoming bloggers have another thing coming.
If you are planning to make a WordPress website or if you are already using WordPress, then you are in luck. This platform has been with us for quite some time now. That allowed it to develop a wide array of useful plugins. One of them is Yoast. You've probably all heard of it and chances are you are already using it.
The question is, are you using it to its full potential? The only way to be sure is to click and see for yourself.
Here are several tricks you can start employing right away to increase the click-through rates of your articles.
Let's be honest, from the moment you skimmed upon this topic you knew we would eventually end up here.
If you mess this part up, incoming tips will not count for much. Contents of your <title> tag have a major impact on both CTR and ranking in search results. That should be reason enough to make sure your headline writing skills are on point.
Here is where the Yoast gives you a helping hand.
Click on the Edit snippet button in the Snippet preview and start writing your title. You will notice that the line below it changes color according to your title length. Aim for green.
This may seem like a minor point at first but you need to consider that title length can, in fact, have an impact on CTR.
Outbrain, a content discovery platform, crawled trough 150 000 article headlines and one of their findings was that the titles consisting of 8 words received 21% higher click-through rate than average. That is a percentage that shouldn't be discarded lightly.
If you need further help with your title optimization there is one more plugin worth mentioning. It is called YoRocket. It actually works great with Yoast and is pretty easy to use.
You just write the title and let the plugin improve upon it. It also allows you to split test multiple titles to see which one attracts the most clicks. The only downside is that you will have to part ways with $40/month.
If you really struggle with your titles, this may be an option worth checking out.
Meta Description Optimization
The description is an ideal place to entice people to click on your post. It's an additional opportunity to grab attention. Use it wisely.
You don't have to take my word for it, here is what Neil Patel wrote in one of his posts:
It should provide a clear, well-written and interest-piquing description for your headline and for the content itself. Think of it as writing subtle ad copy, you want to pique interest and arouse the desire for clicks.
To add Meta description you have to go back to Edit snippet button. The length of your description should be around 150 characters. Don't worry, you don't have to count every word. Yoast does that for you. Just follow the bar below the description box. When it turns green, it means your word count has hit the sweet spot.
If you don't use Yoast or if you didn't bother to make a personalized description, you will probably have the so-called „automated description“. WordPress will use the first sentence of your post as a description. And this is rarely what you want if you want to maximize your rankings and click trough rates.
If you ever came across a snippet featuring a description that doesn't make any sense, well, now you know the reason behind it.
Adding Publishing Dates
Let's say you are searching for the policy on medical marijuana use in your state. You find 3 relevant articles in the first 4 results. Then you notice that one of them doesn't have a publishing date, one is from 2014 and the last one is from December 2016.
There's a pretty good chance you're first going to click on the latter one.
Of course, not every subject is as time sensitive as this one but people do have an innate desire to look at the newest information available to them.
Adding publishing dates to your articles is really simple. Go to the Yoast settings and click on Titles & Meta's. After that, navigate to the Post Types tab and select Show under the Date in Snippet Preview.
If you encounter any trouble, refer to the pictures below.
When you select the Show button, don't forget to scroll all the way down to the end of the page and Save changes!
Before we move on, there is one important thing left to discuss here.
If you are not careful, adding the publishing date for your articles can be a double-edged sword. It should have a positive impact on your recently published articles and time sensitive topics but it can actually have a negative impact on your older articles.
To combat this problem, you can reset publishing dates by simply updating the article. You can do that for every article you ever published but don't abuse it. I would recommend doing it mostly on the ones where you can actually add new content and for the posts that are time sensitive since they are going to see the most benefits from it.
Bulk Editing Snippets
You may think to yourself by now
This is all great and dandy but I don't have time to go back to every post I published to make these changes.
Don't worry, Yoast has got your back.
To edit snippets in a bulk go to Yoast, select Tools and click on the Bulk editor.
Now, you should be able to see all of your posts in a list. What is so convenient about this bulk editor is that it allows you to edit your titles and meta descriptions in one window. It also has a number of filtering and sorting options so you will be able to quickly navigate to any of your posts when you get the hang of it.
If you plan to apply some of these changes to multiple posts, this will save you an enormous amount of time.
The only drawback of this approach is that you don't have that „length bar line“ so you need to pay proper attention to the length of your titles and descriptions.
Before we wrap this up I'd like to mention featured snippets.
This isn't directly connected to Yoast but since we focused so much on the snippet in this article it would be a shame not to mention it.
You have all probably came across it at some point during your googling efforts. It looks something like this.
Whose page is chosen and what part of your post/page shows up is decided entirely by Google.The neat thing is, is that all answers from the first page results are eligible to be featured in this snippet.
Here is a further read if you want to found out how to please the Big G and increase your chances of being selected.
There is no magic button that can skyrocket the number of your page visitors. If there was one, everyone would be using it and we would quickly end up where we started.
Always have in mind that the snippets are the only information on which a reader evaluates his „clicking“ options. Taking that into account, you should always make it as appealing as possible.
In the end, the only way to make money is to have visitors. And it would be a shame to lose them by skipping these simple tweaks that can be easily incorporated in your article posting routine.
Coty Lance is a webmaster with 10+ years of experience in setting up and running successful websites. As the editor of Hosting Manual, he is helping out both new and seasoned webmasters. Being a WordPress advocate, he advised thousands of people how to jumpstart their online journey.