In case you had any doubts that CTR has a direct impact on Google rankings, feast your eyes on this Search Analytics data:
CTR Rankings SEO 2017-10-25 at 9.38.04 PM


On October 8th, a client relaunched their website and changed the title tag on one of the templates from “Keyword” to “Search”. They wanted to know why the organic traffic to those pages was tanking. It’s quite possible that Google saw the page as less relevant due to the title tag change but the Search Analytics graph for a sample query above implies that CTR suffered before rankings did. The updated page title was indexed within 24 hours of the launch. Google immediately changed the display of the title in the blue link to be less targeted. It didn’t say “Search” but it took some important context out of the displayed title. For example, if previously the displayed title was “Local SEO Pleasanton”, it now read “Pleasanton”.

Of course one should be wary of one-off anecdotes, but if you are looking for a simple way to show your clients/teams that CTR matters, feel free to cut and paste!

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14 Response Comments

  • Craig Harkins  October 29, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Is the increase in CTR at the far right linked to more changes/reversions in the title tag?

    • Andrew Shotland  October 29, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      This is where relying on GSC data can be problematic. Looking at this same chart today is showing slightly different data. My theories on why CTR/rankings may have improved at the end of the time period is either that Google was testing out the appeal of the page or that Google had updated the rankings based on its continued crawling of the new site. According to Search Analytics, that new ranking only lasted for a day and then it and CTR dropped back down.

  • Adi  October 29, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    so which good CTR impact based change title tag or not change when show in searc query. Tks for answer anyway.

    • Andrew Shotland  October 29, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      Not sure I understand the question, but my take is the the CTR was impacted because the title tag was changed.

  • Adam Davies  October 31, 2017 at 2:16 am

    I think you’re right… A tiny change, such as removing a single keyword from a title, can have a huge impact on CTR. Even indirect ranking metrics can cause rankings to become unstable if there are competitors offering what was lost!

    I’d love to see how your stats look after a few weeks 🙂

  • Mansi  November 22, 2017 at 4:44 am

    Hi Andrew, I have optimized my webpages’ title tag 15 days ago instead of upward, the stat is downward. Is it happening due to the changes as you have mentioned?

    • Andrew Shotland  November 23, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      Hi Mansi,

      Hard to say. If you share the changes you made, perhaps I can provide some advice.

  • Marc-Antoine Arbour  November 23, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Really interesting to see the direct effect between CTR and ranking position. Out of curiosity, any idea why the CTR seems to spike up toward the end of the graphic? Did you change the title again?

    • Andrew Shotland  November 23, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      I think its ranking started improving again

  • Neil Harris  December 5, 2017 at 6:17 am

    I have seen no correlation at all in my AB testing.

    • Andrew Shotland  December 5, 2017 at 8:24 am

      Most SEO tests should come with a “* Your mileage may vary” disclaimer. 🙂

  • Gary  December 7, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Hey Andrew,

    could be the Gods of Google fiddling with the settings. Short-term measurements can be so hard to call 😉


    • Andrew Shotland  December 7, 2017 at 8:05 am

      Certainly can’t make any absolute judgements but the data in GSC, now a month later, suggests the title change was not a positive development.

  • Joe Konker  December 22, 2017 at 2:51 am

    keep fighting the good fight Andrew, even though sometimes with Google, it’s like doing it with a blindfold on 🙁

    Joe K