Click-Through Rate Manipulation & Ethical SEO Alternatives

SEO is a multi-faceted marketing approach, ensuring a website is visible to search engines and consumers. A company's SEO can help its click-through rate, and a page's click-through rate can boost the authority of a webpage, making the two variables codependent.

SEO CTR shows Google and other search engines the value of a page, so this can sometimes lead to click-through rate manipulation. This means web admins and digital marketers can influence results.

What Is SEO CTR?

CTR or click-through rate is a calculation that symbolizes the number of internet users who see a free or paid search result and click on it. The rate is a fair gauge for determining the effectiveness of a keyword and marketing campaign.

To figure out a CTR, a company takes the number of clicks an ad or result receives and divides it by the number of impressions — how many times a link appears in the search engine. For example, if a web page has 100 impressions with 10 clicks, it has a CTR of 10%.

Each webpage, advertisement, or listing has its own CTR. A higher CTR shows Google or other search engines that a page applies to a specific term or user question, which may place the listing higher in the search engine results pages.

However, page rank involves more than just CTR. Search engines will also analyze user behavior once they click on an ad or result to determine the relevance and authority of the page.

SEO CTR is a fair indicator of a campaign's success, but it can also help businesses understand where campaigns can improve. The primary contributor to CTR and page results is relevance. Keywords, information, brand listings, and other ads must remain faithful to the company, the keywords, and the page information. Otherwise, businesses risk page authority and website trust.

What Is CTR SEO Manipulation?

Despite the various techniques and methodologies for improving SEO and page ranks, the race to the first position is competitive. Most companies focus on practiced and valued techniques like link-building and improving on-page SEO. Other businesses use less favorable and more controversial methods, including CTR manipulation.

Click-through rate manipulation involves tricking search engines into believing that websites, pages, and content are more popular than they are. A company can manipulate the CTR of a page by using automated software like CTR traffic bots or click bots.

The bots locate a specific page within search engine results for a keyword or phrase and visit the site. Once on the site, the bots send user signals and mimic user behaviors, effectively tricking search engines and manipulating data. A business can also manipulate CTR in more acceptable ways without the use of bots.

Paid Ads as Manipulation

Suppose a company is more concerned with driving traffic to a website than organic listings in search engines. In that case, it can improve its CTR by using Google or Microsoft Ads. Using paid advertising or pay-per-click advertising is expensive, depending on the keywords a company is targeting. Still, it drives targeted users to inner landing pages quicker and more effectively than organic page ranks.

That said, PPC advertising is costly — the average cost of PPC ads for businesses is over $100,000 annually. Also, the expense can get away from teams if they are not vigilant about watching and calculating daily averages. If a business wants to use PPC without breaking the bank, it is better to hire a company familiar with ethical SEO click-through rate manipulation tactics.

A professional digital marketing company can help a business boost site traffic and sales conversions. When companies manage PPC campaigns well, they can earn an estimated return of $2 for every $1 spent.

Email Marketing as Manipulation

email marketing as manipulation

A business can increase traffic to specific content and pages within its website or blog by using email marketing. For example, by allowing consumers to sign up for weekly or monthly newsletters, a business gets permission to send customers emails with several links to specific pages.

An innovative business will correspond links in a newsletter to newer or poor-performing pages to help give them a traffic boost. Increased site traffic can boost search rankings because the search engines recognize an interest in the page.

For mobile users who use push notifications, email marketing is often more effective and results in more traffic because the notifications draw more user attention.

Automated bots might get a web admin or marketer penalized by Google and other search engines, but email marketing is a more acceptable form of SEO CTR manipulation and is more lucrative. Experts suggest the average return on investment for email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent.

Still, businesses must use care when developing email campaigns, ensuring newsletters, pages, and other connected information all relate. Sending consumers to irrelevant pages will only damage a company's reputation among consumers and search engines.

Social Media as Manipulation

Another acceptable form of CTR manipulation is the use of social media. With nearly 4 billion social media users, a business cannot afford to ignore social marketing. A company can increase CTR, boost site or page traffic, and improve visibility in search engines through a combination of organic and paid social media posts.

Companies can use social media and email marketing together, allowing for even more reach and traffic. Every time a business posts something of value to its social media, it can send out an email notice to all its subscribers.

On platforms like Facebook, where organic business traffic is almost nonexistent currently, tying email to social media is an effective way to capitalize on the free offerings of such sites.

Even if more views do not improve organic listings within a social media platform, they can improve website traffic and user engagement, meaning SEO CTR improves within search engines.

Does Manipulation of CTR in SEO Work?

Click-through rate manipulation is a black hat SEO technique; it is unethical and a type of click fraud. Even if a company does not use bots, instead favoring real people, it is still fraudulent and shady and potentially raises further moral questions.

Businesses that hire people instead of using bots usually hire financially struggling individuals from poor countries and communities, people willing to complete monotonous and menial work for low pay. However, because real people are completing the tasks, a company is less likely to get caught and penalized by search engines.

As far as whether CTR manipulation works, the jury is still out. Some people who use the technique claim it is successful, but other digital marketing professionals disagree.

How Can Businesses Succeed Without CTR Manipulation

how businesses can succeed with out ctr manipulation

A company can succeed without resorting to unethical practices to boost its SEO CTR. Digital marketing experts suggest several things companies can do to improve their organic CTR.

1. Fix Keyword Cannibalization Issues

Keyword cannibalization refers to the common issue of several landing pages revolving around the same core keywords. When a company optimizes multiple pages for the same keywords, it spreads out organic clicks, potentially hurting its rankings and CTR results.

Businesses need to perform regular deep dives into their websites to ensure they do not have multiple pages dedicated to the same keyword or keyword set. Focus on optimizing one page for a specific keyword or keywords.

Not only does keyword cannibalization mess with a company's CTR, but it also squanders its crawl budget — the number of times search engine spiders crawl a website during a specific window. Crawl budgets are primarily a concern for larger enterprises like eCommerce sites. Small businesses or smaller websites rarely have to worry about their budgets.

A professional marketing firm can help a company determine the best use of its digital assets and help with SEO CTR. The firm can also help a business determine the best process for targeting specific keywords, long-tail and otherwise.

2. Improve Titles

Titles are among the most important features of content. A title should inform the reader and explain what they stand to gain from reading a piece or visiting a site. A company should avoid heavy or overly academic titles, favoring simplicity over anything else.

However, businesses need to consider their clientele. For example, a B2B business can use industry language that might seem more academic or technical because it communicates with a like-minded crowd.

A business can use several techniques to improve its website and content titles. Some of the methods include:

  • Using brackets and numbered lists.
  • Using numbers
  • A/B Testing

According to a study by HubSpot, using brackets in headings improved the click-through rate of the content by 40%. Also, further research suggests that using numbers in titles and providing numbered lists in content can improve the SEO CTR by 36%

3. Use Descriptive URLs

A descriptive URL is both visually appealing and direct; it provides site visitors with a clear understanding of what is on the page they click on. While some companies still stick to URLs with indecipherable numbers and symbols, clear and direct links encourage clicks. A link like will probably receive more attention and clicks than

Beyond the link's text, a company should ensure that all new pages have a cohesive URL structure to the rest of the website. Failing to structure URLs for SEO can cause problems when search engines attempt to crawl the site.

A digital marketing firm can help businesses optimize their web pages, ensuring they maintain compliance with existing best practices. Companies that maintain their web pages usually experience a more significant SEO CTR than those that fail to stay on top of the latest changes. Business owners need to learn to delegate or outsource tech tasks they may not understand so their business doesn't struggle.

4. Optimize Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are short snippets that summarize the information on a corresponding page. The concise descriptions represent an opportunity to convince readers that a company's page has the answers or information they want.

The length of a meta description varies based on the device. For example, a desktop has a meta limit of 920 pixels or about 160 characters, and a mobile device's limit is around 680 pixels or 120 characters. Staying within these limits ensures a company's description is entirely visible to internet users.

When writing a meta description, a company should avoid stuffing too many keywords into the 160-character limit. Also, it shouldn't copy and paste existing page content. Finally, it should not copy the description for multiple pages or posts. The best practices for writing a meta description include:

  • Using action-oriented language.
  • Avoiding deception
  • Using specifics
  • Providing a solution
  • Sticking to character limits.

5. Use Structured Markup

For a high SEO CTR, a company may want to focus on micro-data or structured markups. Top search engines — Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Yandex — started collaborating in 2011 on ways to create rich snippets; the result is, a collaborative community with a mission for creating, promoting, and maintaining schemas for structured data. has many schema types. Some of the most popular types include:

  • Article
  • Video
  • FAQ
  • Local Business
  • Organization

While no evidence using structured markup will influence organic search listings or rankings, rich snippets improve visibility and CTR. Small businesses that wish to use micro-data may want to hire a digital marketing agency or another SEO or web development professional.

6. Focus on Featured Snippets

why focus on featured snippets

When internet users type a query into a search engine, the results will often display featured snippets or rich search results in a box of content. The snippets are fields of concise information relevant to the initial query. They are usually situated at the top of the results page, beneath the paid ads and above the organic listings.

A HubSpot study found that SEO CTR went up by over 114% on content appearing in the featured snippets section of the SERPs. Businesses wishing to improve their organic CTR should structure content to mimic existing snippets.

For example, if featured snippets for a specific keyword follow a listicle format, a business should create content in that style. There are several styles of featured snippets, but the two most popular include:

  • Paragraph-formatted: Nearly 50% of all featured snippets are in paragraph form. As the most common snippet, businesses should try to address queries within the initial paragraph of content.
  • Bulleted or numbered lists: Comprising 37% of all snippets, lists are the next most common form. These snippets are popular for step-by-step, process-driven, or listicle content.

A business can also improve its odds by using other snippet methods. Marketing experts also suggest trying:

  • Videos
  • Tables
  • Accordions
  • Rich answers
  • Calculators or tools

7. Improve Load Times

If a company wants to maximize its SEO CTR, it needs to consider page load times. If a user clicks on a link in the SERPs but they do not connect to the site before going back to the results, the initial click may not count. The longer a page takes to load, the more likely people will abandon the site.

If a page takes over five seconds to load, there is a 90% chance consumers will abandon it and look for other results. Ensuring that web pages load quickly, regardless of device, is crucial to business success and authority.

Optimizing page speed is possible, but it is potentially time-consuming, so for busy business owners, it is best to outsource the effort. Professionals will take many steps to ensure an organization's page speed does not hinder SEO CTR, including:

  • Optimize and compress images.
  • Limit redirects
  • Use caching
  • Allow asynchronous loading for JavaScript and CSS files.
  • Choose performance-optimized hosting.

8. Consider Bounce Rate

A bounce occurs when someone visits a website from a SERP but returns to the SERP without navigating to other pages on the clicked link. When a page experiences a high percentage of bounces, it can affect its ranking because the search engines might view the page as irrelevant to the searcher's inquiries.

An average bounce rate is between 26% and 70%. Most businesses want their pages to experience a rate at the lower end of the spectrum, typically between 26% and 40%. Even a higher-than-average bounce rate, somewhere between 70% and 90%, is not the end of the world.

In most high bounce rate situations, a company can take several relatively quick steps to improve the rating:

  • Ensure multi-device functionality.
  • Avoid using full-screen pop-ups.
  • Review topic and content consistency.
  • Assess traffic sources
  • Inspect page speed and possible 404 errors.

A company wants the SEO CTR to result in extended site visits and exploration of other internal pages. A high bounce rate means there is a design flaw in the page that needs correcting.

What Is a CTR Booster?

A CTR booster is a tool used to automate CTR in SEO; it is unethical, and most search engines have rules against the process. Automation creates an unfair advantage in the marketplace, and it skews data.

Also, with the increasing availability of bots and underprivileged workers, some businesses use CTR boosters to manipulate competitors' data. Unscrupulous companies can use CTR boosters or bots to click on PPC advertisements of competitors, intentionally driving up marketing costs without adding to their profits.

Businesses should concern themselves with ways of protecting against click fraud. Large organizations likely have access to an in-house IT department capable of monitoring performance metrics and identifying CTR bots. Smaller and medium-sized businesses might need to outsource the expense to more skilled teams.

Identifying the Warning Signs of CTR Boosters

As with data breaches, when a company believes an unscrupulous actor is manipulating its data, it needs to identify the offending parties and their tools. According to experts, there are several signs of CTR bot activity:

  • Abnormally high CTR for campaigns.
  • Poor engagement metrics
  • Irregular traffic spikes
  • Higher advertising costs, more traffic, and fewer conversions.

How Can a Digital Marketing Service Boost Your SEO CTR?

how digital marketing services can boost your seo ctr

Companies often struggle with SEO, techniques, and best practices. The digital environment changes continuously, and if a business is not on top of the changes, its web pages, content, and other media will drop in the SERPS.

A company's SEO CTR is its bread and butter, but to stay on top of it and improve it, professional optimization experience is necessary. Contact Us at elk Marketing to learn how the service can help grow organic revenue.