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9 WordPress Hacks To Encourage Higher CTRs From Google

Great content that offers value to readers will rank in Google. But there are tricks you can use to increase your clickthroughs and grab attention from searchers.

We have a great guide on basic SEO setup using the WordPress SEO plugin. But this is just the first step of WP SEO and there are many other things you can do to coax more visits from Googlers.

Here I’ve curated 9 of my favorite techniques you can use on your own WordPress site to build more organic traffic. These tricks can’t inherently fix bad content or make poor content rank better. But if you already have a great site you can use these to increase your clickthroughs and ideally your SERP positions.

1. Schema Reviews

Google’s rich snippets support a review type for reviewed content. This lets you display star ratings in Google search results.

Each review is rated on a 1-5 star system and these review snippets typically increase clickthroughs. You can find lots of great plugins to handle this functionality for you and setup a detailed rating system from scratch.

But these schema review features work best when they’re relevant to the search. Google chooses when to show schema data so if your page isn’t a review then the schema might not show up.

Focus on individual product reviews written by a single writer, or curated by users on your website. Both of these techniques work well and they’ll look authoritative in the eyes of big G.

2. Remove Publication Date

Some blog owners prefer to keep their content dated so the site acts like an archive. This definitely makes sense on news-style sites like the NYTimes or TechCrunch.

But with evergreen content it’s much better to remove the date entirely. This has been shown to increase CTRs since users are more likely to ignore a site with older “dated” content.

There are two ways you can remove dates from your search results. The first is to edit your theme and simply remove all dates from the post template. If Google can’t find a date on your page then it simply won’t include one.

The 2nd option is to use a plugin like this one. It lets you select how long to show a specific date before hiding it(eg. show dates for 30 days before removing). Google will pick up the date and rank it for as long as the date is visible, then remove it later.

Both options work well so either choice should produce the same effect.

Also note: some blogs can do better with dates if they update frequently or if the content is breaking/newsworthy. Removing the date works best on evergreen content that’ll be valuable for years or decades.

3 Add Year Into Title With PHP

Every year people search for the best new plugins/themes/products for that year. And each year new content gets published targeting these yearly searches.

There’s a fantastic article on this subject by Glen Allsopp who explains this technique for ranking and why it works so well. The goal is to write headlines where you can add the year into your title. Something like “Best WordPress Portfolio Themes in 2017”.

The problem with that is going back to update the post every year. What happens in 2018, 2019, and so on?

That’s why you should add a dynamic year into the title tag. To do this just add the following code into your functions.php file:

/**
 *  create shortcode to output the current year
 *  shortcode: [year] 
*/
function output_year() {
  $year = date("Y");
  return "$year";
}
add_shortcode('year', 'output_year');

Now you can write headlines like “Best WordPress Portfolio Themes in [year]”

In the admin panel you’ll still see the [year] tag. But when you visit the post it’ll go through PHP, call that shortcode, and automatically output the current year. Now your “best of the year” posts will always be up-to-date!

4. Shorter URLs

The jury is still out on this one, but there are some basic studies that conclude shorter URLs typically attract more clicks than lengthy URLs.

WordPress lets you set the URL structure on the backend for every post you write. So if you customize your permalinks be sure to keep them focused.

I typically aim for 2-5 words max in my permalinks.

When people see a shorter URL they’re more inclined to skim those few words and guess what the content is about. You should include just enough info to get visitors curious to click.

Again I can’t state emphatically that this is the end-all cure for lower CTRs. But I have seen a lot of modern blogs moving towards shorter URLs, not to mention I typically prefer them whenever I’m searching in Google.

5. Schema Breadcrumbs

On-page breadcrumbs clarify intent and help visitors browse your site faster. But there’s another benefit of breadcrumbs in the form of schema markup.

These breadcrumbs need to be programmatically set for each page so Google knows how to crawl them. You can use a plugin like Breadcrumb NavXT to setup breadcrumbs if they can fit in your theme. This plugin specifically supports the RDFa/Schema syntax to make sure Google gets the message.

But if you’d like to try something else I do recommend these alternative plugins:

And if you wanna be extra careful you can check your page in the structured data tool. This pulls all Schema code from the page to let you know what Google sees when they crawl.

6. Publish Revised Dates

Earlier in this post I said to remove dates from your posts. And that is a good strategy, especially for evergreen content. But I know it doesn’t work for every blog.

If you decide to keep post dates then at least update them frequently and display the modified time instead of the original publishing date.

If you have an older post that does well in Google you should go in and make a few changes to the content(Google wants to see changes, not just republishing the same content). Try to do this at least once or twice a year.

When you update the post you can show a “modified date” which Google then updates in their search results.

You’ll find a bunch of examples in Google and modified dates look exactly the same as publishing dates. For instance if you Google “how to start a fashion blog” the 1st result is from a site called Blog Tyrant.

Google displays the publishing date as if it was written recently.

But if you visit the post you’ll see it was merely updated recently and could very well be many years old.

So if you’re adamant about keeping dates on your posts that is totally fine. Just be good about updating them every so often to keep them fresh in the eyes of Google users.

7. Improve Site Speed

This advice gets parroted so often that I think most people just tune it out. But there’s a reason everyone recommends improving site performance: it matters.

Small tweaks can make a big improvement in UX and bounce rates. Both of those things factor into Google’s decision on rankings and placements in the SERPs. You can only see good things from speeding up your site.

It’s a good idea to first check your site’s current speed and gauge where you’re at. Free tools like GTmetrix can help with that.

There are a few different ways to approach site performance and they’re cumulative, so each thing you do helps a bit more. These are the biggest tweaks to consider:

Remember that small changes can have big improvements, especially many small changes over time. Just keep this in mind as you expand your WordPress site because performance will always be huge with Google.

8. Google AMP

The free Google AMP plugin automatically configures your site to run as an Accelerated Mobile Page. This stems from the AMP project which has been widely accepted by many large news organizations.

Google seems to rank certain AMP pages higher in search results because they load faster and offer a streamlined user experience. But some publishers report lowered earnings and poorer ad experiences on AMP.

This all comes down to personal preference for your site. If you’d like to test AMP and see how it performs then read through our guide to get all setup.

And since AMP is easy enough to configure you can always disable it in the future if you’re not seeing the results you want.

9. Get jump links w/ ToC plugin

A clear table of contents on each post is a great way to get jump links in your search results. These are labeled “jump to” in the SERPS and Google pulls these links from well-formatted ToCs.

This technique does not require schema markup which is a huge plus. You just need to create a table of contents where each item links to a specific header on your page.

Google knows how to recognize the table and when to show those jump links to visitors. They won’t appear for every query and they won’t always be relevant enough to increase CTR. But anything you can do is always worth testing.

You’ll find these jump links on many Wikipedia results because every page on the site uses a table of contents. But you’ll also find examples on larger sites like The Wirecutter.

Thankfully there are tons of table making plugins and even some “table of contents” plugins for non-technical WordPress users. I recommend this plugin if you’re looking for something free and easy to setup.

So that’s it! These are my 9 tricks for improving CTRs and getting your WordPress content higher in Google.

But remember that great content is always the first step. Your first task is to write great content that keeps readers hooked. From there you can implement these techniques and watch your CTRs blow through the roof.