Interview with Craig Campbell: How Experiments with CTR Can Foster Your Traffic

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Interview with Craig Campbell: How Experiments with CTR Can Foster Your Traffic

Craig Campbell, a Glasgow-based SEO expert, and digital marketing speaker, has gone from being an SEO freelancer in the 2000s, running his own SEO agency for about ten years to launching his training courses.

I watched his podcast with Holly Starks about CTR manipulation, which caught me quite curious about the topic. I did a little bit of research and finally reasoned that nothing is better than talking straight to the expert, so here we go.

In this interview, Craig tells about CTR manipulation tactics, when you should embark upon CTR manipulation, why you should not bother about your business data, and whether it’s efficient to use click bots in 2020.

So do jump in to learn the details.

P.S. For those who choose to listen to interviews, we've got this video record.

1. Craig, you experiment with various SEO tactics, always looking for different ways out. Can CTR manipulation be considered a low-hanging way to boost traffic?

The answer would be yes, and no. I’m going to say yes. For example, I’m on page five. If I were to do CTR, I would see an increased ranking very quickly. The problem with that is when you switch off the click-through rate, your rankings slump back down.

Now about where CTR works very well. You get to page one, and you start sticking to the sixth position. For me, it’s no longer a case of fubar-optimizing your content or building more links or anything like that. It already comes down to click-through rate and engagement. So when you’ve done enough on-page and link building to get to the first page, now it’s click-through rate and engagement that will slot you into the top three positions.

If you do that over the period of a month, I believe that when you get up into the first position, you will get more than clicks organically. This, in turn, means that when you switch off the paid traffic, or whatever you’re doing to manipulate the traffic, you won’t see the dip because you get all that click-through rate and engagement naturally anyway.

So that’s why I think you’ve got to wait until you’re on the first page, and you've got the base on-page and link building, and everything else you can do in terms of optimizing your website. And then do your CTR.

So I wouldn’t consider it a good way to get some low-hanging fruit. Only if you want to pay on a regular ongoing basis, and you don’t potentially have bugs on a page, and stuff like that.

2. If CTR manipulation gives a rapid traffic boost, how fast should you be ready to see ranking losses? What can you do to keep those rankings sustainable?

Do your on-page, link building, and then CTR manipulation. When you do get into the top slot, that way, organic traffic will keep your ranking sustainable. So don't solely rely on traffic and engagement, because with a low amount of backlinks, poor on-page, you’ll see a very quick dip in your rankings.

3. What markets can thrive on CTR manipulation?

In my opinion, pretty much any market. People do it in the gambling industry. People do it in every industry. People are even using CTR even when it comes to ranking your Google My Business listing. It can also work on YouTube, podcasts, and clearly on your organic pages. Click-through rate and engagement is something that helps you rank anyway. So be under no illusion, CTR manipulation can work in any niche. Make sure that you look at that and add it to your campaigns.

4. Let’s say I run a small dental clinic. I have 50 reviews and 4 stars rating, while my competitors have 2 reviews, the same rating but rank higher. Obviously, I have higher user engagement, so what’s the reason?

Who says you have a higher engagement? If you did have higher engagement, you would be ranking above your competitors. The only two things that work on a GMB are your citations and your click-through rate engagement. They don’t care about reviews. It comes down to how well set up your GMB is alongside the click-through rate and engagement.

5. What kind of engagement works as a positive ranking signal for GMBs?

I personally use local ones. I would use the links of local Facebook ads targeting people within the proximity, and local advertising places. You can use any local business directories. If you have email market list segmented, use your email market list to drive people to your GMB.

Any kind of local traffic will help a GMB. To get local traffic, you can use Gumtree, Vivastreet, Facebook ads, anything you can do to force it, including organic social media, and email market list. These are the things that are gonna give positive ranking signals to your GMBs.

So do make sure that you’ve got your citations in order, name address and postcode as consistent as you can, across all over your citations.

6. Speaking of CTR manipulation, you’ve mentioned such options as microworkers and click bots. Can human behavior imitation substitute real traffic? Is it worth your hard-earned money?

Microworkers are real people. So those are real traffic, and, of course, that can work.

Many people will tell you click bots don’t work. All know the fact that it used to be. And that’s because Google knows their IP address range, and they don’t mimic human behaviour.

So now about the click bots that do work. It's not that the tools are bad, it's the proxies that you use. At that present, residential proxies or mobile proxies work a hell of a lot better. So that stuff that can still work very well is basically down to the proxies that you use.

7. If I care about the accuracy of my business statistics, should I bring into play bots and microworkers?

It’s a hard question to answer. If you’re going to introduce bots and microworkers, it will skew your data. So if you care about the accuracy of your business statistics, you don’t have to use that tactic. You just won’t rank as well as the competitor.

You’ve got to weigh up what is more important: get the best ranking you can, or care about your business statistics. Most people would choose high rankings and more money, traffic, leads, and sales. So it would be best if you weighed up the option that is the base for you.

I don’t want to force CTR on anyone, though. CTR engagement is a very well weighted Google ranking factor. So I would forget about business statistics and focus on leads and revenue.

8. Google can easily find the footprints of famous bots, but you slightly mentioned that they could work well if the right technology is used behind them. What did you mean? Do you have any real examples that worked out well?

In terms of an example that worked out well, I have a live example on this video.

But what I said previously was mix bots and real traffic. In that particular video, I used my mailing list, Facebook ads, and both bots and microworkers involved. So the right mix is not going to leave a massive footprint because primarily everything is your traffic. I would just work smart.

9. If clicks imitations seem to have a zilch effect, what other ways to beef up a click-through rate can I go for?

Any source of your traffic. Whether you use a paid ad on podcasts, webinars, drive traffic from someone else’s YouTube channel, use paid Facebook ads, Quora, advertise on directories, anything you can do to get good, quality, relevant traffic, where people just won’t bounce back off your website – you can go for it. It doesn’t have to be click imitations. It can be real traffic. That is the perfect way to do it, but people also use bots to accelerate the process a little bit.

10. Can anything go awry? Did you have any missteps in your practice that you want to forewarn about?

Not when it comes to CTR manipulation. Nothing can really go wrong unless you're going to use a bot that Google knows the IP addresses of. It’s not just going to be effective. But there are no missteps even if you use microworkers, paid Facebook ads, your mailing list... You’re not doing anything that no one else can do, not something that Google can penalize for.

The key thing for the whole process here is getting real, quality, relevant traffic, not just traffic, but relevant traffic – people that might be interested in what you’ve got to say. It’s not going to be as effective, if you just go and put your ads to any person that may or may not be interested in what you’ve got.

What is related to Facebook ads, you can get targeted traffic through demographics and interests. You can also use your Facebook pixel to target people who’ve been on your website. And get on a good quality relevant webinar, and podcasts to drive real traffic.

So no real danger. Just about how effective it’s going to be. And obviously, you’d want that traffic to be engaged, watching your video, pages, clicking them, and engaging with your stuff. And that’s why the only way that works is getting relevant people.

11. Being in digital marketing for 18 years, you literally witnessed the rise of SEO. What keeps you upbeat at work for so many years?

I have gone from being a freelancer, probably spent four or five years not really understanding what I was doing. Then I went on and built an agency, which I ran for about ten years. That was hard work. I became a bit disillusioned with how much money I could earn. But I pivoted more into the affiliate market and training. I actually do love SEO, automation, tools, the community. So I’m really obsessed with SEO, and that helps. If you have a passion for something, I think that keeps you upbeat to a certain degree, but as long as you enjoy it. When you don’t wake up on Monday morning and don’t think ‘UGH, I’ve got to work again’.

And SEO changed massively over the time up, from the days when you actually had to do nothing but change your title tag, put a crappy piece of content, and you ranked with some links. Things have changed. It’s ever-changing, which also keeps you on your toes. That’s what keeps me upbeat.

The Key Takeaway

So Craig recommends:

  1. Do any CTR manipulation when your on-page and link building are in a good shape – this will help to keep ranking results sustainable.
  2. Any market can thrive on CTR manipulation, local businesses are no exception.
  3. The only two things that work on a GMB are your citations and your click-through rate engagement.
  4. Click bots can still work well depending on the proxies that you use.
  5. Leads and revenue are more important than business statistics, so if you want to rank as well as your competitors, use CTR manipulation.
  6. Attract only relevant traffic, not just any traffic.