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Competition for the top rankings in the search engine results page is increasing. Changes in Google’s algorithms have prioritised images, videos, local search and expanded text ads, causing many digital marketers to neglect their organic (standard) search listing. So here are some tips to help you master the basics and make your search listings stand out to maximise click-through rates.
Identify your least clicked-on pages – Before you start changing anything, first audit the current click-through rates (CTR) of your existing pages. In Google Analytics, click: Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages
Export the results into an Excel sheet, and look for pages that have high impressions but a low average position and a relatively low CTR based on their position. These are the pages that you should prioritise. (If you need help figuring out what constitutes a relatively low CTR comparative to position, you can refer to Advanced Web Ranking’s guide on average CTRs per position.)
Improve your title tags– It is important to have relevant keywords in your title tags for SEO, but you need to focus on engagement first. After all, what’s the point in ranking high if your listing sounds so boring that no one wants to click on it? Good title tags are specific and stand out in the search engine results page. Consider mentioning the date, price, product name, business location or the type of content e.g. video review, recipe, slide presentation if it is a selling point as this will increase your page views.
Optimise meta descriptions – Meta descriptions offer no SEO gain which is why they are often not optimised. However, they are effectively free advertising which encourages people to click. Meta descriptions cannot exceed 160 characters in the search engine results page but you should aim to use the full word count available to you. For best results, create meta descriptions that sound seductive and intriguing. Ways to do this include: posing a question (e.g. “Guess what happened when our CEO …?”) or using a verb to encourage action (e.g. “Join this life-changing global experiment”). You can also employ suspense by using phrases like “The solution to this common electrical problem will definitely surprise you.” These phrases pique interest.
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Aim to get sitelinks
Sitelinks are links that appear underneath your root domain listing in the search engine results page. Having sitelinks featured under your main domain listing drastically increases the overall size and visual presence of your entire listing in the search engine results page, giving your business more credibility. Not all businesses will have sitelinks listed; this is controlled by Google. However, there are some things you can do to influence Google’s decision. Google ultimately lists sitelinks if it thinks they are useful to search users. So, your best chance to get sitelinks is to improve your website’s quality and perceived authority by:
- Creating a Google Search Console account
- Submitting your URL and sitemap through your Search Console account
- Fixing broken links
- Removing HTML and CSS errors
- Creating great content and sharing it on social media
- Attracting backlinks
Improve social signals – Most experts agree that a brand’s level of social media engagement in some way can affect search engine rankings. Whilst minimal, adopt some of the following strategies to improve your social signals:
- Embed social sharing buttons in your sidebar, and at the bottom of pages. Don’t create a button for every social site, just stick to the main platforms that your audience uses. Too many social widgets creates unnecessary confusion which discourages users from sharing.
- Ask readers to share. If your content is good, most people will be happy to pass it on.
- Reach out to influencers. The most popular piece of content I ever wrote received 100 times the number of views that most of my other content does. Why? Because an influencer with a huge following happened to read it, like it and share it. Don’t wait for this to happen to you. Instead take initiative and build relationships with influencers.
- Use Facebook ads or sponsored posts to increase traction. A few dollars can go a long way.
- Expand your definition of social media. Think outside the box and spend time exploring and interacting on niche-specific social media sites (e.g GoodReads for book lovers), question and answer forums like Quora or social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon.
- Create amazing content. The is the last point in this list, but by far the most important.
Improving your search engine rankings and click-through rates is perfectly achievable so don’t get discouraged. Yes, the search engine results pages are crowded with listings, but some businesses are slow to embrace and adopt SEO tactics. If you’re willing to do the work and commit to employing some of the strategies above, you can significantly increase your organic traffic and click-through rates.
What other tips and tricks have you used to improve your organic listings. Leave me a comment – I’d love to know.