A simple SEO tip you can use to get more website traffic

Roll, who make some pretty cool workflow software, published an article called ‘Top SEO tips from Top Agencies’. They approached a range of SEO specialists in NZ and Australia to contribute, including SureFire.

Contributors were asked to submit a practical tip that is valuable and actionable for people who know relatively little about SEO. You can see our SEO tip here.

And below is the full unabridged version…

Zig When Others Zag — Stand Out From The Crowd

Technical SEO, keyword research, on-page optimisation and link building are all fundamental factors to ranking well in Google. For most people, doing these things can be a daunting challenge and often best left to professional SEOs.

But here’s a simple yet powerful tip that can dramatically improve the amount of organic search traffic a website gets. And it doesn’t require technical expertise.

Do a search in Google and invariably you’ll see the top 10 organic search results have something in common — they feature the keyword in their title.

But the other thing they often have in common is that most listings look very similar. None really stand out. Ho hum…

when they're all the same nothing stands out

It’s well documented that the higher you rank on Google the more clicks you get. Position 1 gets the lion’s share of clicks. Figures vary, but often the #1 organic result gets about 35% of all the clicks, whereas listings in position 3, for example, get 10%.

How position in search results impacts on traffic

[Chart courtesy of AWR – click on chart to get current data]

But position isn’t the only thing that affects peoples’ propensity to click on a listing in search results. Another key factor — and one often overlooked — is how compelling a listing is.

If a search result has a title and description snippet that stand out from other results, then it will get a disproportionally higher number of people clicking on it. In other words, it will have a higher click-through rate (CTR).

A higher CTR means two things – the most obvious is more visitors to your website. But the other benefit is that a higher CTR can potentially result in Google improving your ranking. A virtuous circle that in turn leads to an even higher CTR.

Improving Click-Through Rates

So how do you improve your CTR? By tweaking the title and description snippet used by Google in your listing so they stand out compared to those around it.

making organic search listings satnd out from the crowd

Changing titles and descriptions is something that can usually be done easily by non- technical people through their website’s content management system (CMS).

With the title tag it’s important to ensure the target keyword is included and, ideally, is as close as possible to the start. Then the trick is to add words that turn it into a compelling headline that incites people to click on it.

Be aware you only have about 65 characters before Google truncates the title, so make them count! If you must include your brand name, put it at the end, rather than the beginning.

The description snippet is usually pulled by Google from the meta description tag, which again should be editable through the CMS. Often people don’t give these much attention because they aren’t a direct ranking factor used by Google to determine a page’s relevancy.

However, they are in fact very important because these give you the opportunity to craft a compelling description to support and reinforce the title tag. You have about 160 characters and should use them well to articulate why people should click on your listing.

Aside from including the keyword (which Google will make bold), include copy which clearly states the benefits you provide. If you have a unique sales proposition that differentiates you from competitors this is a great place to put it. Give people a reason to click!

Summary and Warning

A word of warning. Creating compelling titles and descriptions can result in dramatically improved CTR. But it’s essential you don’t fall into the trap of simply creating “clickbait” copy that bears no relation to what people will encounter when they click through to the site. If you do, people will hit the back button, resulting in high bounce rates. And when Google sees high bounce rates from their search results they conclude the result is less relevant and this can result in a ranking drop.

So with title tags and meta descriptions zig when others zag. But remember to keep it real!


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About the Author Mark Sceats

Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).

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