How to Create Stupidly Awesome SERP Snippets!
So, you’ve managed to get your website onto the first page of Google. Congratulations! But enticing users to click through and actually visit your site is another challenge that can make or break how successful your site will be. By increasing your click-through rate (CTR) you can improve the amount of traffic on your site and draw in more traffic.
Before looking at what can be done to improve CTR, we need to look at what makes up a result in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Below is the main, visible content of a search engine results page snippet. The page or meta title, the meta description and the URL.
The page title is often thought to be the most important on-page ranking factor - aside from the content itself. It is also a critical part of the SERP, as it is the hyperlinked blue text that appears in the snippet of information relating to the website being linked to. The page title should not only contain the appropriate keyword or term that you’d like the page to rank for, but it should also describe the content on the page. Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, and will cut off (truncate) titles that are longer than this.
The meta description appears below it and offers a description of the content on the page. Unlike the page title, the meta description is not a ranking factor (the only exception to this is for the Chinese search engine Baidu). However, it is important because it helps to encourage a user to click through to the page.
As the meta description is generally limited to 160 characters, it’s important to make sure you keep your page descriptions below this - 155 is a good target length. Google recommends that the meta description gives a concise, readable summary of the content on the page. They also recommend that meta descriptions are not duplicated (just like page titles), something that’s discussed in the video below;
Making sure that these descriptions will drive clicks, while also being relevant to the topic you’re trying to cover, is an important part of making the most of the real estate you’ve secured on the page.
The URL where the content is located sits between the page title and meta description. Best practice suggests that the URL should be concise and descriptive, using dashes to separate words. The URL does not have to match the page title, but it should be similar.
How can you optimize titles & descriptions to draw in more clicks?
There are many different methods of optimising page titles and meta descriptions, but one common factor is trying to appeal to emotions that drive clicks through to the site. Emotions such as surprise, excitement, fear or amusement are all excellent ways to drive clicks through to your articles.
Controversial content also draws humans in, because it challenges the opinions that readers might hold. In a similar vein, unexpected or unusual titles can draw in curious users who want to learn and understand more about the topic.
A good snippet also shows off the benefit of reading that article for the user. What are they going to get out of reading it? If the snippet doesn’t answer that question, people will have a hard time justifying spending their valuable time to find out.
You also want to make sure that you don’t misrepresent the content in your article. If you do that, readers will get a bad impression and may leave negative comments, or avoid your work in future. You need to make sure that your titles are honest and informative, but also as gripping as possible.
Here are a few examples of some basic titles, and improved versions that could drive more clicks:
“5 Common SEO Pitfalls”
“5 SEO Pitfalls that might Plague your Website”
- A title that is both controversial and plays on the element of fear.
“Tips for improving your CTR”
“How you can start Improving your CTR with no effort!”
- Showcases the benefit that the user will gain from reading this article.
“A Guide to Optimising your LinkedIn Profile”
“How can I Optimize my LinkedIn Profile? A Complete Guide”
- This title is an incomplete question, preying on curiosity while also offering the potential reader the benefit of answering that question.
A good meta description can help with this, especially by offering a snippet of the main content of the article that best helps to describe what it is about, as well as the benefits it can offer.
Don’t forget about Rich Snippets!
With information from Google’s knowledge graph appearing in more and more SERPs, marking your site up using structured data is another excellent way to improve your appearance in the results. These highly detailed results can provide a great deal more information to the user, and potentially drive even more traffic through to your site.