Why optimise your listing?
Here are the results of a Google search for "Coffee jokes". Which website would you click on?
Although the website is ranked fourth, it stands out from and is more likely to get clicked. It is no good appearing in search results if no one clicks your listing.
The components of a search engine listing
To maximise your click-through-rate, you should pay attention to each component of your listing. A successful search result listing must standout, answer the question and be credible/ trustworthy.
The page title
Google shows up to 70 characters (including spaces) of the page title (or the meta title to give its technical name). Longer titles will be truncated.
The page title is your chance to grab your reader's attention. Make the page title a clear, concise explanation of what your page is about.
The page URL
The page URL (or link) should be descriptive, pertinent to the website and human readable (ie. without funny characters and symbols). For SEO best practice, the URL should reflect your page title.
A descriptive URL will also enforce the perceived trust worthiness of your website, a key factor in increasing your click-through-rate.
The page description
Google shows 150 - 160 characters (including spaces) of a page's description (aka meta description tag). If your description exceeds 160 characters it will be truncated.
Use your description to expand on your page title giving your potential audience a better idea of what will be on the page. Here is an excellent post on writing effective meta descriptions.
Your customers are roughly 20% more likely to buy your product if it has a rating.
Ask your web agency to use Schema Markup to show product reviews below your search listings.
Google Knowledge Panel
Register your business on Google My Business and your company may also show up on the Google Knowledge Panel that is often displayed on the right hand side of local search results pages (as shown below). This will highlight to users your position on the map, photos, opening hours, address, Google Plus profile, and reviews.
Get listed on Google Maps
It is also essential if you are a local business that you register your business location on Google Maps for local searches - this is extremely useful when you consider the current explosion of the mobile market that now counts for over 30% of all searches on Google.
If you are a local business here is an excellent SEO Checklist for local business
Advanced results page optimisation
- Breadcrumb links often show when you search for a brand name. Google will show a breakdown of the main areas of the website. Breadcrumbs are generally shown for larger websites with a clear structure and hierarchy.
- Rich snippets: opening hours, company address, product prices and special offers can all be made to show in search using Schema.org. Essential Schema that all websites should be using.
Google Webmasters is your source for information on how to set up rich snippets.
Deprecated elements of search results
As of 28 August 2014 Google has dropped authorship from search results. This authorship section has been left in for information purposes only.
Here is your big chance to stand out. Authorship is basically your website telling Google who wrote the article. You will have to ask your webmaster to connect your Google plus account with your website.
The general concensus among the SEO community is that having Authorship on your pages will give you a 20-30% increase in click-through-rate, though this depends on how widely adopted authorship is among your SERP competitors and how good-looking your profile avatar is (ok! the last point was a joke). Aside from making your website stand out with a photo, Authorship will further install trust in your audience.
Google Plus circle count
Circle count has been dropped from listings, though left in here for information purposes. A healthy following on Google Plus within your niche remains a healthy rankings signal.
Circle count is the number of circles that people have put you in on Google Plus (similar to your followers on Facebook or Twitter). It will only show up if you are using Google Plus regularly and have a respectable number of followers. Like authorship, it is a good way to install confidence and earn the trust of your potential audience.
As businesses invest heavily online, search engine listings are becoming fiercely competitive. To be successful online, your business needs to continually monitor and update the appearance in search to stand out and stay ahead of competition.