How to improve your search rankings with a simple 5-minute writing job
SEO requires a lot of work. Much of it is technical, whilst the rest usually takes an age to complete. Any tactics often take a while to generate any results and, even then, it’s hard to correlate what has worked and why. With this in mind, it’s nice to hear that there’s one SEO job that’s quick, simple, laser-focused and extremely effective.
Many people forget that making it to page one is only part of the job. You see, whenever a search is made, a list of results is shown and the searcher still has to decide which page to click on.
And this decision is really important.
Clearly it will dictate the website that the user heads to and which brand it will be exposed to. That much is obvious. But there’s another factor to consider… that of the compound SEO effect of getting that click.
Here’s the thing:
Google constantly analyses click-through data to assess the quality of the results it is displaying.
In other words, the number of people that click on each result matters greatly. If Google realizes that a URL in position 9 is getting more action than something in position 4, it will get bumped up the rankings. Likewise, anything that isn’t getting many clicks will get dropped like a stone.
So, there’s an important lesson here:
We must focus on getting that click.
If we have applied lots of SEO techniques to our content and worked hard to reach page one, we must not waste the opportunity at hand.
This subsequently prompts a question:
What can we do to encourage someone to click on our web page rather than someone else’s?
The answer lies in polishing up our meta titles and meta descriptions. Now, you don’t need lots of writing ability to do this… a handful of copywriting tips will be enough. In no particular order, here are the 5 most important things that you need to know about metadata.
Thing 1: Your metadata needs to accurately represent the content it is describing.
No matter how desperate we are to get that click, we must maintain integrity. It is tempting to create clickbait copy and you might think it to be a good idea… but it’s not.
This is because Google looks at dwell time (the amount of time someone spends on a page) alongside the click-through data.
So, if your webpage generates a lot of clicks because of hyped up, misleading copy in your metadata, but people are exiting the website immediately after visiting it, Google is clever enough to work out what’s going on. And yes, you’ll drop down the rankings.
Thing 2: Your metadata should have some sort of hook.
As authentic as honest as metadata should be, there’s still wiggle room for a bit of a tease. Every piece of content you publish exists for a reason, so be sure to highlight a hook of some sort.
If you’re creating meta titles and descriptions for a product or service page, talk about the problems it solves. If it’s a homepage, mention any offers you’ve currently got on. If it’s a contact page, put your phone number in the data (then people can actually call you without even clicking on the link in the first place).
Check out this title and description from Schuh, which displays in the UK after making the search “Nike trainers”:
Although they would be advised to tweak the description so that it doesn’t trail off, we get the point. They mention that if we were to order by 10pm, we’d get next-day delivery. That’s a nice little sales plug and a point of differentiation.
Thing 3: Use power words in your copy to leverage emotion
Copywriting isn’t like any other form or writing. It’s not like poetry or crafting a novel - the point of copywriting is to elicit a reaction from a target audience. That might be a sale, but it could equally be a download, sign-up or social share. In the case of meta data, we want a click.
Point is, copywriting focus on what we want people to do and strong words really help. Be strong and direct – ultimately, if you don’t think what you offer is any good, neither will anything else. Check out this list of useful power words and see which ones work for you.
Thing 4: Incorporate a keyword into your title or description where possible
Obviously you should always focus on writing naturally for your audience, but if possible, try to include a popular keyword into your title or description.
The reason is hilariously simple. It doesn’t help with SEO as such, but the keyword will be bolded out and this is quite impactful visually.
For example, if someone has searched for “SEO tips” and quickly scans the first page, their eye will naturally be drawn to descriptions and titles that have words in bold.
Contrast the effectiveness of this search result:
With this one:
Thing 5: Don’t worry if your meta title or description doesn’t display at first
The trouble with metadata is that this is just an offering to Google. A gesture on the webmaster’s part to make life easier for the ranking algorithm.
There’s nothing to say that Google will definitely use the title or description that we’ve supplied. It might well just extract some copy directly from the page.
Give Google some time to index the new information you’ve supplied and, if they still ignore your copy, you should consider changing it. It might be that they feel the content on your web page should be represented differently.
So there you have it.
You may not be a copywriter or even like writing at all. But your meta titles and meta descriptions just require a sentence or two. And by putting some thought into representing the value of the content which lies ‘on the other side’, you will attract more clicks.
That in turn will improve your ranking positions. And this generates a flywheel effect, where the higher your ranking position, the more people click on your result. The more people that click on your URL, the more uncatchable you’ll be. And all this from a quick little job.
The majority of people either ignore their descriptions and titles, or they just don’t realise their value. Do yourself a favour and don’t let all your hard work go to waste.
Matt Press is an experienced copywriter who has written words for some of the UK’s biggest brands. His main focus nowadays is teaching people how to get into copywriting.