Here’s the reality – you’re not always going to rank #1 for all your keywords all of the time.
Faced with this constraint, you should put some serious thought into how you plan to legimately ‘steal’ clicks from competitors ranked above you. Remember – ranking is not an end unto itself; it is the click that matters!
In this post (which is my first for SEOptimise), I cover a number of psychological subtleties which you can use to ‘window dress’ your current position in Google. I have split these into 2 categories:
a) Getting the searcher’s attention – to steal clicks from those ranked above you, you first HAVE to draw attention to your listing. And because Google limits what you (and all your competitors) can actually do in the listings, it means the smallest things can make a big difference.
b) Once they’ve noticed your listing – how to ‘sell the click’ and maximize your organic click-through rate.
I’ve used the ‘wedding favors’ market to illustrate several of these tactics – it is a highly competitive market and as such demonstrates several of these best-practices.
1. Add A Phone Number To Your Meta Description
In addition to adding credibility to your site, this quick trick means that if the user has Skype installed on their computer (which 190m users do), the phone number is turned into a clickable Skype icon. A great way to catch the searcher’s eye.
2. Add A Small Sprinkle Of Special Characters To Your Title Tag Or Meta Description
Instead of using a dash (-) or vertical (|) to separate content in your title tags, consider using a special character. Like a ♦ or a ●. Maybe you have a trademarked term which you can ™. All recent browsers support special characters, and they are more visible to searchers.
American Bridal use a strategically placed ♥ to draw attention to their URL:
This tip comes with a health warning – use only 1, at maximum 2, special characters per listing, else you risk producing a spammy-looking site. Used in moderation however, they are another useful attention-grabbing tool. Here’s a full list of HTML characters.
3. Get Your Page Reviewed On StumbleUpon
Another quick trick – getting your page reviewed will add the Stumbleupon logo next to your title tag for people with the Stumbleupon toolbar. It’s a subtle boost to your page’s credibility, but more importantly it’s another chance to catch the searcher’s attention.
4. Control Your Snippet Length (strategy 1)
You have 155 characters at your disposal before Google truncates your meta description. However, I recommend imposing a 70 character limit for your snippet. This will mean you use only the 1-line of text instead of two.
Why? Because a) it forces you to get to the point, b) people never read the entire snippet anyway and c) all the other pages you are competing with use bloated meta descriptions that take up both lines – so keeping yours short is another way of standing out.
(n.b. For the uninitiated, your snippet is the 2-lines of descriptive text underneath your title. More often than not Google uses your meta description for this, particularly if you include your keywords in it.)
5. Control Your Snippet Length (strategy 2)
An alternative strategy is to choose 100-110 characters for your snippet (i.e. meta description).
This sends your snippet onto its second line, but only just. The rest of the line is white space which helps give your title and snippet a spot of breathing room – making them more likely to actually get read.
6. Get An Indented Listing
Double your control of Google real estate with a coveted indented listing. Not only does this push your competitors further down the rankings, it also naturally draws your eyes to the area of white space to the left of the indented listing.
An indented listing is considerably easier to get than the initial listing. And you can actively pursue one – for guidance on indented listings see here (n.b. this site autoplays a video on indented listings when you visit).
7. Lower Your Ranking To Position 10
It is a well known observation that sites at position 10 get more traffic than those in positions slightly higher up. As a strictly temporary measure you might want to alter the title tag in the short term to dip into that 10th spot. Of course, long-term you don’t want to be anywhere near the bottom.
8. Google Site Links
Nothing controls white space better than having Google display up to 8 of your internal site links.
Although you no longer have to be top of Google for your keyword to benefit from this, it is still very much in their hands whether they grant you this free real estate or not.
Once You’ve Got Their Attention…
The above are purely visual tactics to get your listing noticed. However, once you’ve momentarily got the attention of the searcher’s eyeballs, it is time to sell the click! And fast. Here’s a short list of things to do:
9. Your Title Tages – As Short As Possible, But No Shorter
You’ve got 67 characters to make your pitch before Google cuts you short. If you can do it in 50 and still contain your keywords, then great – resist the temptation to add fluff. White space is your friend, and short(ish) titles are far more readable.
10. Copywriting For Title Tags
11. Use Your Snippet To Reinforce Your Title
No significant weight is given to the meta description for SEO purposes. It is therefore a great opportunity to use this space to help sell the click. What can the reader expect if they choose to click on your listing? How is it going to change their day? What’s in it for them?
Look at this great example of what I am talking about:
For many the meta description is an afterthought. Not for you though.
12. Use Friendly URLs
Your URL can help reassure a searcher that you are going to give them what you are promising. By using keywords in the URL, the searcher’s subconscious will say ‘ok, they actually DO have a page about this, I’m not being duped, maybe it’s worth a look’.
(Of course, the keywords will also be bolded for extra attention too.)
Ultimately Google limits what you can do with your listing – you only have a Title Tag, a Snippet and a URL to work with. However, because this is the same for everybody, even small tweaks can make a noticeable difference to your traffic.
Take a quick look at your competition, particularly those that rank above you – are they using any of these 12 strategies above? If not, here’s your chance to legitimately steal traffic from them without having to improve your ranking.
Any tips or tricks you use that I’ve left out? I would love to hear from you in the Comments below if you have.