Although it may not get as much attention as your web pages, your actual listing in the search engine results pages, i.e. how it appears, is important for your SEO. For every page that you optimise, it’s important to also optimise the title tags, description tags and other elements that are used for your listing.
Why worry about your listing
Your listing in the search engine results is the first thing your search audience encounters. If your listing is attractive, and the information provided seems to fit the bill, the searcher will click through to your page. If not, they won’t spare you a second thought.
If this wasn’t enough reason to be interested in improving your listing, the popularity of your listing also contributes to its placement. In other words, the more people you get clicking through, the more impressed the search engines are likely to be, and the better your rankings will be because the click through rate is part of the search engine’s consideration as to which site gets a place on that all important first page.
Give your page listings a bit of polish
There are a few elements to your listing that you can polish up. A mixture of SEO know-how and good writing skills is what’s required.
1. Title tags. The search engines don’t always take your title tag as the hyperlink for your listing, but they usually do. Generally, the title tag is used unless it doesn’t match the query.
Optimising your title tag involves much the same work as performing SEO on any text: insert keywords to improve relevance. The other part of your work is a little more creative. As the highlighted text at the top of your listing is what will first catch the eye, you need to craft something that’s catchy and quick. A list of keywords is not advisable. Think more along the lines of eye-catching headlines.
2. Description tags. Next in line is your description tag. This should be used as your page’s blurb, although again the search engines will use other text if this isn’t supplied. Use this tag to show exactly how fitting your page is for the internet user’s search.
3. URLs. Your page’s URL counts toward an internet user’s decision to click as well. If the page’s address shows a clear path and features keywords, it will appear to support the idea that your page is the best answer to their search.
4. … and much more. Google and Bing are using all sorts of elements in SERPs these days, and it’s best to have your bases covered:
- Author tags – build up an author profile using Google’s rel=author attribute
- Reviews – these are sometimes featured in Google and Bing listings, although it’s a good idea to build up reviews for your business in any case
- Breadcrumb navigation – sometimes this is featured instead of a straight URL, for pages that have relevant keywords in the breadcrumb navigation
New listing features are being created by the search engines all the time, so it’s worth doing a search for your keywords periodically to see what’s going on. This will also help you to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing.
It’s worth noting these extra elements of the SERPs, too:
- Google Instant Preview – these show a sneak peek of your page, meaning that your design can impact on your click-through rate.
- Sitelinks in top listings – if you do make it to the top, your listing might feature a number of relevant site links. Check these for SEO issues.