Do you A/B test ad copy in your pay per click ads? Well that's great news! You've separated yourself from the lazy advertisers out there. But what about your meta descriptions and page titles? Sure, it's a little more advanced, and possibly more time consuming, but how else will you entice searchers to skip over those Wikipedia and and NYT.com search results sitting above you on the SERPS? Read on for some tips on optimizing.
Meta Descriptions and Page Titles: Ad Copy for Organic Search
With your ad copy on AdWords, you've got 95 characters (130 if you count the display URL) to differentiate yourself from the competition, who may well be positioned above you.
For organic search, Google typically shows the first 150 characters of your meta description. Couple that with your optimized page title and keyword rich clean URL's, and you've got even more room to make an impression on users. Just as with AdWords, you may not be able to appear at the top spot for all of your key terms. So if you're just letting Google grab a random snippet from your site as the meta description, or even worse, duplicating the same description across the whole site, you could be missing out.
Let's cover some of the simple tips to increase your site's click through rate in organic search:
1. Start Small
No one expects you to overhaul all of the page titles and meta descriptions on your site right away. Head over to your analytics and find your top landing pages from organic searches. Using Google Analytics, you'll want to view non-paid search engine visitors, and drill down into the landing page dimension.
What you're now looking at is a list of the most popular entrance pages on your site from organic search. Take a look at what Google is displaying for these pages in the SERPs. How does it stack up against the competition?
A variation of this would be researching your most important products, and adjusting title and descriptions for those pages.
2. Set up Dynamic Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Most content management systems allow some form of dynamic title and description generation. This is perfect for large sites who couldn't possibly be expected to create unique titles and descriptions for every page by hand. For an eCommerce site, having your product page title generated from the "[Product Name] from [Company Name]" formula cuts right to the chase, and putting the most important text first generally fairs best.
As for the meta description, having your CMS pull a snippet of the product description is perfectly suitable, especially for your less important pages. For the most important items, feel free to write up an enticing 150 word description by hand.
The most important part of this step is making sure that there are no duplicate page titles or meta descriptions on your site. And how do you check on this? By making sure you...
3. Monitor Your Google Webmaster Site Profile
Your site's profile within Google Webmaster Central contains tons of useful information. You can view external and internal linking data, check for sitemap and crawl errors, and view duplicate title and meta descriptions. Even if two of the most inconsequential pages have duplicate titles and/or descriptions, your site technically "has errors", according to Webmaster Central.
4. Include Your Unique Value Proposition
Do you offer free shipping? Next day shipping? Buy one, get one free? There's no better place for this than in your page title or meta description. Let's use our page title generation formula from before but add your UVP: "[Product Name] with Free Shipping from [Company Name]".
5. Write For The User, Not The Robot
In the old days, webmasters used to pack their page titles and meta descriptions with keywords to game the system and appear more relevant to the search engines. Not only has this tactic been made ineffective these days, it can even cause your site to be penalized.
Write your titles and descriptions for the user, not the search engine robots. Don't even consider keyword density. An enticing search listing should naturally include relevant keywords.
Do you have any tips for optimizing meta descriptions and page titles?