Using your title and description tags properly is quite possibly one of the most overlooked aspects to encouraging traffic and higher click through rates (CTR) Something as simple as using the right 65 characters to summarize your page title can mean the difference between lackluster and blockbuster click through conversion.
Despite where your pages are displayed in search engine results, one thing is certain, if your titles or descriptions lack (a) a call to action (b) are dull or (c) fail to differentiate themselves from other listings on the page, then it’s essentially like shooting yourself in the foot as opposed to writing a relevant, enticing headline with mass appeal.
The importance of a good title
The title is the gatekeeper to your traffic, it is the first thing people see and it most assuredly determines if you manage to pique the interest of the reader, which ultimately compels the reader to click your link vs. the other 9 listing on the page in search engines.
When crafting a title, we may ask ourselves:
Is it utilitarian?
Should I include the brand statement or is it even necessary?
Am I making a claim or stating an opinion?
Is there a hook? a Call to Action or expected result from the reader?
Every single one of these points is equally important, but essentially they all depend on what you expect from the viewer. If validation is all you are seeking, you can accomplish that in any social media site or forum. But if you expect to deliver hordes of traffic from the collective combination of your pages, then each title is like a piece of the puzzle that you can use to expand the scope of your distribution.
Branding is great, if you need it, but sometimes opting for greater relevance and less hype is just what the doctor ordered. If you use an excessive brand statement (for example) are you assuming that the reader is familiar with your niche? Oftentimes as a result of narrowing the focus (to find higher conversion) for our campaigns, we begin to target a very specific type of consumer.
Despite who or what that is, the web at large can provide traffic and hence opportunity from any number of angles. By precluding the needs of the many by targeting a few, you may in fact be dismissing the ability to broaden your market base and appeal to a potentially larger and more feasible audience. One possible solution would be to go back to basics, write your titles or amend them using the most simplistic language possible to provide mass appeal. Then use your description tag for the specifics.
Don’t stuff keywords in your titles
Having a high ranking position for a title stuffed full of keywords is not an attractive proposition, in fact to many, this is only a precursor to determine that the editorial content contained on the page more than likely shares the same attributes. A well written title, with a relevant meta description on the other hand, can get more traffic even in the #7 or 8 position on the page than a search result in a top 3 position that is poorly written.
Even if the reader does click a stuffed link and realizes that the page lacks quality, the first natural impulse is to hit the back button and look for the next best thing on the list. You could talk until your blue in the face about the importance of relevance and the correlation of what you put in the title should be easily accessible when they click it, because people expect to see what was promised or alluded to.
Deliver the promise or lose the visitor, relevance is the key
As search engines have become wiser, most savvy users want more than a bunch of keywords, they want relevance, which comes from observing the entire snippet that is your doorway to your pages. There are a few things that you can do to ensure that the description you want to show is shown by using a proper meta description tag. Search engine watch has an excellent article from Danny Sullivan called “how to use HTML Meta Tags” that covers more about this topic.
Real optimization implies something outside of making it faster, more streamlined or removing obstructing elements such as code or website structure. It also covers the necessity for compelling and skillful writing to entice an emotional response from a prospect, which in turn leads to (the end result) higher more relevant traffic, higher sales conversions, more RSS subscriptions or readers to your blog, higher generation of leads or whatever the purpose of that page is.
Write for the reader not just the search engine
If you are concerned about how to get the page to move up in the search results, then you can always build links to increase your rankings, but, even if you do manage to break the top 10 with a weak title that won’t convert, what is the point?
Not to say that I have not fallen prey to sculpting the message to accomplish higher rankings (based on keyword placement and relevance) as opposed to realizing that ultimately it is the human reader who decides to take action or dismiss your listing.
In conclusion: The more frequently you refresh your content and the more relevant your titles and tags are the higher your pages will rank for your main keywords. It is possible to rank for terms that are sparsely on your pages (we will cover that tactic in a later post) but for natural 1st line, organic traffic, you want your on page factors to have all of the right ingredients to at least get your pages in the ball park *the top 30 results. From the top 30 you should be able to apply tweaks, build links or find the magic authority link to put you in the top 10.
Since traffic is the goal, cut to the chase and keep it short, succinct and relevant which will serve two unique purposes.
1. The people you want to find you (the real decision makers) will have the highest regard for your offer and your pages if they are professional, clear, punchy and to the point.
2. When the cyclical spike to the top 10 pushes your listing off the front page and the long tail of search kicks in, you will still be on top of the game as the keywords you chose will convert even higher amidst scattered search results from pages offering so many choices. Simply and sweet leaves nothing to the imagination, that way you get the highest possible returns with the least amount of hype.