A lot of the focus in search engine optimization concentrates on ranking for valuable keyword phrases. But are results for your pages that do rank in the search results visually optimized to drive click through to your site? Try these search result optimization techniques to bring some bling to your search results.
The sample search results from Google shown above are highlighted in red and green for a reason: This is a great tactic to use for the holiday season. More practically, though, the red boxes indicate items present in the search result thanks to what Google calls “Rich Snippets,” and the green boxed items are simply updates to the title tag or meta description for that page. Taking advantage of these thechniques can help your search result stand out from the crowd of 10 blue links to win the click, even if it isn’t ranked first in the search results.
Let’s cover rich snippets first. Many sites contain reviews or video or pricing information, but not all of them have these visual cues included in search results. The search engines rely on structured data in the HTML code of the webpage to identify the content that belongs in these rich snippets. If the content is already on the page, using a structured markup format like Microdata, Microformats or RDFa will alert the search engines that the marked up content should be considered for inclusion in a rich snippet. Keep in mind that optimizing for rich snippets won’t improve your rankings, they will only help you stand out when you already rank.
For example, the ratings stars on the listing for Shoes.com are possible because they added the following structured markup to the ratings information already present on the page. The code impacts search results only, not the display of the content on the page. In the case of Shoes.com, their BazaarVoice reviews implementation includes the structured markup in their CSS files. But it can also be done outside of CSS files.
Rich snippets are a more eye-catching way to visually optimize search results because they tend to include pops of color. However, title tags and meta descriptions can also be optimized to contain long-term offers or calls to action that can increase click through as well. In addition, developers are usually not required to optimize title tags and meta descriptions, making it faster to implement.
In a search result, title tags are typically used as the blue underlined link. Meta descriptions can be used as the black text under the link that describes the page. If the title tag or meta description don’t contain the keywords the customer is searching for, the engines may pull keyword-inclusive text from the page to display in the search result instead, so make sure to use the important keywords for the page in your title tags and meta descriptions.
For example, Heels.com used their title tag and meta description to highlight both the price of the item, which is lower than competitors’, and their free shipping policy. When paired with the video rich snippet in their search result, that’s a very powerful visual combination to influence customers to choose their store over competitors.
Jill Kocher is a seasoned SEO professional and all-around technogeek. By day, she manages Resource Interactive’s SEO practice here in Chicago and serves as contributing editor at Practical eCommerce. By night, Jill landscapes her home in the far northern suburbs of Chicagoland while enjoying a glass of wine and thinking about SEO some more. Family discussion centers primarily around SEO, analytics, social media, mobile apps, android, iOS, how-was-your-day and cats.