Two basic elements will increase your blog or site’s traffic from Google organic searches:
- Organic positioning: obviously the higher you rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs) the more likely you will get clicks and traffic. Some studies have indicated that there’s a precipitous 90% drop in traffic from the #1 organic position to the bottom of the first page. But I’m not focusing in this post on organic positioning, but rather on effective Title and Meta Descriptions.
- Title and Description: What the search engines show in the SERPs are your Title and Meta Description. See below screen shot which is a SERP for a Google organic query for a law firm in San Diego.
The content in the SERPs (Title and Meta Description) is an advertisement — DON’T squander that opportunity by not optimizing the Title tag and Meta Description on each page for your potential customer. This is your chance to entice people; your chance to introduce your brand, to make a sale, to hook the customer.
Correct Title and Meta Description Length
So what’s wrong with the snippet above in the #1 position?
- Truncated Title tag and Meta Description. Google truncated the company’s message in both the Title tag and the Meta Description. Neither of these listings were able to get a unique value proposition in there, an offer, nor a call to action (CTA) — that’s a big lost opportunity.
Why? Both are too long. And when they’re too long Google will either truncate your message, or worse yet, it may substitute what you wrote with something it finds more appropriate on the page and that which more effectively aligns with the searcher’s query — which means you lost control of your brand and messaging! Imagine if you wrote an ad for a newspaper or magazine and the publisher decided to truncate your headline or sub-headline, or worse yet, write their own!
So how do you avoid this?
You have to write shorter Title tags and Meta Descriptions. What’s the recommended length you ask?
- Title tag: Limited to 70 characters with spaces.
- Meta Description: between 139 and 156 characters with spaces (read more about optimal length here.)
Writing Titles and Descriptions that are the write length is only half the battle. Let’s analyze what could be improved from a human conversion perspective.
Powerful Conversion Elements of the Title and Meta Description
How can you write the TItle and Meta Description so people are more likely to click through?
Let’s start with the Title tag:
The title tag is ok in this example; it’s clear they are optimizing for “San Diego Law Firm”, so that’s ok, and they’re notifying us they’re a “full service business law” firm and clearly trying to rank for that phrase too, so that’s alright. But the last part is the branded company name…now that I’m not so happy about.
I’m not a big fan of adding your branded company name because if someone knows you they’re going to search for your name and you’ll rank for it, and most likely your brand does not have so much equity with potential customers that it’s going to overwhelmingly entice people to click through to your site.
So here’s what I’d change:
they’d be better off with a CTA such as, “Call Now!” Never mind the fact they don’t have the room for their company name anyway, but they do for a short call-to-action.
Let’s move on to the Meta Description:
Aside from being too long also and having the message truncated, there’s no unique selling propositions (USP), no differentiators, nothing really that would make me want to necessarily click that listing over the next listing. For differentiators and USPs, imagine if you polled your top customers and asked them, what’s most important to you when making a decision about a law firm? Do you think the majority would say having 120 lawyers is going to make me click? Perhaps it has the opposite effect because you know if you’re a smaller client you’ll get passed on to a junior lawyer. I doubt listing the number of lawyers is going to help get any more traffic.
What about, “…one of the largest business law firms….” If you polled potential clients would they say being one of the largest law firms is a key deciding factor for them? I doubt it. Does anyone go to Starbucks because it’s the largest coffee chain? No, they go to Starbucks because of quality and consistency. Do you choose your airline because it is the largest? Do you buy anything because it’s the largest in its category?
And again because you are “large” perhaps potential customers might think they’ll just get passed along to junior lawyers. The only reason to ever emphasize size is if your customers have told you it’s important. I can’t remember the last time I made a decision to hire someone based solely on the fact that they were “one of the largest” of anything.
So here’s how to approach re-writing this: ask yourself what are the most important criteria to my customers in their decision making process? What concerns do they have that would stop them from purchasing? What hurdles are there in the purchase process that could stop my customers from buying?
Here’s how I might re-write it:
Need an experienced San Diego business law firm? We’re a full-service firm that protects your company’s assets & helps you grow. Free Consult. Call us!
So I re-wrote this with a question — I like questions because people feel compelled to answer them. Then assuming full-service is something potential clients are searching for we add that in along with two other potential value propositions, “…protects your company’s assets” and “…helps you grow…” — people don’t want to lose what they have, and they want more money (growth). Customers always want to know what’s in it for them. And finally, we lower the barrier for an initial phone call by mentioning, “Free Consult”, and always finish it with a CTA.
So to summarize:
- Write the correct length or you won’t even be in the game.
- Write from the perspective of your potential customers:Work in your keywords
- Include offers, value propositions, benefits (not features), etc.
- Add a CTA: tell the customer what you want them to do next.
- And if you’re writing for an ecommerce site, reduce perceived risk (e.g., money back guarantee)