70% of the search-links that internet users click on are organic. What does this mean for your online presence? It means that your SEO efforts need to focus on the organic listings. A blog helps your website and content show up more often in search engine results. However, the quality of that content is a major factor in where your site shows up on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). But let’s say you’ve got a great blog. You post regularly. You’ve acquired a decent online audience/patient base because of that blog. How do you gain more clicks from users on the SERPs? What factors determine if a qualified user clicks on your competitor’s website link instead of yours, even if you rank higher? Read on to find out!
Why SERP Optimization?
Users are searching for a specific answer or topic to research when using a search engine. In most cases they type a single word called a keyword, or a string of words called a keyword phrase, into whichever search engine they prefer. This process is called a query:
Once the user hits enter, the search engine returns results that are relevant to the user’s query. SERP is an acronym for these returned results: Search Engine Result Page.
On each of these SERPs there are links, URLs, descriptions, and sometimes photos and videos. Each block of information relates to a single page on a website somewhere on the internet. The search engine chooses the pages to show in the SERPs based on the relevance of the pages to the user’s query.
It’s vital to optimize the information in your own SERP listings so when user’s are scanning the SERPs, they can identify keywords the same or similar to their own query.
Where Does Your SERP Listing Information Come From?
Search engines crawl websites to discover what those websites are about. Then, they index the individual pages they find, grabbing a link title, a description, and a URL from each individual page. As a result, when a user queries the search engine, it can provide the user with relevant pages across the internet in a listed format.
You have the opportunity to suggest to the search engines what to show on the SERPs for your website’s pages.
If you have the chance to create positive results, create them!
What Happens If Your Website And Its Pages Are Not Optimized?
In regards to SERPs, search engines will pull what they find relevant from your pages and add that information to the SERP listings for users. Search engines tend to take the H1 and the first 150 words or so from the first paragraph of the page and fill the listing, but that’s not a guarantee. The search engine may pull something entirely different from the selected page to represent it in the organic listings.
Why is this bad? You could be losing qualified users because the link title of your page is way too specific, or it’s way too broad. The link title chosen by the search engine could be misaligned with your marketing efforts.
Search engines don’t know how you’re marketing your services or products, which means allowing the search engine to choose is a gamble. Yes, search engines have general guidelines regarding how they choose the link title and description, but they don’t always follow it exactly.
How To Optimize Your SERP Listings
There are various ways to suggest to search engines what to use for your SERP listings. First, you should understand where each part originates so you can choose which optimization method works best for you and your website.
Link Title (meta title): This is a link atop each organic listing in the SERPs. Earlier in the post, we mentioned that search engines may pull the H1 on your page if you haven’t suggested what they use for the organic listings. The H1 is not the same thing as the title, but it can be used as the title. The title of the page is typically added as a code element in the header for each individual page, via manual input or a plugin.
Page URL: This is the page address you see at the top of your web browser in the URL box on that page. It’s also the second item in any one organic listing. It’s the location of the page on the overall website.
Description (meta description): This is the short string of text below the link title and the URL that should describe the page, create curiosity, or affirm that the user will find what they’re looking for on that page.
You may also see other items in a single organic listing such as a table of various pages from the site, star ratings, hours of operations, etc. This is the result of Schema or the search engines awarding the website with more information due to its superb structural optimization.
How To Optimize Using Plugins
You’ll need to choose a plugin first. We suggest one of the two to start you off in the right direction: All-In-One SEO or Yoast SEO. To use plugins, you’ll need to be using a CMS. MDPM uses and highly recommends WordPress.
Optimizing your page title and description are as simple as editing that page in WordPress and typing in the information:
How To Optimize With Code
The title can simply be added in the header of each individual page using the following code:
If you aren’t using a CMS, you’ll need to add the title and meta information on your own. Below is an example of description code. Add it to the header of the page you’re describing:
Why Users Click On Some Links And Not Others In The SERPs
Imagine you’re searching for something in the organic listings. You type in your keyword or phrase and a list of links, URLs, and descriptions show up as a result, about ten. You see ads at the top and down the right side. You may even find local businesses listed between the ads and the organic listings. But you’re looking for information, so you scroll down to the organic results.
What do you look at first?
Most users look at the words in the links first. They scan for words that match or relate to their query. In most cases, they’ll find 10 links on the first page with exact matches to their keyword, or that match a few words in their entire phrase. This is the first level of assurance that the links on the page are relative to their query.
What do they look at next?
Users tend to glance at the description second. Once they’ve decided on a link to click on, they’ll read what the page is about before they click. If the description correlates with their intent, they will gain a second level of assurance that the page they’re reading about is the right one for them.
And just in case?
If they still haven’t clicked on the link, users tend to examine the actual URL shown for the page that’s between the link title and the description. Why? They’re triple checking that the page is what they want.
Although most of this happens within a few seconds, it’s vital to reassure the user that your page is the one they want to click on to find the information or answer they’re searching for.
This is their third level of assurance that any one or few links will answer their question or provide relevant information.
Checking Your Work
An immediate check on your work can be completed by visiting the page you’ve updated, right clicking, and selecting “view page source.”
A new tab will open with a wall of code. If you press ctrl+f on Windows or cmnd+f on Mac, you can type in <title> to find the title section. You can also type in <meta name=”description”> to find the sentence or two you’ve added for your description of the page.
Side Note: The meta information on a website does not directly affect its rankings. However, indirect affects do warrant the continued use of meta titles and descriptions for all of your pages. It’s what shows up in the SERPs. It’s absolutely necessary.
If you want to check to see if the search engine is issuing your newly updated title and description, type the following into your search engine of choice: info:yourwebsite.com.
You will find that after the search engine has crawled/recrawled the pages you’ve updated, they will update their own database to match the suggested title and description you offered them. In most cases, they’ll take the info you suggest. In some cases they won’t. If the search engine doesn’t use your information, you’ll need to request an indexing from the search engine or wait for them to update it as they find your site again.
Is A Website Ever Finished?
No internet marketing effort is ever finished. The effort is dynamic and ongoing. Blog posts, website updates, and social media outreach are an ever changing, engaging process. Stagnant is the enemy when it comes to your presence online, which means your website is never finished. It’s continuously updated to meet your qualified users’ needs.
Relevance is vital when it comes to showing up in the SERPs for user queries, which means your title and page content need to align to answer a question, provide information, or offer entertainment to the user. If the link and page are relevant, you’ve gained interest from a potential patient. These potential patients, if enough trust is gained via your site and online marketing efforts, will turn into a patient. And one of the ultimate goals with an online presence as a dentist is to gain patients.