Conduct your own traffic

You’ve invested hours into searching for the right keywords, inserting the best values for your meta tags, and writing the best title tags possible, but you’re still not quite sure if it’ll come out the way you want it?

The best way to know for sure is to check the search engine results yourself in the SERP. Ummm, what’s a SERP?

The Search Engine Results Page

The page that is displayed upon a keyword query is the SERP. It’s the resulting list of choices after you google say, “New Mustang convertible”.

How the SERP (page) is structured

Navi

In Google the SERP has a navigation bar at the top to refine the search (images, shopping, videos) and an approximate count of search results (in this case, 14M) before heading straight into featured content or ads.

AdWords Ads

Ads are denoted with the green-hued “ad” frame before the proper url listing. Advertisements are commonly called AdWords (the Google brand of pay-per-click.) Advertisers pay money to be featured in this section. Only 4-6% of the traffic goes to ads though.

Google My Business- Local Listings

After the advertisements you will find the Google Map section where local businesses are ranked based on an abundance of 5-star reviews (extracted from Google Reviews), complete profile information, and loads of relevant photos. The Google Map or Google My Business section is like Google’s version of Yelp and is one of the best yielding SEO strategies for local businesses.

Organic Listings

Next, you’ll find the “organic” listings. These listings are ranked highly by Google (highly enough to reach the first page of search results) based purely on the site’s reputation (domain authority), quantity of relevant content, and the quality of the content. Organic listings are more trusted, more popular, and generally more relevant thus receiving 94% of the click-throughs. Now ask yourself, “If I had searched-up Mustangs, which of these entries would I choose to continue my search?”

The url listings tell you that you’d be going directly to Ford, the manufacturer, or to Car and Driver, a reputable periodical. There’s more information here too. Are you interested in the 2017 model or excited to see what’s happening in 2018?

The individual SERP listing is like a plea to come and visit. Let’s break it down.

Dissecting the SERP entry

An individual entry is made up of three main components: Title, Meta description, and url.

Title

The title is extracted from the page title of the website (this does not display on your webpage but appears in the tab of your web page.) Remember title tags should include: content that encourages clicks, relevant information to the page, and strong keywords. Many times, the Title is broken into 2 parts divided by a “pipe” which looks like this:

Ford Mustang Prices, Reviews and Pictures | U.S. News & World Report

The first half of the title is full of keywords relevant to the search terms. The second half often names the source of the information, especially if the source is super-credible.

The optimal length for page titles is 50-60 characters. According to Moz SEO tools, 90% of titles will display correctly under 60 characters.

Meta Description

Meta descriptions are the snippets that tease people to click on your listing. There are no hard and fast rules. Consider why people have searched a term. Are they researching, looking to purchase, something else? And then give them what they want to cause a visit.

  • Use relevant keywords,
  • describe your page content with great accuracy
  • consider a strong call to action,
  • stay under 320 characters
  • make your meta description unique compared to its competitors

URL

Very simply, the URL of the page gets pulled-in to the snippet, so the searcher can see his destination.

Rich Snippets

Besides the 3-part formula for your search result entry, you can really get your listing to stand-out if you add “structured data” to your site. Things like dates, prices, photos that are structured for search engines to read, cause the search engines to display extra bits of information that make your listing stand-out. Here you’ll see the rating, a photo, calorie count and more.

“Keyword bolding” will show your keywords in bold lettering, the same way a regular search result would show. “Add date” will put the date of the content in the search result—people like current info. ‘Show rich snippet’ displays ratings and prices on your search result.

Note: SERP results are always served up differently. For instance, Google may compile a Local Knowledge Panel to display popular information on a search subject:

How do I know what my SERP entry will look like?

A Google preview SERP tool gives you a prediction on how your web page would look in Google’s search results, which gives you an advantage when creating your titles, meta tags, and structured data.

There are dozens of websites that provide this valuable tool for those wanting to improve SEO. You can customize your result page to your liking, making sure that the important content gets pumped out and catching the eyes of searchers. It’s a traffic-building super-power.

  • Find a SERP preview tool for free online.
  • Test your previews on different website pages.
  • Use important keywords to see how your competitors display listings in the SERP.
  • See more weblog entries on writing titles and meta descriptions to improve your SERP super-power
Sarah Bryant

Sarah Bryant

COO

Sarah is an awesome person, and we need to make this description do justice to how awesome she is. Sarah is an awesome person, and we need to make this description do justice to how awesome she is.