Tag Archives: SEO

Do you know you can improve your CTR by 200% by tweaking your title?

Improve your CTR with web page and blog post titles

Improve your CTR with web page and blog post titles

Your web page and blog post titles are very important. I have lost a new client who insisted that I create titles for his blog posts for the same amount he was paying for writing the blog posts. The titles are so important that I charge extra for coming up with them.

Your web page and blog post titles are so important that they come under content marketing and content strategy because they can pretty much define the direction of your entire content marketing approach.

What are your title tags and why they are important?

Although your page heading and title tags can be the same, they can also be different. The heading is something that you enclose within <h1> and </h1>.

The title tag is something that you enclose within <head><title></title></head>.

Both are important. It is your heading, or the headline that hooks people to your web page or blog post when they come to your link. But, on search engine result pages, it is your title tag that matters.

It is your title tag that appears as a hyperlink when people search for your business:

Web page title as hyperlink in search results

Web page title as hyperlink in search results

Your web page and blog post titles are not just important for CTR (click-through ratio), they are also important for your SEO.

Google re-ranks your content according to your CTR. If your appearance in the search results does not attract many clicks, Google lowers your ranking for that link. If it attracts more clicks, it increases your rank for that link.

This blog post on Seige Media gives an in-depth analysis of how to test which web page and blog post titles perform the best through A/B testing, with the help of Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmasters Tools). The writer also says that if you improve your title, you can experience a click-through increase of 20-200%.

Good web page titles can increase your CTR by 20-200%

Good web page titles can increase your CTR by 20-200%

A/B testing, as explained in the above link, can be a time-consuming exercise but it is worth your effort if you really want to make sure that you create optimized web page and blog post titles for maximum CTR.

It basically involves

  • coming up with the best title you can think of in the beginning,
  • publishing your web page or blog post with that title,
  • and noting down when your link begins to appear in the search results.

This is assuming that you are using Google Search Console to track your search engine appearance and your clicks.

Let things happen for two weeks.

Start noting down values such as number of clicks, click-through ratio and impressions for that particular link in the past two weeks.

Then, change the title and resubmit the link. Make sure the link has appeared in the search results.

Repeat the above process after two weeks.

This way you can create a detailed analysis of how various titles perform.

How do you write web page titles and blog post titles for maximum CTR?

Aside from the main keywords in the search terms that you should use within your title, the intent is also very important. What moves people to click your link?

The most commonsensical way of knowing what matters the most to people is, addressing their main concern within the title.

If you are looking for a blog writing service, then obviously something about a blog writing service is going to attract you towards a certain link.

But you are not just looking for a blog writing service, you are looking for a blog writing service that can help your business in a certain way.

This is where longtail keyword optimization can help you. Try to pack as much information as possible without making things too complicated.

“Blog writing service” may get me a good CTR, but “blog writing service for my car repair service” may get me even better CTR.

So, if people have a question, provide an answer. If people have a problem, provide a solution. If someone asks for “how many?”, give him or her “these many”.

Neil Patel suggests that you can use emojis in your titles to improve your CTR. This is something I didn’t know. Of course, if all the links on the search engine result page are without emojis and there is a single link that is with emojis, people will tend to click it.

Neil also suggests that mention numbers when you are creating titles for your blog posts and web pages.

“77% increase in CTR after this” gets more clicks than “awesome increase in CTR after this”.

Be more specific when writing titles

Be more specific when writing titles

This Hubspot blog post on creating web page and blog post titles people cannot resist clicking suggests that you make your titles very specific. For example, if your web page contains an interview, then mention it somewhere in the title. If it contains a podcast or infographic, mention it. The post claims that titles that contain specific information that says exactly what the web page or the blog post contains get 38% more clicks than those titles that don’t.

The Hubspot post also has some rules of thumb on how to come up with clickable titles. Even small things matter.

Some title formats that always work

“How to” titles seem to work quite well, especially with search engine and social media users:

“How I increased my website traffic by 200% with just this simple SEO trick”

The title clearly tells that you are going to reveal what SEO trick you used that increase your traffic by 200%. Such titles draw lots of clicks.

“10 ways you can sell your old mobile phone online within 24 hours”

“Painstakingly learnt 25 content marketing lessons that are 100% failsafe”

“If this method doesn’t give you an 8-hour peaceful sleep, nothing will”

“Why” and “how” seem to do quite well because they trigger a sense of curiosity and also provide some valuable information in a concrete form.

Conclusion

Your web page and blog post titles need to cater to a strong desire, or need. They should also give concrete information. Something like “Get 1500 leads in 3 weeks” will always be more convincing than “Get more leads faster”.

Is there a definitive way of ranking in Google’s featured snippets

Ranking in Google’s featured snippets is one of the best ways of getting a ton of traffic to your website, provided you get ranked for the right keywords and there is another link of yours appearing somewhere on the same page.

Nobody knows exactly why Google decides to rank your link. I have had some success getting some of my links ranked in this section; for example, look at this:

credible-content-showing-up-in-Google-snippets

This blog post contains lots of statistics and graphs to show how many more links Google has started including in the featured snippets section and how much more traffic these featured links draw from Google compared to those links that are not featured.

What are  upchart showing how many links are included in the featured snippets of Google

Google’s featured snippets

Just like any other content-based platform, Google is constantly coming up with ways to present relevant content attractively as well as purposefully.

Since more than 99% of the times people are asking questions and looking for useful information on Google, it makes sense that when Google feels that a particular answer satisfies a particular question, that answer is featured as a snippet.

As you can see in the above image (from my website), the featured snippet stands out compared to other links on the search results page.

You don’t get snippets all the time. Snippets are usually triggered by queries that contain, “what is”, “how is” or “how much”.

A relevant part of the text is picked from your link and featured in the snippets section. It is like, while analyzing the question asked by the search engine user, Google finds the traces of the right answer on your link, picks up the relevant portion, and then puts it in the featured snippets section.

Many webmasters believe that being featured in Google’s featured snippets can be counter-productive because then the search engine users have no reason to visit the link.

It depends. It can also increase the chances of the search engine users visiting your website more if they like the answer presented in the snippet. A big part of your answer appearing in the snippet also makes a strong impression on search engine users because they think that if Google is highlighting your answer then your link must have relevant information.

Is there a way you can get your links ranked and featured in the Google featured snippets section?

Over the years since Google started featuring links in this section various SEO experts and content marketers have been trying to figure out how to pinpoint the qualities or attributes that get your link featured in the section.

Ahref has done a comprehensive study on how many links are being featured in the snippets section on exactly what are the benefits of getting featured there.

The Ahref study has found that there is a decline in the number of clicks when your link is featured in the snippets section.

image chart showing that the CTR declines for the snippet-featured links

You can see in the above graphic that when a link is featured in the snippets section it gets approximately only 8.6% of clicks but when it is not featured it gets 19.6%.

It proves the apprehension of some webmasters that if your link is listed in the snippets section then people have less motivation to click it because they have already found the information they are looking for.

If I can remember my own search pattern I think I agree with this conclusion. Sometimes when I’m looking for an answer and when I find the answer in the featured snippets section, there is no reason for me to visit the actual link or, it prompts me to visit another link because I don’t seem to be able to find the right answer within the snippet.

But there is another finding in the same above Ahref link: the overall clicks on the remaining links appearing below the featured snippets link tend to fall down.

This might be because Google has become so efficient in digging out the appropriate answer and featuring it on the snippets section that after having viewed the snippet, users have no reason to check the other links.

On the other hand, detailed analysis of Google’s featured snippets on this link shows that if the link that appears in the featured section is followed by another link from your website, the CTR increases tremendously, sometimes by a whopping 516%.

How to make your content appear in the Google’s featured snippets section

Most of the SEO websites suggest that there is no definitive way of ranking in Google’s featured snippets section, but still, there is a pattern that emerges as more and more people study it.

which words in the query make it easier to rank in Google featured snippets section

Personally, I wouldn’t advise you to go crazy about getting your content featured in the snippets section. What matters the most is, what benefit you derive out of the various positions you get on the search engine result page.

Anyway, if you want to get featured there, you should take some clue from the way people ask questions on Quora.

You can follow the same pattern while writing content for your own website.

Create your blog posts, articles and web pages in QA form: ask a question in the title of your link and then provide an answer in the body text.

Remember that Google should be able to find a complete answer to the query submitted by the search engine user. The answer to this query can manifest in the form of

  • A small paragraph that can fit into a snippet
  • A bullet list of different parts of the answer
  • Data presented in a tabular format

As you can see in the featured snippet from my own website, it is a paragraph.

The text taken for the Google’s featured snippet can appear anywhere in your body text. Just make sure that the words contained within the question also appear within the text that you would like to present as a snippet candidate.

Of course, the usual conditions need to exist, such as, you should already be enjoying good or comparatively better search engine rankings. Your links should already be ranking for you to appear in Google’s featured snippets section.

So, if you want to publish content specifically for the featured snippets section, first focus on improving your general SEO

How content marketing actually improves your SEO

content marketing improves SEO

Content marketing and SEO are intertwined these days.

Ever since Google released the Panda and Penguin updates people have come to understand that SEO doesn’t just mean using the right keywords while writing content.

Although keywords are important, they are not the sole factors in determining your search engine rankings, the way they used to be 10 odd years ago.

Somewhere along, Google realized that it had to crowdsource its ranking algorithms. Merely depending on the machines was open to exploitation.

Hence, social validation and acceptance of your content became as important as the way you used the keywords.

These days, your search engine rankings depend on

  • The overall quality of your content
  • The ease of reading
  • The number of people sharing your content on social media and social networking websites
  • The number of people linking to your website or individual links
  • The relevance of your content
  • The bounce rate on your website or blog
  • The number of times you update and refresh your content

Although Google (and other major search engines) don’t let people know how actually the search engine ranking algorithms work, the above-mentioned attributes of your content can ensure an improved SEO.

As you can see, a big part of your search engine rankings depends on how people perceive your content.

Google has incorporated these attributes because even if you can use black hat SEO tactics to trick the machines, it is practically impossible to trick humans.

Therefore, SEO these days depends a lot on content marketing.

Why SEO and content marketing are interconnected

The basic nature of content marketing is, publishing high-quality content and then making sure that people who need to access that content, can easily access it.

Read Can content marketing improve your SEO?

Once you have published high-quality content and made it easy for people to access it, since people these days love to share content on social media and social networking websites, they start sharing your content too.

The beauty of this is, they won’t share your content if they don’t find it useful.

If they don’t like your content, your content will not earn social validation.

You may find it nagging that you always have to publish and then distribute high-quality content for better SEO, but look at it logically…very few business owners can publish content that can earn social validation.

If you can improve your SEO with better content marketing, it creates a level-playing field for everyone.

People cannot force their way into better search engine rankings simply because they can spend more money.

SEO these days is not about quantity.

It’s about quality.

And quality comes with knowledge, wisdom, experience, and a strong desire to keep your prospective customers informed and educated.

Well-executed content marketing automatically improves your search engine rankings.

As mentioned above, content marketing can succeed only when you publish valuable content, content that people appreciate.

When you focus on your core topic, you are naturally creating content around your keywords.

Content marketing means providing compelling content on an ongoing basis.

The more you refine your content marketing the better focused you are when publishing useful content.

Being better focused means, focusing on the right questions and the right answers.

Content marketing also means making your content available on all possible distribution channels, which means more people can access your content.

When people can access your content there is a greater possibility of them sharing your content and linking to it from their own websites and blogs.

So, all the steps that you follow to execute a good content marketing strategy, are also the steps needed to improve your SEO.

Better SEO means publishing relevant content in as friendly a manner as possible.

Better SEO also means a greater number of people responding to your content and linking to it.

Consequently, better content marketing means improved SEO.

Google’s Featured Snippets: How to rank at #1 with strategic content writing

Google-featured-snippets

I was checking the rankings of my blog posts that I have recently published and I suddenly found one of my links in Google’s Featured Snippets box. Here is the screenshot

credible-content-showing-up-in-Google-snippets

What Are Google’s Featured Snippets?

Nobody knows exactly how Google decides to feature a particular piece of content in its “featured snippets” box, but you must have noticed that sometimes when you do a search on Google, one of the links appears at the top with highlighted paragraph, or some portion of the web page or blog post, along with the link.

Some call it ranking #0 because the link that is featured in Google’s Featured Snippets box appears even before the first link on the search results page. But many would be scared with #0 so, in my title I have used #1.

As you can see in the image above, the Google’s Featured Snippets box appears at the top, within the highlighted box, and a description almost as long as a paragraph.

It isn’t always a paragraph that is featured in the snippets area. Even if you represent the information in bullet points, it can appear over there. See for example, this one…

another example of Google snippets

How does Google pick a particular link for the Featured Snippets box?

As I have written above, it is unclear how Google decides which link to feature in the snippets area. Many SEO experts and content marketers have tried to figure out but there is no algorithmic logic to it. Google seems to be picking the information randomly.

Here is a very extensive blog post on how to optimize your content so that it can feature in Google’s Featured Snippets box [HubSpot link].

The author says that whether you get featured in the snippets box or not doesn’t depend on the SEO quality of your link. Your link may not even appear on the first page of search results and still appear in the snippets box.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that even if you throw all SEO benchmarks out the window you are still going to feature in the snippets box. No, that won’t happen. Your content must be of good quality and it must give some indication to Google that it deserves to be featured in the snippets box. Read What is quality content and how does Google recognize it?

Is focusing on the Google Featured Snippets box good for your SEO?

People are sometimes worried that featuring in the Google Featured Snippets box deters people from clicking the link because what they are looking for is given in the box itself. Since they have found a solution to their problem, there is no reason for them to click the link.

The author of the above HubSpot link says:

From a sample of just under 5,000 queries, I found that the CTR to the HubSpot website for high volume keywords increased by over 114%, even when we ranked #1

What he means to say is that even when their link was already appearing at #1 there CTR increased by over 114% once the link started appearing in the Featured Snippets box.

Even I feel that this should actually increase traffic to your website because one, people who know how important search engine rankings are, are quite impressed that you are bang there in front of them, at the top, even above the link at #1, and two, they want more information. A single paragraph may provide a concise view of the solution they are looking for. They can only find a detailed description when they visit the link. Most do.

Here is a Moz link that demonstrates that traffic to your website actually increases if your link features in that box.

How to write content for #1 ranking by Google’s Featured Snippets?

As I have mentioned in this blog post titled 20 Evergreen Characteristics of Quality Content, focus on quality.

Provide to people what they are looking for. Don’t mislead them. Don’t create titles and headlines in such a manner that people are tricked into visiting your website and then when they come there, they are disappointed.

In fact, due to the “Search Task Accomplishment” factor, web pages and blog posts that don’t provide straightforward answers to people’s questions will start ranking lower even when they are decently optimized and even when they have quality back links. It matters what you are providing.

In order to be able to feature in Google’s Featured Snippets box, it has been observed that

  1. Try to create a question out of the main expression and put that question within the <h1> or <h2> tags.
  2. Try to enclose the main quarry by the user in the above tags.
  3. Just beneath the question, provide an answer. Try to provide the answer within 50-60 words.
  4. Use the language as if you are providing an answer to a question. Your answer should follow the question naturally.
  5. For question-oriented keywords, Google prefers bullet points but if you are searching for something like “content writing services”, Google prefers to pick a paragraph.

Focus on answering questions when writing content keeping Featured Snippets in mind. Ask a question, and then immediately provide an answer, preferably in 50-60 words.

Does this guarantee that your link will appear in the Featured Snippets box? No.

It is quite random.

Then how can you get your link featured in this coveted section?

Create lots of content. Create many webpages and blog posts providing high-quality content.

You have to establish your authority. Many of your links should already be ranking well before Google begins to notice useful chunks of information on your web pages and blog posts. You cannot suddenly start publishing blog posts and then expect that your links will be featured in the snippets section.

Follow the pattern. Follow the SEO format that includes

  1. Use the main search term or the keyword at least once within <h1>, <h2> and <h3> tags.
  2. Write shorter paragraphs under the headings and try to provide as complete an answer as possible to the main quarry within 40-60 words in a paragraph.
  3. Use bullet points wherever possible to present stepwise information.

I would like to stress again that there is no set formula for appearing in Google’s Featured Snippet box. All you can do is, keep publishing great content.

Can content marketing improve your SEO?

can-content-marketing-improve-your-SEOMany businesses are attracted towards content marketing because they think that it will improve their SEO. Is it true? Does content marketing really improve your SEO?

Yes, it does. Strategic content marketing definitely improves your SEO.

Better SEO is a byproduct of efficient and persistent content marketing.

What do you do when you use content marketing to promote your business?

  • You publish content that helps your visitors.
  • Your content provides answers to questions your customers and clients seek.
  • You are continuously providing content to search engine crawlers to crawl, index and rank.
  • By promoting your content using all available channels you earn social validation for your website (which is used by search engines to rank your website).
  • You are continuously using your keywords and key phrases to generate content.
  • The more quality content you publish the greater are the chances that other websites will link back to you.

If you notice, all these content marketing tactics are exactly the things you need to do to improve your SEO.

How content marketing improves your SEO

Search engines like Google and Bing are all about content. When people use these search engines your landing pages and the main website rarely show up. It’s your content pages and blog posts that show up in the search results. The entire process of content marketing is such that it automatically improves your SEO.

Take for example Google. What does Google consider to rank your individual webpages?

  • The overall quality and relevance of your content.
  • The keyword and key phrases that you have used in the title, in the body text and in the headlines.
  • The contextual analysis of your content.
  • The number of external websites linking to your content.
  • The number of social shares of your content.
  • The overall quality and quantity of your website or blog.

All these can only be achieved through content marketing.

This is how content marketing improves your SEO

  • You publish relevant content that solves your customers’ and clients’ problems.
  • You publish content on an ongoing basis so that you are constantly feeding the search engines with good quality content (this alone improves your SEO).
  • Strategic content marketing makes you create content around your relevant keywords and key phrases consistently, increasing your overall website keyword density.
  • Since you are creating valuable content, it is often shared on social networking websites, providing validation, which further improves your SEO.
  • When you publish quality content that is relevant and helps people, other websites and blogs link to your content, again contributing to your SEO.
  • Improved SEO makes it easier for people to find your content, link to it, share it and talk about it, further improving your SEO.

Your average SEO agency may beg to differ, good content marketing automatically leads to an improved SEO.

Are there times when content marketing doesn’t improve your SEO?

Although I repeatedly stress on my website that good content marketing always improves your SEO there can be instances when content marketing does not improve your SEO.

To understand why sometimes content marketing may not lead to improved SEO you first need to understand what is content marketing and what is SEO.

What is content marketing?

In layman’s terms, content marketing is publishing lots of useful, relevant content that helps your customers and clients so that they begin to trust you and readily do business with you. Content marketing includes

  • Publishing quality content on a consistent basis.
  • Using social networking channels to distribute your content.
  • Publishing content on all available channels so that it becomes easier to come across your business name, brand or your own name.

This is the basic crux of content marketing. Read more on What is content marketing? Explained in detail.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization. The concept is as old as search engines themselves. SEO means creating content so that it’s easier for search engines to

  • Find it
  • Crawl it
  • Index it
  • Rank it higher compared to other links for your desired keywords

The last point is the most important to people who are trying to improve their SEO. They want their content to be found, on the first page, for their preferred keywords. Keywords and key phrases are the most important when it comes to improving your SEO. If your content is being found for all the wrong reasons, it doesn’t help you.

This is very important: your content needs to be found for the right keywords and search terms. Read more on What is Organic SEO?

Content marketing can exist without giving you SEO benefits

This is because you can create quality content without using your keywords. You can use heavy images and complicated JavaScript on your website so that it’s very difficult for the search engine crawlers to crawl your content despite the content being of exceptional quality.

For an improved SEO the source code of your website matters a lot. The source code of your website should be in such a way that it makes it easier for search engines to access your content as soon as possible. The crawlers shouldn’t have to sift through a ton of gibberish before it can reach your main content.

When you don’t use proper tags, when you don’t hyperlink to your relevant pages using the right anchor text, when you don’t have a site map, when the other websites linking to your content don’t use the right anchor text, you don’t get much SEO benefit from your content marketing.

When does content marketing improve your SEO?

Your content marketing can be exceptional but you also need to help search engines crawl, index and rank your content, either from your own website, or external websites.

Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to help your content marketing improve your SEO:

  • Do comprehensive keyword research – create a long list of keywords and key phrases that your customers and clients are likely to use when trying to look for your service.
  • Without overdoing it, use your keywords and key phrases while creating and publishing your content.
  • People these days normally use questions on the search engines, so provide answers to these questions.
  • Don’t use lots of JavaScript, at least in the beginning of your webpages and blog posts. If using JavaScript is unavoidable, use it in such a manner that you include the JavaScript code at the end of your webpages and blog posts.
  • Try to follow W3C guidelines to create an accessible website because an accessible website automatically improves your SEO on the technical side.
  • Use proper tags like h1, h2, h3, ul, li, etc. to organize your content.
  • Get quality back links to your website on the strength of your quality content.

Although quality content marketing in itself improves your SEO, you just saw above that good content marketing can exist without giving you any SEO benefits. But if you maintain a website or blog that doesn’t stop the search engine crawlers from accessing your main content as early as possible, then persistent content marketing definitely improves your SEO.