Title tags for better clickthrough rates

We spend a lot of time writing and testing headlines on search adverts. Yet search adverts only take a small proportion of the clicks on a search engine results page. The vast majority of clicks go to the ‘natural’, or free listings …and these have relatively little thought put into their headlines. I think that’s starting to change.

With a search advert, if we can write a better headline and get the clickthrough rate up from 1% to 2%, that’s 1 more click from every 100 searches. But if you have a top three position in the natural search results below the ads, you’re probably getting a 20% clickthrough rate. If you can improve that even slightly, by making the title better, the result will be dramatic.

So having banged on for years about the need to ensure every page on your website has a good ‘title’ tag (which is what shows as the headline in the search engine results), it’s time for us all to look at improving what we’ve got. The best way to do this is to sneak in a call to action.

Note that to take control of our ‘title’ tags, we’re going to need to be able to manipulate these manually. Any content management system can do this. If yours automatically generates a title like this:

Blue Widgets | Products | Blue Widget Company

…then it’s time to find out how to override this manually. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

The first thing to do is to write a proper, appealing title, as if you were writing a headline on an advert. So we could change the above to something like:

Blue Widgets from the Blue Widget Company

That’s not great though. Why should people look at your blue widgets? What’s that, you say? They’re faster? Great!

Blue Widgets: new faster designs from the Blue Widget Company

Much better. We could leave it here. But the adventurous will see if they can we squeeze in a call to action too. Something like:

Blue Widgets: new faster Blue Widget Company designs. Read more.

You could also then write a really good description meta tag which works in conjunction with this, although don’t rely on it being shown, unlike the title.

In the end, SEO is about traffic generation, not search engine ranking. It’s better to get a 20% clickthrough rate from position number 3 on the page than 15% from position number 2 …and it is possible.