In the fast-moving online marketing realm, marketers must constantly find new ways to stand out in organic search rankings. Everyone knows that building links to your website is the strong way to impact your search engine rankings, but what else can you do to gain visibility?
Here are four things you can do to stand out in a Google search page full of text and links.
- Use Google Sitelinks
You’ve likely noticed by now that major corporations often have indented links beneath the page description in search results. These links, as demonstrated here, offer to take customers directly to certain pages of your site, such as your locations, hours, directions, or company history. Google explains that the process is automated, giving instructions on demoting a site link a business doesn’t want prominently displayed with no advice on how to make sitelinks happen when they aren’t.
There are, however, things you can do to make the algorithms happy, thus boosting the chance that your site will be deemed eligible for sitelinks. You’ll first need a Webmaster Tools account, followed by creating a sitemap for Google to index. While there is no way you can control which pages of your site appear in your sitelinks, you can use the above-linked tips from Google to demote a page once you see it appearing there.
- Use Unique Page Titles
In search engine marketing, the page title is very important. A user will often glance over the top few results to find desired information, going primarily by page titles since they show up most prominently. When naming your page or article, consider the types of search a customer would initiate to find you. If you’re a local business, try to work your city name and the type of work your business does (i.e.: Seattle plumbers) into your title. A title like “Smith Brothers Plumbing – Seattle’s Best Plumbers” or “Smith Brothers Plumbing – Serving All of Seattle” will be more likely to drive clicks than just the business name itself.
One mistake many businesses make is in not fully utilizing page titles. You can easily squeeze in up to 55 characters, with Google usually only truncating after 65. Don’t leave out articles (a, an, the, etc.) in the interest of fitting in more characters, since this will make your page title seem unnatural. Make sure your URL is keyword rich, with each word separated by a hyphen or dash, containing the critical keywords you’re targeting in your content marketing.
- Write Current Content
Since search results are text-based, dates catch attention. When an article appears in search results, a date is generally displayed beneath the URL, kicking off the page description. When consumers are looking for information on a topic, chances are your article from 2009 won’t be as interesting as another one that appears with a more recent date. Don’t simply rest on the content you created several years ago to build your business. Continue to stock your blog and guest blog on topics in your area of expertise to better reach out to your customer base.
In choosing content, consider the types of questions your potential customers will have when turning to Google. The aforementioned plumber might notice many customers have questions about how to unclog a toilet. An article titled “How to Unclog a Toilet” or “3 Steps to Unclog a Toilet” would be a great way to those searching for that information on Google. This might not improve your ability to reach local consumers right away, but the high number of clicks will help your website gain credibility, which will also improve your visibility when someone searches for a local business.
- Include Videos
For the time being, videos are still showing up as thumbnails in some search results. Google has reportedly been experimenting with replacing the thumbnail with a small play button, so this might not be a permanent change. But for now, adding videos to your content may mean a thumbnail shows up next to your page description. Make sure the video is paused rather than auto-playing to avoid annoying your visitors. Today’s web users are often coming to your page via a mobile device, sometimes while in public. Chances are, your site visitors won’t be able to watch your video anyway, and the sound will merely be seen as a disruption to everyone nearby.
However, many businesses have found that getting that thumbnail displayed in search results isn’t as easy as simply embedding a video on a page. There are definitive steps you’ll need to take as a sitemaster to make sure your video registers with Google, including using Open Graph and uploading a video sitemap. Your thumbnail may eventually be replaced by a play button, but even that will stand out in a page full of text-based search results.