9 Tricks For Local Businesses To Increase Their SERP Click-Through Rate

Sometimes you can move the needle — and dramatically — outside of obsessing and laboring over obtaining improving rankings in search engines.

Simply increasing your click-through rates on the organic rankings you’ve already achieved can increase sales and revenue, even without having to do some of the difficult things that could be necessary to inch up the ladder to the next position. Here are 9 tricks to help you do it!

Click Through Rate

(Ripple photo by Roger McLassus. CC BY-SA 3.0)

1. Adjust Your Homepage Title To Be More Magnetic For Clicks

The title is typically shown as the link text for your webpage when displayed in the SERPs. If it only reflects your business name without mentioning the main thing you do or sell, adding your main product name or service could help better convey that you are what the consumer is seeking.

Reinforcing the topic that a consumer is likely searching for will often result in more click-throughs. For example, “Mr. Smith’s Shop” doesn’t covey much, but “Mr. Smith’s Shop — Men’s Clothing & Suits of Atlanta, GA” does.

You’d think this approach would be obvious, but businesses neglect informing people as to what they are all the time — even in their street signage! (To that end, it should go without saying that titles should be individualized, descriptive and unique on each page of your site.)

2. Add A Sales Proposition To The Meta Description

Your meta description is brief text that’s often selected by search engines for the descriptive snippet appearing under your links in the results.

Most companies use a very bland description of themselves for this or describe the page contents further. The bland, simple description is the best approach in many cases, but review carefully: if your title already describes the page content or subject, repeating that information it may be unnecessary and a waste of your limited billboard space.

Instead, perhaps mention a special offer such as a discount or desirable differentiator that sets you apart from your main competitor. Some years ago, a major online retailer used to highlight “FREE SHIPPING” in their meta description, driving up their CTR tremendously! Other examples:

  • “15% New Customer Discount”
  • “Free Car Wash with Oil Change”
  • “Coupon for $5 Off”
  • “No Hidden Fees”

In fact, if your main product price is less than the competition, put that actual price in your meta description! Example listings from Vistastores.com:

Guarantees, Prices or Shipping in Meta Descriptions

3. Change Your Snippets To Be Seasonally Appropriate!

This is in a similar vein to adding a sales proposition to the snippet, and ideally could be combined with that concept to produce a double whammy!

There are recurring seasonal events that may tie closely with your business. If a searcher sees a seasonal, relevant message when you show up in search, they can feel that you’re on a wavelength they share, making them more inclined to gravitate towards your business.

Consider this if your business ties in with things like Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, July 4th, Back-To-School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays or observances. Example seasonal snippet from Arcadia Flower Shop:

Seasonal Message Meta Description

This tip can be tricky to pull off, since it relies upon search engines recrawling your pages in a timely manner.

Keep up with the typical frequency of recrawling so you can update in advance, and if Google and Bing are too slow at updating you may need to pursue some preparatory SEO work to achieve more regular spider visits. This could be well worth the effort; however, since this tactic could be a veritable secret weapon for beating your competition!

Eyetracking heatmap study from

Perception and Understanding of Social Annotations in Web Search by Jennifer Fernquist and Ed H. Chi, Google internal research.

4. Add Your Smiling Face To Your Page’s Listing!

I’ve harped on this multiple times before, but it’s such a valuable tactic that it’s worth mentioning again, particularly since so many small local businesses and big companies alike haven’t accomplished it.

I consider it particularly vital for business types closely associated with the identities of their principals, like doctors and lawyers.

Research indicates that having a human face associated with your business makes it seem friendlier, more trustworthy and more approachable to potential new customers — and approachable is exactly what we want to reduce buyers’ hesitation (and thereby increase CTR)!

Google’s own internal research further backs this up — their observations indicated that human faces draw more attention, turning the old “golden triangle,” eye tracking heat map on its head.

So, integrate with Google+ and incorporate the authorship tags on your site’s pages in order to have your author photo icon appear with your listings. I’ve heard the criticisms of Google+/authorship and how some companies don’t like tying themselves to individuals’ identities. Yes, those are valid concerns, but they may be relatively minor quibbles compared to the potential lost value in business referrals you’re missing.

(Editors Note: Authorship markup was designed for use with article/blog content, which has a specific author, and the value and propriety of its use on regular web pages is less clear, so proceed at your own risk if  considering the use of authorship markup on non-article/blog content.)

5. Glam It Up With Photos And Videos!

This isn’t precisely “click-through optimization,” but if you see how frequently the Google and Bing algorithms like to bubble up images and videos onto the 1st page of results, and also how many local markets and some industries have relatively few videos — well, the opportunity involved becomes obvious.

I continue to see many local business sites with few-to-no photos or videos, so if you’re in this category, add some to your site’s pages. Considering how prevalent smartphones have become — there’s really no excuse!

These can be hosted on your site or on photo/video sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube — you can include links with your media on these sites so that either way you’ll increase click throughs back to your site.

6. Make Use Of PDF Assets

Add white papers, product specification sheets, printable menus, guides and info booklets to your site — for some types of keyword searches, PDFs may achieve higher CTR than standard web pages.

Don’t merely regurgitate a manufacturer’s product manual — those are likely duplicated hundreds of times on the net. Customize them to reflect your company, and add your name, address, phone numbers and a link back to your site so the PDF properly promotes you! It’s not difficult to save material in PDF from Word, Excel, and other content creation packages.

7. Utilize Breadcrumbs

Adding breadcrumbs can help Hansel Consumer and Gretel Customer to find your site! As I’ve touted before, Google will frequently display some breadcrumb links from your page just below the main link to your page in the search results.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 8.46.29 AM

Just from a statistical perspective, if you have a couple more links on a search results page, you immediately increase the odds of getting a click! You can help usability of your site by incorporating breadcrumb navigation links, too.

Use breadcrumb structured data markup to help Google understand the links. Bonus points if you also engineer particularly compelling breadcrumb link text, too! Could your breadcrumb navigation include a link to “Coupons” or “Discounts,” for instance?

8. Incorporate Structured Data

I’ve promoted the benefits of structured data many times, chief among them being that they may prompt Google to show Rich Snippets within your SERP listings.

There are currently a number of content types that can be highlighted with structured data such as, Recipes, Events, Lists, People and Products. The structured data helps search engines to understand the data, allowing them to display it in unique ways that stand out visually compared with standard search listings.

Best of all, research from within the search engines themselves has found that search listings given the rich snippet treatment typically enjoy much higher CTR; so, where it makes sense for a page, integrate the appropriate structured data. (Also, beware of how you apply aggregate ratings/reviews or you could get a penalty, since Google’s policies around some data type definitions has been vague or has changed over time.)

9. Ride The Coattails Of Others!

There are still many instances of local search queries and nationwide searches where online directories and internet yellow pages continue to occupy valuable listings on the 1st page of SERPs. Is your business also featured on those directory listing pages?

If not, make sure you add your listing to them or submit your listing to many directories at once via a business info aggregator or a distribution service like UBL (in the interest of full disclosure, I am an advisor for UBL).

If your business is already represented on the directories that occupy good rankings for your desired search terms, is there anything you can do to optimize your business profile those directories to improve visibility and prominence? It might even be worthwhile to pay for their cheapest ad treatment if it pushes your listing higher on their page — that would make for a hybrid paid/organic stratagem! Point is you could still improve your CTR by capturing some secondary clicks from those pages.

So you see, hyper-obsessing on rankings is only one piece of the puzzle — you can really punch up your results by adjusting how your company can appear in search results! Sure, some of these tactics won’t be for everyone, and I suggest testing out what you do since there can be unforeseen effects.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Local Search Column

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About The Author: is President of Argent Media, and serves on advisory boards for Universal Business Listing and FindLaw. Follow him @si1very on Twitter.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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