Last updated on November 4th, 2019
In the previous 4 posts of this series, we’ve talked about on-page SEO optimization. Today I’d like to focus on an often overlooked aspect of SEO.
If you’ve applied all the previous lessons of this series, then you will already have great content and a great headline for your post. And if you are promoting your content on social media, chances are that your post will organically appear in search result soon.
So what is the only remaining hurdle for people to actually click and visit your website to read your post?
The answer lies in your search result snippet, the way your content appears on Google. In other words, how click-worthy is your search result snippet? And there is more to this than meets the eye…
Search Results Visualization
What is a search result snippet?
- A search engine results page (SERP) is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query.
- It consists of a list of items with titles, a reference to the full version, and a short description.
- A “search result snippet” is how your post or podcast show notes page shows up as a single item on this list.
How do you ensure a great search result snippet?
Once again, Yoast to the rescue. The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is useful because it displays a “Search Result Snippet Preview”.
- This allows you to change and edit the way the title and description of the post is displayed in the SERP snippet.
- It also lets you change the title and description you would like to display in the search results.
- In short, it lets you design what people will experience as they find your content in search results.
Why should you optimize the Search Result Snippet?
It is important to optimize the way your post shows up in search results. Google rewards well-designed search result snippets with increased ranking. Perhaps not by much, but it makes a slight difference. More important is this:
If your search result snippet looks unattractive, makes no sense, or the post title is too long, then users are much less likely to click. So a well designed search engine result snippet can increase clicks a lot.
Here is an example of a post before optimization, and the reasons it would be bad to leave it this way:
- The post title is too long, and thus gets “cut off”, and Google had to add an ellipsis a the end.
- The sentence below the title makes no sense and does not help the searcher identify what this post is about. This is because the meta description was not entered on Yoast, and so Google just displays the first words appearing in this post.
- Some premium themes have shortcodes that appear in the SERP snippet, and this can be confusing.
Here is an optimized example
Google rewards you for optimizing the appearance of search results snippets. Here is the same example as above, but this time with the post title length fixed, and with the correct meta description added.
- As you can see, the content makes sense and will result in a higher percentage of clicks.
Additional tips to design a successful SERP snippet
You might think of ways to tease people with a hint of what they will learn reading your post.
- To my eye, keeping it super short with a teaser is most effective.
- One line is better than two.
- Asking a question can be inviting readers to click.
- Of course, your target keyword should still be present in the meta description.
What if you’re not using WordPress or Yoast SEO?
No problems, here are some great resources for you. They work with any blog platform. My favorite is the Mangools SERP simulator, where you can simply enter your title tag and meta description to see your website’s SERP snippet preview.
Even if you are already writing great post and episode headlines, do not overlook the importance of designing your SERP snippets.
Given the time you spend writing content, especially if you follow our philosophy of podcasting as a content strategy, then it makes perfect sense to dedicate a few extra minutes to this. And while WordPress plugins (like Yoast) make it easy, there are alternative snippet visualizers.
Where can we send your guide?