Being found on a Search: The Power of a Good Description
Having a powerful description will aid those using the search engines to come and look at your web page. The description is perhaps more important than your ranking on search results because this small block of words will be read by the searcher to determine relevance to their needs.
- Internet Search
- Descriptive Information
- In The Mind of the Searcher
- Problems of Pictures and Graphics
- The role of Social Media
Although there are many search engines out there, you should focus on the big three and leave the rest alone, to start. Google, Yahoo and Bing are the big boys on the block, with Google controlling the lion's share of the market at 94%. Currently market analysts predict that Bing's share of the market will increase from its current 4% to between 7 and 11% over the next two years; all at the expense of Google.
So when optimizing your site, stick to the things that the top three players Google appreciate. There's no sense in optimizing for Ask or MSN, when you will gain very little traffic from those sites.
Make sure that both the page title and the descriptive tag is engaging and relevant to the person searching for your site. Search platforms will use this information to create that little blurb about your site, which will help prospective visitors decide whether to visit your site. The truth is that most people employing a web search will read these before deciding whether or not to visit a site; so it is not only about being number 1 in the search results.
A concise, descriptive blurb draw visitors to your site when the description associated with the search results your site matches their needs. This is one area business owners need to pay special to when setting up their web site. Web designers, or programmers rarely understand the best description to use, then again many business people do not understand the importance of this element of their web site. Although a description may be as long as you wish it is the first 160 characters that are the most important here.
Remember this each page must have a separate description, and each must focus on the reason for existence of that page and that page alone. Of course individual pages on a web site will be interlinked and use many of the same words - but you should should aim to be precise in your wording for each product or service offered - there MUST be differences for each page on your site.
The description must have excellent grammar and no typo's in it and should include at least two of your key words or phrases. Keep your keywords in mind, but remember that each page must be created with your users in mind. Search engines may crawl for keywords but they are not the ones choosing to click on your link and here we enter into a realm of intuition and guesswork because you have to understand what is in the mind of the searcher in order to have them click on your link.
In The Mind of the Searcher
Ultimately your first priority in setting up search criteria should be your potential customers and not the search engines they may use. Yet looking into the mind of the user can be the hardest thing to do.
According to Paul Sutton "Psychologists believe that the internet has become part of our 'trans-active memory'". Indeed it is true that we know that we no longer have to retain knowledge in our own memory because the information is available at the touch of a button, through a search.
Getting inside the mind of the searcher is an important, yet complex subject and there are many, many theories that have been written on the subject.
Nico Brooks in "The Mind of the Searcher" suggests that we should consider the following four steps:
Before searching a prospective customer assesses their personal needs; the intention. The will then perform the search, often in the simplest of terms e.g. "Winter Coat", then they will consider the results of their search and a part of that consideration relates to the descriptive paragraph, the other element here is the access to relevant information when they click the link. This is one of the reasons why descriptive tags and keywords must be accurate as being taken to an irrelevant page will reduce the searchers confidence in what you have to offer.
We all want the end result, the action, the step the searcher makes to purchase your product - by clicking the "Buy here" button or calling your number.
Ultimately the descriptive text that you use should flow smoothly and be user-friendly and be easy to read. There are many ways to help buyers find your website, but repeating the same keyword phrase ten times within one paragraph isn't the optimal way to do it.
Problems of Pictures and Graphics
Pictures and graphics are great for the visual aspect of your web page. Unfortunately, search engines cannot interpret them (unless a user is doing a specific image search). Google Goggles is starting to make some inroads into pictorial search, but it still has a long way to go before it becomes really useful.
If you have an awesome image, make sure you have an awesome, descriptive text caption to go with it. Without the awesome description your picture will be meaningless.
The role of Social Media
Think about this for one moment - today around 20% of search results are now social media-driven.
Here is why. Social media can be a great tool for improving the traffic flow to any website. The way they work is that networks of people can make a website very popular, very quickly. Joe tells everyone he knows about a discovery he has made and includes a link, other people comment or re-post the link and increase the popularity of the target site. Every time somebody links to your site on a social media site, the chances of your website showing up on the first page of search engine results increase.
Business must use social media the right way in order to raise visibility. Utilizing social media is a great way to gain more exposure to your site and to improve your rankings. The right way is by appearing as the expert in your specific field and assisting people through the social media posts you make.
You increase search engine traffic through the use of back-links. One of the advantages of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus is the way they allow users to share links on their own page with a simple click of a button. Many of the key social media pages have high rankings, and being linked to from them can significantly increase the page rank of your site. It is important to be involved in the discussion.
There are many things to think about when generating a web page - it is not simply the content, this includes the keywords used, links made to other sources, back-links to your site (or pages on it), links via social media etc. They will all assist in boosting how your site is located on the search results, but having a powerful description will aid those using the search engines to come and look at your page.
Peter Giblett is the co-founder of P3 Social Media and assists businesses large and small in improving their visibility on the web.