How To Milk Your High Search Engine Ranking For All It Is Worth

by Ana on September 16, 2010 · 50 comments

How To Milk Your High Search Engine Ranking For All It Is Worth

Q : How do you keep the milk from turning sour?

A : By keeping it in the cow.

A new eye tracking study, recently published by Mari Carmen Marcos and Cristina González Caro at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, was nothing short of eye opening.

The study analyzed the relationship between the purpose of the search, be it looking up a phone number, study on a topic, buy a product, and what area of the page the users focused on the most when looking at the SERP (search engine results page).

But here’s what matters to us, internet marketing types, in practical terms: the study concluded that your ranking position alone was not what determined whether your listing would be clicked on or not.

In other words, you can be ranked #1 and still receive less click than the second position!

The fact is that most users looked at your description snippet (i.e. meta description) to help them decide if the content looks interesting enough to click on it.

The study involved 58 individuals of different ages and gender, who were given 22 individual tasks. Not a huge pool of participants one might argue, but remember, folks, we are not researching a treatment for cancer here.

Here’s an image from the study to illustrate my point (the image provided by Ani López who translated the study from Spanish):

high search engine rankig meta desctipion

In the fist column, you see the intention behind the search, qualified as informational, navigational, transactional, or multimedia. I will not go into details on that one; it’s too academic, and my purpose is to provide you with PRACTICAL advice on getting more clicks from SERPs.

As you can see, whatever the intention, most users looked at the description (snippet) the longest, more than the title or URL.

The only reasonable conclusion here is:

Write your title tags and permalinks (URLs) for the search engines, but your description tags for the searchers.

That’s exactly what might move the search engine users to click on your organic listing over your competition.

Please understand that explaining what meta title and description tags are goes way beyond the scope of this post.

If you need this information and more, head over to my blog via High Search Engine Ranking Optimization link and download my free “7 Steps to Complete Search Engine Domination” report.

Question: would you qualify this study as a bunch of hogwash and let your competitors use it instead?

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Ryan Biddulph September 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Hi Ana,

This makes total sense. Searchers are looking for information above all else and that’s in the meta tags.

Thanks for sharing the powerful tip.

Ryan Biddulph
Ryan Biddulph´s last blog post ..How to Tap into the Miraculous Power of Your Subconscious Mind

Ana September 16, 2010 at 2:57 pm

You bet, Ryan. We have 150 characters to use in meta description and we’d better use them to the max!

Ana´s last blog post ..How To Conquer Your BLOG Low Subscription Rate Once And For All

Roy Scribner September 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm

That study caught my eye too, Ana. I have always tried to emphasize the meta-description on my blogs, but now I am putting more thought into the actual text I use there, instead of just copying a sentence from the post.

Ana September 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

That’s what I used to do as well, Roy; now I am much more careful. :)

Also, if you see that any of your posts is rising in SERPs, you can always go back and tweak your description to make sure it captivates the searchers.

Ana´s last blog post ..17 Traffic Building Tips from Some of the World’s Most Popular Bloggers

Steve September 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Ana that really makes some great sense. If your description tag is a boring but keyword optimized it may help rankings a little, but if it is really attention grabbing then it could really be so much more useful.

Thanks for pointing this out!!
Steve´s last blog post ..Can Money Buy Happiness The 75-000 Question…

Ana September 16, 2010 at 6:55 pm

We strive to rank higher to capture attention of human visitors and if we fail to do that with our description, then all our work simply goes down the drain.

Glad I made sense, Steve, and as always, thanks so much for stopping by.

Ana´s last blog post ..Make Money with Twitter

Hector | Blog Marketing September 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Hmm.. that’s a plausible conclusion. Hey, I guess if they ran an experiment, might as well try it out right? :0)
Hector | Blog Marketing´s last blog post ..The Fastest &amp Simplest Way To Create Real Relationships Online

Ana September 17, 2010 at 3:45 am

Especially if it does not take much additional effort on our part… why not?

Thanks, Hector!
Ana´s last blog post ..17 Traffic Building Tips from Some of the World’s Most Popular Bloggers

Hector | Blog Marketing September 17, 2010 at 7:12 am

You’re right.. what was I thinking? :0)
Hector | Blog Marketing´s last blog post ..The Fastest &amp Simplest Way To Create Real Relationships Online

Adam Paudyal September 16, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Hello Ana,

It sure does make a lot of sense. Even if the post is ranked #1 in the search engine results but the meta description is not attractive…people are less likely to click on it….I totally agree. I do the same….read that description before I click on the link…So might as well make use of the description and reap some benefits..

Thanks Ana for sharing this..
Adam Paudyal´s last blog post ..The Ultimate Guide To Using Keywords And Keyword Phrases In Your Site

Ana September 17, 2010 at 3:46 am

You are welcome, Adam, and yes, I am wired the same way.

If description sucks, I will never click on the link.

Thanks for coming by.

Ana´s last blog post ..Mistery of Google PageRank Solved

Moon Hussain September 16, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Ana, great post. I’ve always kind of knew this. For instance, when I google something, I don’t click on the first website just because it’s #1. It depends on whether I see any other site I prefer, description, title, etc. And then to keep me on the site, you better have the info I came looking for (amongst a handful of other things).
Moon Hussain´s last blog post ..The Tool that Could Bring You Exposure By the Thousands

Ana September 17, 2010 at 4:13 am

So we know what we are looking for as users; why don’t we always do it as webmasters? :)

Go figure, huh?

Thanks, Moon!
Ana´s last blog post ..Make Money Blogging – Who and How Much

John September 17, 2010 at 12:19 am

Insightful post, I think too many people get caught up in getting a number one ranking for any old keyword. You’ve prompted me to change my own meta-description.

Ana September 17, 2010 at 4:16 am

Glad I could help, John; thanks for leaving me a comment!

Ana´s last blog post ..New Google Instant- New Need For Speed

Julia September 17, 2010 at 1:23 am

Yup, people are quick to say Google doesn’t look at meta tags, but the description is really important, it has to be magnetic, short and sweet. The URL though is also important… I’m very suspicious of clicking on long URLs with random numbers.. having a keyword, readable URL is also good for searchers as well as search engines.
Julia´s last blog post ..How to make Medifast soup

Ana September 17, 2010 at 4:20 am

Very good point about URL, Julia. I never thought of it before, but you are right, I wouldn’t click on a strange-looking one as either.

Thanks for the insight!

Ana´s last blog post ..How To Conquer Your BLOG Low Subscription Rate Once And For All

Thu Nguyen September 17, 2010 at 7:54 am

Hello Ana,

Ever since I learned what the three most important part of the page are – title, keywords and meta description, I have been on it since. Furthermore, no matter what, I write a new summary of what the article is because I know that what you see in the search engines can be ugly. You only have a moment to glance over the results so if you can pinpoint exactly what the article it, you got a click through.

This study BTW is really awesome because the 51% in information really shows that you have to be more unique than writing content. You have to consider the presentation too.

Thanks so much for sharing this post!
Thu Nguyen@BloggingFor´s last blog post ..How to Get Your Blog Ranked Under 100k on Alexa

Ana September 17, 2010 at 2:25 pm

That’s an awesome habit to have, Thu.

To be quite honest, I get lazy sometimes and do the bare minimum, but this study certainly reminded me how important it is.

I really appreciate your insightful comment.

Ana´s last blog post ..Improve Your Google Ranking- From Lame To Fame in 4 Easy Steps

Tia Peterson September 17, 2010 at 8:01 am

Makes total sense to me, too. Your meta description matters! I mentioned this tip in the common blog SEO mistakes. Whenever I write my meta description for each post, I (usually) use keyword:very intriguing meta description here. Sometimes I skip the keyword but I try to use it when I can.


Tia Peterson´s last blog post ..Bloggers- Does It Feel Like No One’s Listening

Ana September 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Good point, Tia: keyword for the SEs, great and to the point description for the searchers.

Pleasure to see you!

Ana´s last blog post ..Make Money Blogging – Who and How Much

Rahul September 17, 2010 at 9:05 am

Nice article Ana.
Rahul @ MazaKaro´s last blog post ..Top 18 SEO Tools

Ana September 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm

You are welcome, Rahul. Love your avatar!

Ana´s last blog post ..17 Traffic Building Tips from Some of the World’s Most Popular Bloggers

Kathy September 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm


I have known for some time that creating great Meta-descriptions increases your CTR. This study kind of reinforces that line of thinking.

More great actionable advice from Ana.
Kathy´s last blog post ..How Sex Can Help You Write Articles That People Cannot Resist Reading

Ana September 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Thanks, Kathy – always great to hear your insights.

Ana´s last blog post ..Make Money with Twitter

Neil September 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm

It’s true that just like on your website you only have a few seconds to attract a visitors attention before they click away, so titles and descriptions are very important and you should have your keywords in them as well.

You have to be careful how you do this now though otherwise it can be seen as over optimization by some search engines.
Neil@OnlineIncomeAchievers´s last blog post ..How To Make More Than One Website A Day!

Ana September 17, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Very true, Neil. That’s why, although it’s important to mention your keywords in description, it needs to be written for searchers, not SEs.

Ana´s last blog post ..How To Conquer Your BLOG Low Subscription Rate Once And For All

Prasenjit September 17, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Well, meta tags are really powerful and at the same time good for SEO. But with the new Google Instant Search, do you think they’re using a new algorithm? I’ve written a post on Google Instant search on my blog. Check my signature link and please let me know what you think about the effects of the Google Instant Search.

Prasenjit @ Make Money Blogging´s last blog post ..Google Instant Search- Will it Help Internet Marketers-SEO experts

Ana September 17, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I don’t think Google Instant Search will change any of that, Prasenjit. They merely changed the way the search is conducted, but not necessarily their algorithms.

The biggest algorithm change happen in June with Google Caffeine and I don’t think we should expect another one for a while.

Ana´s last blog post ..Improve Your Google Ranking- From Lame To Fame in 4 Easy Steps

Imran September 18, 2010 at 7:18 am

Ana, does google really relies on Meta, They are very power for other search engine, but Google does not consider Meta anymore. When every we think, we always thing of google alone and forget about other search engines.

Imran@TechiesBlog´s last blog post ..How To Setup WampServer in Your Home Computer

Ana September 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Yes, Google still considers Title tag and Meta description, Imran – that’s how they pull their results up. Meta keywords are not important any longer.

In my experience, if you focus on Google first, the other engines will list you as well. If not, you can always tweak a few things to get into Bing and Yahoo.

Thanks for stopping by!

Ana´s last blog post ..Make Money Blogging Secret- Starve The Ponies and Feed The Stallions

Dennis Edell September 18, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Just another awesome example of, humans first – search engines second. ;)
Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog post ..Who Wants More Details!

Ana September 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Very true, Dennis; and we’d better remember that!

Ana´s last blog post ..Improve Your Google Ranking- From Lame To Fame in 4 Easy Steps

pcd2k September 21, 2010 at 12:37 am

I have of late been considering changing my nevertheless blog’s description, but am unsure if this is a good move or not ?
pcd2k´s last blog post ..Inception inspired Time Lapse video montage

Ana September 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I just got back from you blog.

As of right now, it doesn’t look like you have any title tag or meta description. Google just pulled up some random info from one of your posts.

Definitely would change that.

Ana´s last blog post ..Make Money Blogging Secret- Starve The Ponies and Feed The Stallions

Karl Foxley September 21, 2010 at 6:21 am

This study confirms what a lot of decent SEOs have been recommending for a long time now, write your description tag to encourage the click-through.

I like the meta-description tag as it is a great place to write copy-text that is short, to the point, and sells the click.

Great share.

Karl Foxley´s last blog post ..So You Want to be a Famous Blogger

Ana September 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Very true, Karl.

Good place to practice (or learn) some powerful copywriting indeed.

I confess I still need a lot of work in this area!

Thanks for stopping by.

Ana´s last blog post ..How To Use Google To Help You Convince Your List To Buy From You

Julius September 22, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Hey Ana,

Really interesting study they did, thanks for sharing it. I guess then I do need to optimize my meta description.
Julius @ Speeding up Wordpress´s last blog post ..Quality vs Quantity â�� What Do You Think

Ana September 24, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Looks like it indeed, Julius – thanks for coming by!

Ana´s last blog post ..Picture This- 5 Stages of Blogger’s Life

Andrew September 23, 2010 at 1:18 pm

This is not hogwash for me because if I base it on my own attitude when searching, I actually don’t click that fast on the first one that appears on the search engine rather I tend to read the descriptions first, and click on the one that describes best what I want.
Andrew @ Blogging Guide´s last blog post ..Blogging Guide- The Gut Feeling You Should Never Ignore

Ana September 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I second that, Andrew. I am very selective about my clicks, which only reinforces the fact that we need to pay more attention to our descriptions.

Ana´s last blog post ..Make Money Blogging Secret- Starve The Ponies and Feed The Stallions

Alex Dumitru October 2, 2010 at 4:42 pm

An excellent post, Ana !
Alex Dumitru´s last blog post ..Win a Free Ad On My Blog

How To Attract New Customers October 4, 2010 at 1:32 am

I was just starting to teak my description tags thsi morning, and I sure wasn’t using your method.

Back to ye-ole drawing board.

How To Attract New Customers October 4, 2010 at 1:34 am

Oh yea….I guess I should start reading your e-book I just downloaded.

That should have plenty of goodies in it.

Thanks again,

Ana October 4, 2010 at 1:42 am

You tell me, Johnny! :)
Ana´s last blog post ..SEO Copywriting Made Simple – REALLY

Daisy October 23, 2010 at 5:33 am

Writing attractive title and description is always advised by Top Internet Marketers to increase the click through rate. That’s why Google also says don’t build pages for search engines instead build it for real visitors.
Daisy @ Tinnitus´s last blog post ..Tinnitus Treatment Permanent Tinnitus Treatment updated Fri Oct 15 2010 9-21 am CDT

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