File this one under: Huh! I didn’t know I could do that!

Many business owners don’t realize that they can actually influence and control the way their listing looks on the search engines.  Changing a few things on your website can dramatically increase ranking, click-throughs and of course website traffic.  For purpose of example, I’m going to use a site that I built a while back: FloatMissouri.com (for those of you that don’t know what a float trip is, this site will enlighten you)

See What They See

The first step in modifying your listing is to check out just how the search engines list you now.  You can do that by going to Google.com and typing in info:www.domain.com – obviously changing the domain to your domain.

The resulting page will show you just how Google lists your site currently.

Changing the Title

The words in the picture above “Float Trips in Missouri” come from an HTML tag called the Title tag.  This is a tag that goes near the top of every page on your site.  The title tag should be unique, concise, and definitely needs a keyword or keyphrase that you want to rank for in it.  Oh – and every page should have it’s own unique title.

Depending on how you create your website, this tag may be something you change in your CMS or your web guy may have hard-coded it into the page.  Either way, this tag is a big factor in determining your overall ranking, so you need to know how to modify it.

Changing the Description

The description is another section of the listing that you can actually control.  If yours is just a bunch of junk, chances are you don’t have the meta description tag and you’ve forced the search engines to take a random snippet of text from your page.  No worries – we can fix it!

The meta description tag is sometimes a little more elusive.  In fact, many sites don’t have this tag at all – but they should!  While many say this tag has no SEO value, I believe it does.  While it may not affect your rankings, it definitely can be a make or break line for anyone who sees your listing on the search engines.  You need to make this line a compelling and descriptive sentence about the page you are modifying.  You have limited space here – around 150 characters – so make it something that a searcher would likely click on to find out more.

There you go – you’ve done it!  Modifying those two lines of code will change the way the search engines display your website to the world.

Hurry Up and Wait

Just like the military, nothing in the world of search engines is done quickly.  So don’t expect these changes to show up right away.  If you normally don’t change your page often, it may be a while before the spiders come back and discover your changes.  But that’s ok – you’ve got a lot to do.

Now Get to Work

Here’s the bad news – every page on your site really needs to have both of these tags, and they need to be unique for each of those pages.  Yeah, every page.

Didn’t think you’d have homework at the end of this post, did you?

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