Many marketers work hard to achieve first page rankings but don't know what to do when they don't get many clicks. It's often assumed that getting on the first page of search results means automatic traffic, but it doesn't. Even getting on the first page for local search results - which is fairly easy to do - doesn't guarantee people will click on your link.

If you've achieved first page rankings but aren't getting many clicks, here are some possible reasons and solutions to help you troubleshoot:

Does your meta description tell the right story?

Users scan the meta description generated by the search engine before clicking on a result. If the meta description displayed doesn't match what a user searched for, they won't click. When crafting your meta description, think about what messaging would make a user click.

Focus on, but don't rely on the <meta> attribute

You have less control over your displayed meta description than you think. You can work hard to craft the perfect meta description using the <meta> attribute, but users may not see it. Google determines what snippet of content best describes your page, and there's no way to guarantee your official meta description will be displayed.

If Google thinks your meta description is better than your on-page content, that's what will be displayed. Otherwise, snippets from your on-page content will be used.

Since there's no way to guarantee the meta description Google shows users, the best way to optimize it is to write an accurate meta description and make sure every section of content on your page is clear, concise, and relevant - especially the opening 2-3 sentences of every page of content.

Plan for truncated meta descriptions

Your best move is to create a meta description that is complete at 155 characters, but is equally complete (and more expansive) at 320 characters.

"Google is now displaying, in many instances, up to 320 characters," according to Higher Visibility. "This is great from a search listing real estate perspective, and you should try to utilize as many of those 320 characters as possible." They also advise getting a clear message across in the first 155 characters in case your meta description gets truncated in a search.

Your meta description will vary based on a user's search terms

In the search results pages, the description Google displays underneath each link will vary depending on the terms used in the search, and where those terms appear on your page. That is, unless the actual meta description is displayed.

If you're using a dynamic content management system, get a plugin like Yoast that will let you define meta descriptions for each page. If you can get Google to recognize them as the most relevant description, you'll have more control over how your site is described to users. When Google uses on-page content for the description, you never know what will be used.

For example, when searching Google for "how to make a sandwich," a link from Food Network pops up. The meta description displayed under the link comes from tip #4, which describes how to stave off sogginess.

It's not entirely clear why this description was chosen over others. It doesn't contain the exact phrase searched for, though it does mention the word "sandwich" twice. The tip is short enough to be displayed in full. However, the first tip (which didn't get displayed) also mentions the word "sandwich" and "sandwiches," and is equally short.

Somehow, Google concluded that tip #4 was the best match to the search phrase.

Leverage Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

Any part of your content could be used as the meta description for your page. While you can't guarantee a specific section of your content will be displayed, you can leverage the power of LSI to increase the likelihood.

Remember, Google weighs the relevance of content above all else. Using LSI keywords in a paragraph will naturally boost the relevance of that paragraph.

People don't click on the top result just because it's the top result

Regardless of where a link shows up on a search results page, a user will only click links that appear relevant to what they're looking for. For example, if a user is looking for home remedies for tooth pain, they're not going to click on a page that appears to promote a local dentist, even if it's the first result.

However, if a local dentist published a blog describing home remedies for tooth pain, and the description makes that content clear, a user will click even when it's the last result on the page. Relevance trumps all.

Spend an equal amount of time optimizing your titles and descriptions

It's great to focus on getting your sites to the first page for various search terms. However, once you're there, make sure to spend an equal amount of time crafting your titles and content in a way that makes people want to click.

According to Yoast, when your link gets clicked often, Google will move you up in the ranks. This means you won't stay stuck at the bottom forever.






Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.



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Search Engine Guide > Jayson DeMers > Ranking On The First Page And Users Still Aren't Clicking Your Links? Here's Why