Improving Click Throughs Exercise

Choose one of your pages that you're having problems with click throughs. Take the most important keyword phrase and type it into Google. When the results come up, study the titles and descriptions for the top 10 results. How do they compare with yours?

Pick someone in your office (or maybe your spouse or a friend), and ask him/her to choose which result he/she would pick after reading the titles and descriptions.

How does your title/description compare to the chosen result?

Where is Google pulling your description from? Is it pulling your description from the description META tag? If not, find the description on your page. If your site is listed in the Open Directory Project (, it may be pulling your description from that listing. Are you pleased with the description? If not, rewrite it.

Start rewriting your titles and descriptions for 5-10 of your top pages. Don't make any changes to your HTML pages yet. Let others in the office see the changes and get their opinions. Wait until the solutions part this article before letting any changes go live.

Though you may think these aren't "creativity" exercises, the solutions you'll find will definitely spark your creative thinking.

Remember: the purpose of this exercise is to improve your click through rate. However, by the same token, we don't want your rankings to go down. Just make sure to use your keyword phrase toward the beginning of both tags when you rewrite them.

If you have a branding problem online, get your brainstorming team together and think about what you can do about "GJL Retail" and how to brand it and make it memorable. There are many different paths you can take. Take out a piece of paper and start writing. Study some successful retail sites online. How have they successfully branded themselves?

Tip: You don't have to use your keyword phrase in your domain name.

Increasing Traffic to Your Site

For this very important exercise, I want you to forget about your own Web site. You're too close to your site, so you need to learn by working on a hypothetical site, and then apply what you have learned to your own online business.

1. Gather your brainstorming team together. The team may be you and just one other person. But you need at least one more person to work with you.

2. Here is your mission:

You've been given a Web site to work with, but you're not allowed to touch the design of the site. We've just spent $50,000 on a new site design, which we're very proud of, and we've written the content for the audience. We don't want the design or the content changed.

3. Pick between these different companies, but DON'T pick a company that's similar to yours.

  • Online retail store
  • Nonprofit organization
  • Medical supplies
  • Online counseling
  • Local winery
  • Downloadable cook books

Tip: The first thing you'll want to do is spend 10 minutes or so thinking about the company itself. You need to have a feel for the company, what products or services it provides, and what its target audience is. Who is this company marketing to?

4. Your Goal: Come up with as many ways to increase traffic to this site as you can. These ways can come from search engine marketing, other avenues of online marketing, or offline marketing.

Be CREATIVE. Let nothing hold you back. Start a list and begin writing. Remember: money is no object.

Here are the guidelines you MUST follow:

  • You can add new pages.
  • You can change the content of tags.
  • You can NOT spam in any way. No cloaking allowed. No tag stuffing. No redirects. Read Google's Webmaster Guidelines ( if you're unsure of what constitutes spam.
  • You can't change the content of existing pages EXCEPT to rewrite the heading at the top of the pages.
  • You can't change the design. The site MUST look just like it looks now.

Important Notes:

  • Don't forget the entire SEO process. Though we're focusing on "creativity" here, forgetting the "basics" of SEO can mean severe problems to a Web site.
  • SEO isn't the only "game" in town. What other online marketing avenues can you consider?
  • What offline marketing avenues can you consider?
  • Think creatively . . . radically . . . illogically. Don't neglect to add something to your list because you "think" it will never work. Add it anyway! Absolutely NO ideas are bad or wrong (unless they are spam).
  • Get to work! Don't pass over this exercise. If it sounds silly to you, do it anyway. This simple exercise could be one of the most important learning exercises you've done in a long, long time.

Possible Solutions to our Example Sites

Example #1: Travel Web Site
Here are some of my brainstorming ideas:

Remember: Even if you're not in the travel industry, you can adjust these ideas to work for many other industries as well.

  • Set up an area on your site where your past travelers can post photos of their vacations. This would be your photo library. If a traveler posted photos of their vacation on your Web site, don't you imagine they would link to your photo library from their Web site? Don't you imagine that potential travelers would see those other photos, and this could encourage them to purchase their travel packages from you? In other words, you're also building up the trust factor by showing them past happy customers.
  • Set up an online coloring area for children who go on vacations or want to go. This could be a place for parents to send their children to get them excited about the trip or afterward to color pictures about their trip. Use vacation or holiday-oriented coloring sheets. Let the children print out, e-mail, or post their color sheets online. Every aunt, grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, extended family, etc., will link to pictures their children have posted online. The link popularity potential will be astounding. is a great example of what can be done. (Check out their link popularity at, by the way.)
  • Have a well-defined link to the two areas on the main page on your site and in your main navigation system. Also, include the links on your site map. Have a small area of your main page that explains that you've set up these special areas of your site just for your travelers.
  • When someone purchases a package from you, remind them about the photo areas and send them the URL of how they can use the areas when they get back from the trip. Make the instructions user friendly (meaning non-computer-savvy friendly).
  • Look carefully at the graphics on your site. You're not selling "vacation packages," you're selling the "Yippee! We're having fun!" Do you have pictures of the Walt Disney World sign with no smiling faces, or a picture of Splash Mountain with no one barreling down the water fall? At our last workshop, one of our students told me that she'd taken our suggestion about including a person in a sports car on the main graphic on one of her client's sites, rather than just the car, and their conversion rate quadrupled. Think about it. It can make a difference.
  • Have a non-intrusive link at the bottom of your pages where you can "refer a friend." Consider showing your appreciation to those who refer business to you by offering a 10% discount on their next vacation package for anyone who actually signs up for a vacation package.
  • Look at the use of additional graphics on your site. Graphics should be used to invoke emotions or draw the eye to whatever you want the visitor to see. Don't use graphics gratuitously. White space is fine on a Web page. You don't want to use a cute little graphic and draw the eye away from some important content on your page needlessly. However, a "Buy here" button is fine!
  • If you don't have a newsletter, set one up immediately! Be sure to announce special dates at the parks, special pricing that you might have from time to time, your photo and color areas, your referral discount appreciation program, and new things happening on your Web site. Make your newsletter personal, written by one person, and write it on a regular basis. Don't send it out too often. Your newsletter should bring your "family" of readers together, with you as the writer, if done correctly. Have a place to sign up for your newsletter on every page of your site. Post past newsletters online, and add that content to your site. Permission e-mail marketing is an extremely powerful form of online marketing.
  • Make your USP clear throughout your site. This is what differentiates you from your competition. This is why I would buy from YOU rather than your competition.

Again, there are many other things we could do with this Web site. However, we covered the travel site's main problems: conversions, link popularity, and USP. We also covered ways to make your Web site "sticky." By working on off-page factors (link popularity), your rankings should improve.

Example #2: Online Retail Store
Here are some of my brainstorming ideas:

Tips for re-writing titles and descriptions:

  • Get rid of all trite words in your titles and descriptions. Use power words instead. Visit and type in trite words and substitute them for power words. For example, our products are always the "best," aren't they? (yawn) How about "incomparable" instead?
  • Ask stimulating questions in your titles or descriptions. They make your potential audience stop and think. "What would a management planner be worth to you if it increased your productivity by 87%?"
  • Solve problems for your visitors in your titles or descriptions. Save them money or time, or even offer your USP in your tags, only if appropriate. "Let us dig for antique books for you. Send us titles and authors, then sit back and relax!"
  • Read this article on adding "zest" to your title tags:

In part four, we'll head back to the drawing board for some more keyword research and we'll look at some other ideas for increasing traffic.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

May 18, 2006

Robin Nobles is the Co-Director of Training of Search Engine Workshops, where they teach "hands on" search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe. They also provide a networking community for SEOs called The World Resource Center for Search Engine Marketers and have expanded their workshops to Europe with Search Engine Workshops UK.

Search Engine Guide > Robin Nobles > The Missing Element in Search Engine Marketing - Part 3