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  • “Google Window Dressing” – 12 Ways To Squeeze Every Last Drop Of Traffic From Your Current Rankings

    Here’s the reality –  you’re not always going to rank #1 for all your keywords all of the time.

    Faced with this constraint, you should put some serious thought into how you plan to legimately ‘steal’ clicks from competitors ranked above you. Remember – ranking is not an end unto itself; it is the click that matters!

    In this post (which is my first for SEOptimise),  I cover a number of psychological subtleties which you can use to ‘window dress’ your current position in Google. I have split these into 2 categories:

    a) Getting the searcher’s attention – to steal clicks from those ranked above you, you first HAVE to draw attention to your listing. And because Google limits what you (and all your competitors) can actually do in the listings, it means the smallest things can make a big difference.

    b) Once they’ve noticed your listing – how to ‘sell the click’ and maximize your organic click-through rate.

    I’ve used the ‘wedding favors’ market to illustrate several of these tactics – it is a highly competitive market and as such demonstrates several of these best-practices.

    Attention-Getting Tactics

    1. Add A Phone Number To Your Meta Description

    In addition to adding credibility to your site, this quick trick means that if the user has Skype installed on their computer (which 190m users do), the phone number is turned into a clickable Skype icon. A great way to catch the searcher’s eye.

    2. Add A Small Sprinkle Of Special Characters To Your Title Tag Or Meta Description

    Instead of using a dash (-) or vertical (|) to separate content in your title tags, consider using a special character. Like a ♦ or a ●. Maybe you have a trademarked term which you can ™. All recent browsers support special characters, and they are more visible to searchers.

    American Bridal use a strategically placed ♥ to draw attention to their URL:

    This tip comes with a health warning – use only 1, at maximum 2, special characters per listing, else you risk producing a spammy-looking site. Used in moderation however, they are another useful attention-grabbing tool. Here’s a full list of HTML characters.

    3. Get Your Page Reviewed On StumbleUpon

    Another quick trick – getting your page reviewed will add the Stumbleupon logo next to your title tag for people with the Stumbleupon toolbar. It’s a subtle boost to your page’s credibility, but more importantly it’s another chance to catch the searcher’s attention.

    4. Control Your Snippet Length (strategy 1)

    You have 155 characters at your disposal before Google truncates your meta description.  However, I recommend imposing a 70 character limit for your snippet.  This will mean you use only the 1-line of text instead of two.

    Why? Because a) it forces you to get to the point, b) people never read the entire snippet anyway and c) all the other pages you are competing with use bloated meta descriptions that take up both lines – so keeping yours short is another way of standing out.

    (n.b. For the uninitiated, your snippet is the 2-lines of descriptive text underneath your title.  More often than not Google uses your meta description for this, particularly if you include your keywords in it.)

    5. Control Your Snippet Length (strategy 2)

    An alternative strategy is to choose 100-110 characters for your snippet (i.e. meta description).

    This sends your snippet onto its second line, but only just. The rest of the line is white space which helps give your title and snippet a spot of breathing room – making them more likely to actually get read.

    6. Get An Indented Listing

    Double your control of Google real estate with a coveted indented listing.  Not only does this push your competitors further down the rankings, it also naturally draws your eyes to the area of white space to the left of the indented listing.

    An indented listing is considerably easier to get than the initial listing. And you can actively pursue one – for guidance on indented listings see here (n.b. this site autoplays a video on indented listings when you visit).

    7. Lower Your Ranking To Position 10

    It is a well known observation that sites at position 10 get more traffic than those in positions slightly higher up.  As a strictly temporary measure you might want to alter the title tag in the short term to dip into that 10th spot.  Of course, long-term you don’t want to be anywhere near the bottom.

    8. Google Site Links

    Nothing controls white space better than having Google display up to 8 of your internal site links.

    Although you no longer have to be top of Google for your keyword to benefit from this, it is still very much in their hands whether they grant you this free real estate or not.

    Once You’ve Got Their Attention…

    The above are purely visual tactics to get your listing noticed. However, once you’ve momentarily got the attention of the searcher’s eyeballs, it is time to sell the click!  And fast. Here’s a short list of things to do:

    9. Your Title Tages – As Short As Possible, But No Shorter

    You’ve got 67 characters to make your pitch before Google cuts you short.  If you can do it in 50 and still contain your keywords, then great – resist the temptation to add fluff.  White space is your friend, and short(ish) titles are far more readable.

    10. Copywriting For Title Tags

    Nothing attracts the eye better than a powerful, persuasive headline.  It will often draw more clicks than a higher-ranked, keyword-stuffed title tag of your competitor.
    I find getting into an ‘Adwords mentality’ useful here. Pretend you are writing a Google Adword instead of a title tag – get your keywords in, but be pithy and sell the click. Andy and Tad have already written good articles powerful titles for SEO and on SEO copywriting.

    11. Use Your Snippet To Reinforce Your Title

    No significant weight is given to the meta description for SEO purposes.  It is therefore a great opportunity to use this space to help sell the click. What can the reader expect if they choose to click on your listing? How is it going to change their day? What’s in it for them?

    Look at this great example of what I am talking about:

    For many the meta description is an afterthought. Not for you though.

    12. Use Friendly URLs

    Your URL can help reassure a searcher that you are going to give them what you are promising.  By using keywords in the URL, the searcher’s subconscious will say ‘ok, they actually DO have a page about this, I’m not being duped, maybe it’s worth a look’.

    (Of course, the keywords will also be bolded for extra attention too.)


    Ultimately Google limits what you can do with your listing – you only have a Title Tag, a Snippet and a URL to work with. However, because this is the same for everybody, even small tweaks can make a noticeable difference to your traffic.

    Take a quick look at your competition, particularly those that rank above you – are they using any of these 12 strategies above? If not, here’s your chance to legitimately steal traffic from them without having to improve your ranking.

    Any tips or tricks you use that I’ve left out? I would love to hear from you in the Comments below if you have.


    34 Responses to ““Google Window Dressing” – 12 Ways To Squeeze Every Last Drop Of Traffic From Your Current Rankings”

    1. Phones like the iPhone turn phone numbers into click to call links too.

    2. TheMadHat says:

      Nice work. I’ve used this tactic to positive results. I would in some cases sacrifice a higher position and use an attention grabbing title/description. CTR is higher than the spots above mine. I’ve tested (as much as possible anyway) and seen improvements.

      The phone number idea is a good one, hadn’t thought of that but it’s certainly worth a test!

    3. TheMadHat says:

      Oh yea, I thought I would also expand on #9. I don’t think that’s always going to be your best idea. I’d say it really depends on what your competition in the space is doing. The point is to stand out, not necessarily keep your titles as short as possible.

    4. Ichor says:

      I think might be worth mentioning something I just noticed when looking SERPS while reading this.

      Making public comments on google searches will make you stand out against your competitors. Only if they don’t have them themselfs.

    5. Brent says:

      I didn’t know about the Skype trick… thanks!

    6. Blog Expert says:

      Excellent thoughts. I will definitely know how to do some of this now.

    7. Max Capener says:

      @patrick: Good tip :)

      @themadhat: yes I agree, #9 by itself would logically lead to title tags which only contain keywords. Which is why I think point #10 is so important. These two work off each other. I see SO many go over the 67-character limit with what would otherwise have been a very good (user-friendly) title.

    8. wheel says:


      Thanks for that post, Max. Like many here I’m already doing much of that but there’s a couple of gems in there (skype, tm) that I’m going to go back and work into my site.

    9. wheel says:

      And your site strips out my monty burns slash monty burns tags around the word excellent :).

    10. Andy Beard says:

      I will get that autoplay switched off

      One thing I find interesting is seeing if a user generated comment that is like a testimonial for an article might appear instead of the meta description in the snippet. This then gets you a testimonial saying something like “Great Article on Key Word, I wish I had read this before….”
      It is not something you could/should write yourself

    11. Kurt Krejny says:

      Nice tips… if you have a product website it may be worth considering putting “Free Shipping” in the Title Tag to stand out a little more and also pick up extra searches. In tough economic times this can entice clicks to a site that may lead to a purchase.

    12. Nice tip Kurt, I’d imagine that would work very nicely ;)

    13. The reasons you list for sculpting the SERPs result are pretty much why I wrote the bookmarklet here:

      The top half shows an example Google result, the second half lists the headings etc which I find useful to give me a quick overview of a single page’s on site seo-fu.

    14. Krsna says:

      Nice Post!! Website being reviewed by stumble upon is a good idea for increasing credibility..thanks for sharing..

    15. http://resourcesandmoney.blogspot.com says:

      Adding a heart in your article snippet? Hmmm.. That’s something new to me.

    16. Jon Buscall says:

      Some fabulous tips here. Many thanks.

      I really liked the idea of the heart. Gonna try that just for the hell of it!

    17. Dev Basu says:

      I like your out-of-the-box ideas. Regarding #7 Lower Your Ranking To Position 10, can you point me in the right direction towards the source of that data?

    18. SEO Roundup: December 17th - Cash-Bandit.com says:

      [...] fourth post is by Max Carpner and featured on SEOptimise and looks at dressing up your Google listing through a selection of [...]

    19. SEO Perth says:

      Like the first tip, the skype phone number trick, haven’t seen it in the serps yet but it does stand out, and could possibly get you a phone call lead without a click through.

    20. ทีเด็ดฟุตบอล says:

      There are a lot of things that I haven’t known before. Thanks!

    21. hussain says:

      hi amazing post, 5 &6 point about spacing is really cool!!!!

    22. These are great tips to try out. Thanks for the creative ideas!

    23. Search Engine Title & Meta Description Tag Improvements says:

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    24. [...] fourth post is by Max Carpner and featured on SEOptimise and looks at dressing up your Google listing through a selection of [...]

    25. [...] great tactics are detailed at SEOptimise.com, [...]

    26. Great stuff! Loved this refreshing post, to many of us become obsessed with being #1 for our keywords that we forget that its actually the clickthrough that really matters.

    27. You are now listed on FAQPAL says:

      “Google Window Dressing” – 12 Ways To Squeeze Every Last Drop Of Traffic From Your Current Rankings…

      I cover a number of psychological subtleties which you can use to ‘window dress’ your current position in Google….

    28. Vote for this article at blogengage.com says:

      “Google Window Dressing” – 12 Ways To Squeeze Every Last Drop Of Traffic From Your Current Rankings…

      I cover a number of psychological subtleties which you can use to ‘window dress’ your current position in Google….

    29. [...] So, if you can, sculpt your search results. Change Google’s snippet by jazzing up the words that surround the keyword they found. There is a whole set of techniques you can use to improve how your existing search results appear. [...]

    30. Like the first tip, the Skype phone number thing, haven’t seen it yet. Your website being reviewed by Stumble is a good idea for increasing credibility
      thank you for sharing..

    31. You’re right. In the highly competitive market it is difficult to be #1 but optimization does help to get better results and I like your list. I have seen the number converted into the skype icon but I am not sure I like it.

    32. I dint know about this special characters and the skype trick. Thanks for the info. Nice article.

    33. Adding a phone number to the meta description is an interesting one. I personally hate that skype phone number highlight thing, but it is worth testing I think to see CTRs… Thanks!

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