It’s incredibly important to see how your website is represented in search engine results.
The FIRST representation most people see of your website is it’s search engine listing. First impressions really count, the quality of your search engine listing can play a key role on whether your website receives a click or gets ignored entirely for another website.
To see how your website is represented in a search engine you simply need to enter this search into the search engine replacing the example “domain.com” with your domain name:
Now you should be able to see all the indexed pages from the search engine usually starting with the most significant pages.
Here’s a live example of how the Hallam website appears on Google this very instance: site:hallam.co.uk
Filtering the listings for a single website
You can drill a little further into these single domain results by adding:
- Keywords after the site operator to find page with those keywords on such as “site:hallam.co.uk conversion optimisation“
- Negative keywords after the site operator to remove pages with a certain keyword such as “site:hallam.co.uk -ppc“
- Sub-directories after the site operator to just look at one sub-directory such as “site:hallam.co.uk/2014/“
- Other search operators after the site operator to filter results on other factors such as “site:hallam.co.uk inurl:analytics“
- Any combination of the above
What does a quality search engine listing look like?
Quality search engine listings have these common features:
- A page title which closely matches up to the relevant search query
- A page title which accurately describes the webpage contents (within the character limit)
- A page description which reflects the relevant search query
- A page description which entices the search engine user to click on the listing (within the character limit & on two lines)
- The page’s URL describing the page content (within the character limit)
If your search engine listings are not relevant, descriptive or within the character limits then this can have a negative effect on the click-through-rate of the listing. The click-through-rate is the percentage of people who click the listing when it appears within the search engine results.
Not happy with how your website is represented in the search engines?
You need to look at each page’s title and meta description tags as these two tags make up the individual search engine listings along with the URL of the webpage. These three key areas hidden with the webpage’s HTML code make up the search engine listings for each webpage.
We have produced several guides on optimising your title and meta description tags recently including:
- Top Tips For Title Tags
- How To Write A Killer Meta Description
The URL of the webpage gives another clue to the search engine user on what is page is about. A URL such as “domain.com/innerpage?=2” doesn’t give any clue to what the page is about whereas the URL “domain.com/unicorn-drawing-guide” clearly shows what the page’s topic is on.
The URLs of webpages are drawn into the search engine listings along with any category structures. Having a well structured website & URL structure will allow search engines to display ‘URL sitelinks’ underneath the results so search engine users can quickly jump to the right section of the website (see below for an example):
Are the search engines not displaying your current title and meta description tags correctly?
For some searches on certain web pages you will notice that the title shown is not the same as on the web page itself. You may also notice that the search engine has made up an entirely new page description not matching the one you have created using snippets from the page content.
There are several reasons why the search engines decided not to show your chosen page titles or description such as one or more factors below:
- The page title/description is not relevant to the page content
- The page title/description is not relevant to the search query
- The page title/description is too short or too long for the search engine listing spaces
- The page title/description may have been tweaked automatically – Google has recently shortened their displayed titles on search engine listings and we are seeing more and more evidence of Google rearranging title tags within their results to neaten them up or display the brand name more/less prominently. Page descriptions are also sometimes split tested by search engines alongside snippets from the page content to see which one receives the highest click-through-rate which is out of your control
Further enhancements to your search engine listings
Once you have resolved any search engine listing problems why not go the extra mile and enhance them further?
Making your search engine listing stick out from the rest has been proven to show significant increases in click-though-rates, below are a few ways you can enhance your search engine listings:
- Use Schema Markup to show star ratings, product information, event times, etc.:
- Use Google Authorship to display your Google+ profile image next to the result:
- Attract external backlinks to your pages to increase the number of meta description lines shown by search engines:
Search engine listings are the gateway to your website and you have a lot of control over the content within them. Getting them right will entice as many people as possible towards your website from search engines queries and as a bonus effect they can also enhance your search engine optimisation making a webpage rank higher for certain keyword searches.