SEO Back to Basics – Optimising your Organic Listing

Alex Barrowclough
By Alex BarrowcloughSEO Manager
5 minutes to read

Back in February we talked about the change to the SERP’s where PPC ads were removed from the right hand side and were replaced with 4 ads seen at the top and up to 3 ads are displayed at the bottom under the organic results (read that article here). With these recent changes in mind it’s getting more and more important to optimise the organic listings so that you appear in the top half of the SERP’s.

The process of optimising your organic listing is a lot like the creation of PPC ads. Your organic listing should be something that stands out to the audience and entice the user to click into your site. There are lots of things to consider and I have put a few important steps below:

Understand the SERP’s

Before anything it is vital to understand the search results, this means you should be aware of the types of pages and content that appear for the keywords you are trying to optimise for. For example if you were to search for ‘how to make chocolate chip cookies’, you would expect to find informational blog posts that include recipes and cooking guides.

Page Title

This is something that is often overlooked but still considered to be one of the key ranking signals. The page title is hugely important as it is the first and best chance to catch the users attention. It’s important to include your target keywords within the first 4 words however try to be more inventive with your title and make it interesting. For example ‘Make the Best Chocolate Cookies In 10 Mins’. Including a USP or standout piece of information is something to consider to. Take a look at these examples, which would you be more likely to click on?

From a technical point of view your page titles should be should be between 50-60 characters long however this varies based on the spaces, symbols and capitals that are used. This preview tool from Moz is an excellent way to get a glimpse of your page title.

Meta Description

The meta description is displayed under the page title in the organic listing. The description should give a brief explanation of the page. This is a second opportunity to entice the user on to the page and is not to be overlooked.

Like the page title, the meta description should include the target keyword and should be between 150 and 160 characters long. Anything longer maybe cut off in the display and not visible to the user.

Target URL

When creating content you should ensure that your URLs are not only search friendly, but also easily memorable so that they are more user friendly. To do this you should include your focus keyword and follow a logical structure. For our chocolate cookies we would create something like this:

Schema Mark Up

Although its not a requirement for a web page, Schema Markup is another way to further enhance your organic listings. Schema Markup enables you to highlight information on your pages which you see as important and give indicators that the search engine use to pull relevant information into the search results.  Some of the options include Pricing, Review Star Ratings, Testimonials, Stock Availability, Video Content and much more. To apply Schema Markup you can use the Google highlighter tool located in the Google Search Console or if you have access to a development team you can also use Schema.org and hard code it into your site.

The mark up appears as grey text just above your meta description. For example if you were to apply mark up to the chocolate cookies page you would consider using mark up properties such as: ratings, reviews, timings, calories or images, as used in the example above.

 

We are told that there are over 200 elements to the Google Ranking Algorithms, while you would not be able to tick every box, hopefully this article has helped you understand some of the fundamentals of optimising your Organic Search Listings.

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Articles by Alex Barrowclough

Hey I'm Alex! I am an SEO Manager at Enjoy Digital. Love to talk about the ever changing digital industry, focusing on organic and paid search.