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When I search for a topic in a search engine, I don’t always click on the top listing. I scan the titles and results for what seems relevant and interesting. If you want people to come to your site AFTER you are ranking well in the SERPS (search engine results pages), you need relevant and interesting content in the SERPS.

A search engine result consists of a title, description and URL. The URL that shows up is chosen by the search engines but can be influenced by how you link to your site. The other two pieces of information are also chosen by the search engines, but they can be influenced by using several different methods. Yahoo and MSN will usually use the meta description and title for your listing in the search result. Google is more arbitrary with how they display search results and will sometimes use your meta description, but will often pull a snippet of text from elsewhere on your page, depending on the search keywords. When writing the meta descriptions and titles for your site, keep in mind that your site will be judged by these in the SERPS. The better your listing looks, the better chance you have of getting people to click through.

When writing your titles make sure they are:

  1. No longer than 70 characters
  2. Relevant to the page and compel the reader to find out more
  3. Comfortable in their keyword usage

When writing meta descriptions they should:

  1. Be no longer than 160 characters
  2. Contain a call to action
  3. Entice the reader to find out more
  4. Read smoothly

Concise titles and meta descriptions will keep your fine work from getting truncated by the search engines. Don’t underestimate the value of a well-written title and description and always take the time to write good titles and descriptions. Never leave your titles or descriptions blank.

If your site has a link in DMOZ or the Yahoo Directory, the title of that listing is sometimes used as the title in the SERPS. If you would rather have your normal title show up all the time rather than the DMOZ or Yahoo directory title, you should include the following meta tag on your site.

<meta name=”robots” content=”noodp,noydir”>

“Noodp” refers to the DMOZ and “noydir” refers to the Yahoo Directory. This code applies to all search engine bots that use DMOZ or Yahoo directory listing data.

Finally, there is the topic of sitelinks. Sitelinks typically appear when someone performs a navigational search for your company or site name. Google determines what shows up in those links by looking at how the site links internally. Google tries to show the most prominent pages of the site to make it easier for the searcher to find the specific page of the site they are looking for. Although you don’t have complete control over your site’s sitelinks, if there is a page showing up in the sitelinks that you don’t want to show up, you can remove it through your Webmaster tools account.

So if you want people to click through to your site you need to have something good on the SERPS pages. If you don’t have something good then get in the game and make some changes to make your listing more clickable.