Bringing in Visitors with Free Online Ads

by Wiz

Are your online ads bringing the visitors you’re looking for? Oh, you’re not running online ads?

Um . . . yes you are.

If any of your pages are indexed in search engines and displayed in search results, then you’re essentially running ads. Your link is positioned on a search results page with 8-10 other links, along with pictures and paid advertising.

Just “showing up” isn’t good enough

Talk to many of the SEO practitioners out there, and you’ll likely hear discussions of “getting your pages ranked.” You’ll need “keywords” in your copy and in your meta tags so your site will “show up in the search results.” Which, of course, is important: your link can’t be seen by searchers if it’s not there.

olympic medals

But what happens next?

The job’s not over when you’re in the search results. Now comes the hardest part- in a few seconds, you have to make your link – your “ad” – stand out from all the others. It’s got to reach out to your ideal visitor and proudly proclaim, “Here I am – pick me! I’m the winner!”

So how do you do that?

Well, one way (and yes, this is only one way) is to make use of the meta description tag on your page. This tag allows you to speak directly to the person looking at the search results. It’s often used by SEO-types in an attempt to force a page to be shown for certain keywords. But an even better use for it is as a differentiator – to make your search result listing (again, your “ad”) – stand out and get noticed.

Let’s look at a couple of examples. I ran a search recently on “aircraft fasteners” – here are some results:

serp comparison

Both of these entries point to the home page of their respective sites. The meta description text is in the black text (assuming the tag is actually in use on the page – otherwise the search engine grabs a snippet of the page’s copy). Notice how these look a lot like ads? Which one would you pick?

Of course, the answer depends on what you’re looking for. The “small, woman owned business” is interesting, and indeed a differentiator. So if that matters to you, or if you’re a government agency looking to strategically partner with such a business, this could be very relevant. However, if you’re a purchaser and looking for a source of supply, you may be more interested in the second site.

Let’s look at a couple of search results pointing to product pages:

two more text ads

The top entry takes up about half the allotted space repeating the company’s name, and the rest of it is rather generic wording. The second entry, however, gives more of an idea of what I’ll expect to find, and even promises a catalog. This might be more interesting to a buyer.

There is no “right” answer

I don’t want to mislead you – there is no “right” or “wrong” way to craft these – it all depends on whom you’re trying to reach. But with just a little thought and some creativity, your organic “ads” can take the gold medal at the “touch your ideal visitor” games!

Disclaimer: Admittedly, this technique doesn’t always work. Due to misuse, many search engines are giving less credence to the meta description tag. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it for at least: 1) your most important pages: and 2) the pages from which you receive the most search traffic.

Photo credit: Quite Adept

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