Aggregation Aggravation, Part 3: Clickability

Ian Lurie

This is part 3 of a 5-part series on the changing face of search. See the links at the bottom to read Parts 1 and 2

In a world of aggregators, you can still get visitors to your web site. It’s all about clickability. But before I get to the details, I have to say…
Told ya so! I’ve always said SEO and internet marketing are about marketing basics. And now these fundamentals are even more important: You need a good message and great copy just to get folks to click to your site. Mwahahahaha. My evil dreams of an old-school marketing smackdown are coming true!
K. I’m done.
Now, we’ll talk about…


The best SEOs have known about clickability for a long time. It’s the real reason they care about ‘search friendly’ urls and meta description tags: An easy-to-read URL and a great description tag will get more folks to click on your ranking.
A clickable search listing will:

  • Clearly describe what I’m going to see when I click;
  • Make me want to see it;
  • Inspire confidence in the site to which I’ll go.

Here’s an example: Today, I installed Windows 7 on my Mac using a program called Parallels. First, though, I wanted to see if it was possible, so I searched for ‘Windows 7 Parallels OS X’. Here’s what I saw:
A glance at the Parallels listing to implies I can’t do it. It sure isn’t encouraging. Luckily another site does a better job selling me on Parallels than does. As you learned yesterday, Google grabbed the title and description tags on SimpleHelp and built a search snippet I could sink my teeth into.
After visiting the SimpleHelp site I not only learned I could install Windows 7, I bought an upgrade to Parallels. Guys, you owe SimpleHelp a commission.
That’s clickability in action.

On Google and Yahoo!, it’s easy (sort of)

On Google, you ‘just’ need a well crafted title and description tag. Then you need to hope Googlebot grabs those and not some other randomness.

Note that the SimpleHelp site doesn’t actually have a description tag. Luckily, Google grabbed the first relevant copy, which is a darned good description.

If Parallels wants to get more OS X geeks installing their software, they could write a how-to for installing Windows 7 using Parallels 4. Then give it a clear title tag like:
Installing Windows 7 on OS X Using Parallels 4.0
And add a description tag that reads:
Run Windows 7 on your Mac (with no reboot!) with Parallels 4.0. Click here to read step-by-step installation and setup instructions.
The title tag tells me what I’m going to see. The description tag clarifies it a bit and adds the ‘with no reboot’ – that’s a cool feature. And the lack of phrases like “don’t upgrade” and “opens beta signup” inspires confidence.
Yahoo!’s similar, if a bit more quirky thanks to the Yahoo! Directory. See yesterday’s post for ways to force Yahoo! to ignore the directory.

Bing Will Make You Market Yourself

Bing throws adds a variable with their page preview, which it pulls right from the copy on your page:
Bing uses the first copy it finds on the page. That means (gasp) that you need to start with a clear description of your product (or service) and its benefits.
Once again, SimpleHelp carries the day:
They’re number 6 on the page, but I’ll bet they get more clicks than the #2-5 listings, which are mostly from the Parallels site and have previews like ‘To Install Windows to the VM using CD/DVD file image’.
The SimpleHelp site gets a great preview because Bing grabbed the first sentence on the page as the search snippet (since there was no description tag) and then continued on down the page for the page preview:
Bing requires fantastic marketing copy. You must – must – get right to the point: In the first 2-3 sentences on your page, state what you’re going to do for the reader and how.
And those first few sentences must:

  • Clearly describe what I’m going to see;
  • Make me want to see it;
  • Inspire confidence in the site.

Sound familiar?

Deja Vu All Over Again

The best sales letters have always used this principle. Grab the reader with your headline and first paragraph. Then explain the details.
So get retro. Put on a nice smoking jacket, read some David Ogilvy and learn how to market the old-fashioned way: With great copy. Your SEO will be the better for it.

Previously in the series

Controlling what shows up (as much as you can)
Making Folks Click: Content’s back, baby!
Opting Out
Microformats, sorting and other nightmares

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  1. Cooool!! Love this!
    OK, I went to Bing this morning and typed in some search terms (both long- and short-tail) relevant to the ecommerce site I write for.
    Our site popped up on the first page every time…and sometimes as the first result. And sure enough, those little boogers had scraped some of my deathless prose, LOL!
    Too bad nobody’s heard of Bing. Oh well…;)

  2. I gotta say… I just don’t agree with Bing. Sometimes you need to “create the buying environment,” according to Joseph Sugarman, longtime direct marketing copywriter. You might not get to the product until the time is right.
    Plus, don’t SEO to the point of making your site less usable. I know you’re not suggesting that.

  3. I love Bing aside from the ridiculously irrelevant page snippets they provide. My site has a drop-down navigation at the top and Bing pulls the text from that which just looks ridiculous. And I’ve seen more sites than not with this same issue in regards to Bing. Not necessarily drop-down menus, but Bing pulling up text irrelevant to the page and user.
    The page could very well be highly relevant and just what the user is searching for. But who would know with their idiotic way of pulling text.

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