Making the Most of Search Engine Copywriting

How you deliver the information you’re enticing people to read and click on is paramount to garnering a good following, good conversions, and good karma in the online space. Small business owners must be aware of what their ad copy promises, and how they deliver on those promises. Today, we’ll look at a real-life example of poor delivery — and some tips on how to make sure your potential customers are satisfied and happy with what you are delivering.

The other day, I was searching for information about taking my kids on a cruise. Ignoring the cruise lines’ marketing-speak about how kid-friendly their ships and youth programs are, I Googled “kid friendly cruises” and “cruises with kids.”

The results I saw were sort of, well, meh. I found one nice organic listing:

Good Organic Listing

Unfortunately, I clicked through and had to register and login to see the list of “Kid-Friendly Cruises.” This site didn’t deliver on what its copy promised. Epic FAIL.

Register/Log-In To See Kid-Friendly Cruises

Whether it’s organic page titles and meta descriptions or PPC ads, it’s your job, as someone who’s seeking a conversion, to deliver what you promised. Here are some dos and don’ts for making the most of your limited real estate.

Organic Copy

Your page title is THE opportunity to set your organic listing apart from the competition. Make sure you’re using your best keyword phrase for the content on that page, and putting it toward the front of the page title.

I always suggest to trainees that they search the phrase they’re optimizing for, and style their page title somewhat differently than what’s already ranking. Here’s an example:

Organic Listings for Miami Beach Hotel

This section of search engine results is for the query “Miami beach hotel” Does one stand out? It’s subtle, but it’s effective.

Miami Beach Hotel Organic Listing

This result has the keyword at the beginning of the page title, uses a tilde instead of pipes, and contains the phone number. Nobody else in the top 20 for this query styles their page title like this. It could be the “make or break” difference in click-throughs for this page.

The next component of your organic listing is the meta description. In most cases, Google displays the meta-description for a page in the organic listing. (Be sure you’re using the NOODP tag so they don’t pull the description from DMOZ.)

Use a call to action in your description, and also make sure you’re using your keyword phrase again. In our “Miami beach hotel” example, you can see the call to action; “Make your Miami beach hotel reservations today” and the bolded keyword phrase in the description text. By including your keyword phrase in your description, you’re reinforcing to the searcher that your listing is related to the query they’ve made.

It’s important to be cognizant of the descriptions you use in relation to what the page offers. Don’t mislead your visitor. In the example above for the “kid friendly cruise” listing, I felt mislead. I was promised information on “how to find a kid-friendly cruise line” and instead my click was met with a login or signup form. Don’t do that to your readers. Deliver them the content they seek, and offer an opportunity to keep them updated on new things in a newsletter sign-up in the sidebar, or elsewhere on the page of content you’ve promised.

Paid Ad Copy

When it comes to PPC ads, it’s important to make sure those clicks are paying for themselves and resulting in conversions.

You have very limited real estate (a total of 95 characters, including spaces) to deliver your message. You need to have a strategy to address the best way to approach writing those ads.

Make sure to use your keyword phrase in your PPC ad. Create a separate ad group for every keyword phrase and write a unique ad for each, or use dynamic keyword insertion. There are pros and cons to using dynamic keyword insertion, which fellow SEW Expert David Szetela covered in “Dynamic Keyword Insertion: Friend or Foe?

Miami Beach PPC Ads

When we look at the PPC ads from Google for our “Miami beach hotel” query, we see some good ad titles, but only one ad that follows our rules of using keyword phrases in the title, ad copy, and taking advantage of a call to action. does a great job here.

The ad for could be improved upon. Here’s how I’d fix it:

Miami Beach Hotel Riu
Miami Beach — Luxury Oceanfront
Hotel. Book Specials from $99

By clarifying the text, adding in keywords to entice the eye, and using a call to action, we’ve turned an unappealing ad, with what I assume is a poor CTR, into something that delivers information the searcher needs, based on the query they’ve made.

Don’t ignore your best real estate in search engine queries. A little bit of your valuable small-business owner time can go a long way — so make sure you’re investing that time where it really counts. Make sure your Web site delivers the content your ad text promises. The ROI on that time will be worth it if you do things the right way from the beginning.

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