When it comes to on-page optimization and increasing your conversion rates, you have to place the important things above the fold.
But being above the fold is not just for on-page optimization. You also need to be above the fold when it comes to search engine results.
People don’t scroll, and they are used to clicking on the first result they see, which usually means the top three search results. The site at the number one position can get nearly 35% of all the clicks.
As you can see, the second position gets just 12% while the third gets 9.5%, and it trickles down to 2.2% for the tenth position.
It’s important to rank high…but ranking high alone is not enough. You also have to make your link irresistible.
Here’s what you need to do.
Write click-worthy titles and descriptions
When it comes to writing titles for search engines, the first thing you have to know is this…you only have 65 characters to write your headline.
You could write the greatest headline, but if it’s over 65 characters, it will get cut off. This is what you will see:
Fortunately, the most important part of the headline is saved, but the rest is cut off. So keep it short.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind when creating click-worthy titles:
- Front-load your titles with keywords – You should front-load all of your keywords in your titles. People will typically only scan the first two words of a title.
- Keep it predictable – Your title should click-through to a page that meets the expectations of the user.
- Clear – The reader should know what your webpage is about in 65 characters or fewer.
- Make it emotional – Dan Shure wrote a great guide to writing titles, and one of his most important lessons is to make your titles emotional. See his SEOmoz article Are Your Titles Irresistibly Click-Worthy and Viral?! for great examples.
Create clean, focused, and optimized URLS
While your title tag needs to be emotional, your URL doesn’t. Let me show you what I mean.
Here is an example that Dan Shure used:
Avinash’s title tag is optimized for SEO and click rates. It’s optimized for SEO because of the keywords “digital marketing,” and it is optimized for click rates because of the words “change or perish,” which are very emotional, wouldn’t you agree?
His URL, however, does not include “change or perish.”
It doesn’t need to because it is only ranking for “digital marketing.”
How might you change this title tag to optimize it further? I’d rewrite it like this: “Digital Marketing: 2015 Rule Book. Change or Perish.”
That way you move the two keywords up front.
Write a great meta description
The meta description is the next element you must optimize.
If you view the source code, the tag looks like this:
<META NAME=“Description” CONTENT=“informative description here”>
If you use a WordPress plugin like All-in-One SEO Pack, you’ll get this form at the bottom of your blog editor:
Google has made this easy by giving you tips on how to create good descriptions. Here are the two most important:
- Make them descriptive – Front-load keywords that are relevant to the article. If you like formulas, ask “Who? What? Why? When? Where? How?” That’s a formula journalists use to report. It works equally well when writing descriptions.
- Make them unique – Each meta description should be different from other pages’ descriptions.
- Make them short – Google limits meta descriptions to 160 characters or fewer.
While meta description is not as important your heading is when it comes to getting clicks because people don’t seem to pay nearly as much attention to the description, it is still important from an SEO ranking perspective. So don’t ignore it!
Another big factor that is attracting attention when it comes to ranking above the fold is Google’s new authorship markup and Google+ search strategy.
You can accomplish some pretty amazing things when it comes to search rankings if you have an optimized Google+ account.
For instance, you can appear in these vanity searches above the fold:
And when you confirm you are the writer of your content across the web, you’ll improve click-throughs:
The combination of the picture and the hyperlinks “by Danny Sullivan” and “More by Danny Sullivan” will lead to more click-throughs over the content that doesn’t have those elements.
I’ve already written extensively on this topic, so if you want more information on it, read How to Create an Effective Google+ SEO Content Strategy.
Reducing the noise on the page
Good SEO involves good web design. That’s one of the latest trends in the SEO world, and you can’t ignore it if you want to rank above the fold on search engines.
Here are some basic tips on good SEO design to help you clean up your site:
- Reduce the clutter in your sidebar – While this is really meant to raise your conversion rate, this will also reduce the bounce rate. Too much clutter in the sidebar can drive people away…and when Google starts to notice the bounces, it might give your site a thumbs down.
- Reduce the ad space on your page – Too many ads can drive people away. Check your analytics to see which are your best performing ads, and only keep one or two of them.
- Keep ads below the fold – Last month Google announced its “Page Layout Improvement Algorithm,” which penalizes pages/sites that shove a bunch of ads to the top of the page. Google suggests you use their Browser Size Tool to see how much of your content is visible to visitors at first glance.
Drive links to important pages
You can’t expect a page to rank above the fold if you don’t have links going to the page you want to rank. And when it comes to links pointing to that page, authority links rule.
Read my Quick and Dirty Guide to Modern-Day Link Baiting for ideas on how to get a bunch of regular links.
Then read 10 Hard-Hitting Link Building Tactics That’ll Boost Your Rankings for some general tips on attracting even more links.
Add social sharing
Most SEO experts agree that social signals on the page level will impact search results:
So, if you want to take advantage of this growing impact of social media, then use these ten ways to get higher rankings through social sharing:
- Make share the buttons are very visible – Position these buttons in strategic places: side and bottom of page and use a scrolling widget, too. Also, limit the number of buttons you use. Too many can confuse people!
- Ask readers to share content – It’s been proven that your readers will do what you tell them to do.
- Tap the influencers – Create relationships with big names and get them to share your content.
- Use Triberr – This new social network amplifies your tweets immediately.
- Use sponsored Tweets – If you have a budget, spend a few dollars using this advertiser’s tool.
- Use Facebook’s Sponsored Stories – Sort of like Twitter’s sponsored tweets, but better.
- Create a worthy brand – Nobody wants to share content from someone who can’t be trusted. Focus your energy on creating a presence that people see as a trustworthy authority.
- Tap into your circles – Use your own personal network to share content.
- Bribe your followers – From offering links to using Cloudflood, you can get your readers to share content by paying them in some way or another.
- Produce great content – This is the number one rule!
Write great content
Last but not least, you can do all those things above, but if you don’t have great content, your pages will simply be buried under a ton of other results.
Take the time to create great content. These posts will help you do that:
- Neil Patel’s Guide to Blogging
- The Neil Patel Guide to Writing Blog Posts
- A Quick and Dirty Guide to Your First Guest Post
- Your How-To Post Will Fail If You Don’t Use These Techniques
- The 10 Golden Rules to Attracting Authority Links
- Forget Blogging as Usual: 5 Outrageous Tips for Super-Sized Attention
Ranking above the fold can mean the difference between a few thousand impressions to tens of thousands…if not hundreds of thousands…so it’s necessary that you create content that ranks high.
But you also have to create content that will actually convert impressions into clicks. Hopefully this guide has helped you do that.
What other tricks do you use to boost rankings above the fold and encourage click-throughs?