When Google lists your page, it lists a “snippet” — a small excerpt of your content. This snippet will be one of two things:
- Your META description tag. On Squidoo, this is the first 255 characters of the lens introduction.
- OR: an excerpt from your page showing the first instance (usually) of the keyword the Google user searched for.
You can’t predict what people will search for. But you should at least do a command-F when viewing your article to see where your top keywords appear. Do the few words on either side of it make someone feel that your article is useful, relevant, and may possibly answer their questions? Or are they vague, poorly written, and don’t give a good impression of what your page is like?
Also, do this for your business name or blog name. Here’s an example. My main mythology blog, Mythphile, gets enough Google love to receive the special Google table-of-contents treatment. (Search for Mythphile and you’ll see what I mean.)
However, recently I finally clued into the snippet description that was showing in search results. I forgot to take a screenshot, but what it said was:
WHOOPS! That doesn’t tell us a THING about this blog or the content on the page. That’s from the footer at the bottom of the blog. Apparently, I don’t have the blog’s name anywhere on the blog except in the Header and navigation links (e.g. “What Is Mythphile?”), and the snippet tool does NOT excerpt the header, when it’s one word and too short to be a useful snippet.
So I ran to my blog template and added a widget in the upper righthand corner of the sidebar. Now that blurb is what displays in the Google snippet:
What Is Mythphile? Mythphile is a blog exploring the intersection between mythology and modern culture, timeless symbols and current events.
Moral: Make sure that the first instance of your top keyword, username, and brand name/business name/blog name appear in a meaningful sentence, because that’s likely going to be the only data web searchers have to go on when trying to decide whether to click your link in a page of search results.
Yes, this is yet another example of my SEO axiom, “Make Search Results SEXY!”