5 Ways to Make Your Meta Tags Truly Irresistible to Click

4619958228_e5592f3dfa_zI’m sure you’ll agree:

SEO isn’t just about rankings.

Sure, you aim to increase a website’s search visibility by positioning it higher in SERPs.

Yet your ultimate goal is to gain more organic traffic, right?

But did you know:

Higher rankings not necessarily mean greater traffic.

For one, unless searchers find your listing relevant, they’ll skip to the next one that attracts their attention.

And that’s regardless whether it ranks higher or lower than yours.

So how do you ensure that your listing stands out and attracts clicks?

In the simplest way possible – by making your title and description tags irresistible to click.

You probably know this already:

  • The title tag is the second most important piece of content on a page.
  • It’s what search engines use to learn the topic of the page.
  • It also sends a strong relevancy signal and is thus one of the key on-page SEO signals.

It’s no different with the meta-description tag. Although it seems to have lost its SEO significance, many SEO still believe it sends some relevancy signal to Google.

But since search engines use them to create search listings, you should focus on improving them both to attract and convince users to click to your site.

And here are some suggestions how.

Be strategic where you post keywords in the title

There’s no doubt about it:

Title tag is one of the strongest search engine ranking factors.

By simply including the keyword in the title tag you can send a strong relevancy signal telling search engines what the page is about.


Did you know that where you put the keyword and how you structure it will also affect the page’s performance?

In this research for instance, CPC strategy discovered that Google weights keywords from left to right.

And thus, it gives words to the left of the title more value than those to the right.

Sure, this research was conducted in relation to PLA ads rather than organic listings. But I believe the same principle relates to search listings too.

Therefore, when writing your titles, position the most important words relating to a search quoery you’re aiming to rank for at the start of the title tag.

But there is another reason for doing it.

According to this research by Jakob Nielsen, people will generally scan the first 2 words of any list item (i.e. a search engine listing) looking for relevancy cues.

This means that the more relevant your title is to the user query, the more likely it is that users will notice it.

Use negative superlatives to attract the searcher’s eye

You know:

It’s almost tempting to write titles including positive superlatives like “best”, “always” and others.

But, according to Outbrain, they’re bound to perform much worse than if you included their opposites instead.

In this research, Outbrain discovered that titles with positive superlatives performed 29% worse than ones with negative superlatives (“never”, “worst”).


(Image courtesy of Outbrain)

What’s more, according to the same research:

“The average click-through rate on headlines with negative superlatives was a staggering 63% higher than that of their positive counterparts.”

Therefore, when writing title tags for blog posts for example, consider testing negative superlatives to see if they help attract more clicks.

Use trigger words in descriptions

Trigger words are words customers tend to respond better to than others.

According to some research, the 5 most persuasive trigger words in English are:

  • You,
  • Free,
  • Because ,
  • Instantly,
  • New.

The word “you” or your name for instance creates a personal connection.

According to a research by the Institute for the Study of Child Development certain regions of our brains activate when we see our names in print or on screen.

“Free” might suggest an incentive and get customers interested.

“Because” catches the attention because it indicates an explanation while “New” suggests something exclusive.

In one test, social psychologist Ellen Langer tested the power of words in an experiment where she asked if she could cut in a line at the copy machine.


Notice the results after adding the word “because” followed by an explanation.

Sure, you won’t be able to always use trigger words in description tags. But try to include them whenever possible to entice a positive reaction from searchers.

Target the searcher’s curiosity

Your title tag is almost set in stone.

It has to include no more than X characters, a keyword and often your location too.

That leaves very little room for creativity there.

But your description is an open book.

For instance, you could write it to invoke the searcher’s curiosity.


We humans are naturally curious.

This tendency to always be in the know manifests itself even in almost every aspect of our daily lives (after all, who doesn’t turn around after hearing car horn going on?).

And you can use it to entice more users to your search listings.

Start your descriptions with phrases like:

  • Learn how to…
  • Find out if / how…
  • Discover…
  • Would you ever…
  • Did you know…

There is also a method to make this technique even more powerful – use curiosity gap.

With curiosity gap you’re not trying to make a reader curious about things they yet don’t know. According to a lot of research, we are in fact not as curious about something we know nothing about.

But if we discover that our current knowledge is plagued, we immediately want to know more, i.e.

  • “Find out why you’re not getting a high CTR from your Google rankings.”
  • “Discover 21 things you’re not doing to improve your organic search CTR”

Use Numerals

You see:

Numbers presented in numerals are ideal when you’re trying to attract attention.

First, they stop a wandering eye. According to Jakob Nielsen, a group of numbers will always stand out on a page, even if it’s surrounded by a mass of text.

Take 2015 as example. It’s more visible than four and yet both have the same amount of characters.

Numbers also represent facts.

As Nielsen points:

“Facts are something users typically relish.”

When people are looking for specific facts – product specifications, size information or discounts, numbers written in numerals stand out for them attracting their attention.


Creative commons photo: jshj / Flickr

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