As an SEO consultant for more than a decade, I have found that these subtle techniques work well when applied to a clearly defined issue. Even one or two small changes could make a difference in the results you’re seeing.

1. Look at the search results page for your keyword and evaluate things

If there are plenty of ads for your keyword, consider how engaging the ads are for your ideal prospect. If an ad is engaging, how can you use a similar hook in your organic listing?
Successful PPC marketers use a feature-benefit matrix to write engaging ads. WordStream and Hanapin Marketing wrote the ebook Tricks To Get The Click. Their #1 tip is to include features, benefits and a call to action (CTA).
The Feature-Benefit Matrix
List your feature on the left, then a few benefits of that feature. On the right, you create a compelling CTA. When done, identify your strongest combination and write your ad.

You can use this exact process for writing meta descriptions since it’s critical to sell the click with organic search listings as with PPC ads and then prepare more detailed landing page descriptions.

Keep in mind that meta descriptions are not used by search engines for ranking purposes per se, but bounce rates and click-through rates (CTRs) are measured by search engines.

If your organic listing is getting lots of impressions but a low CTR, that means you need to be more engaging for that search term. I’ve seen plenty of cases where the top-ranked listing did not get the most clicks simply because it was not as engaging.

In general, organic search results are more trusted (and clicked more often) than sponsored listings, although there are exceptions to this, such as health care and financial services.

Pick your battles carefully by identifying keywords that bring in business results – there are four buckets of keywords to consider for SEO:

  • Converting keywords that rank well
  • Converting keywords that do not rank well
  • Newly discovered keywords that convert
  • Keywords that rank well but do not convert

To sort your keywords into each bucket, you’ll need access to Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools and web analytics data, such as Google Analytics. In my ebook Revenue-based SEO, I explain how I uncover the keywords in each bucket.

2. Prepare your content for the mindset of the searcher

Serve the mindset of the searcher

Isn’t it annoying when a page/video/app of your site outranks the page you want ranking well for that search term? Does horn-mad come to mind? Depending on the search term, Google may consider a certain page/video/image/app of your site a better match for the intent of the searcher than the optimized page.

In this case, it’s important to understand the mindset of searchers who use the keywords you are targeting and to prepare content for those intentions that align best with your business; clearly describe what people should expect from consuming that content. Use similar, related search terms on the page and related web pages of your site. LSI Graph is a keyword generator tool that can help you find plenty of similar search terms.

3. Improve your CTR (click-through rate) with action words and identifiers in title and description tags

Action words boost CTRs

Action and identifier words attract the people who are in the proper mindset for your product, service or content and they discourage clicks from people who do not. This is one way to prevent people from bouncing off your site back to a search results page (high bounce rates from your site are not a good signal to give the search engines).

Action words tell a person searching what they will do on the landing page of your site:

  • Buy
  • Purchase
  • Lease
  • For sale
  • Rent
  • Start
  • Stop
  • Build
  • Grow
  • Join
  • Learn
  • Discover
  • How-to

Identifier words attract people who are in decision mode and aren’t sure what to do yet:

  • Webinar
  • Interview
  • Whitepaper
  • Demo
  • Review
  • Tutorial
  • Comparison
  • Guide
  • Case study
  • Report
  • Opinion
  • Video

4. Clearly display the credibility of your business throughout your site and in various ways

100% Certified

Ever feel like you can’t compete with the big names in your industry? Small businesses can and do go for the SEO gold because of online credibility!

Google considers a certain page or site a better match for a search term because it has more expertise, authority or trust associated with it over other pages or sites. The author of the content (whether an individual or business) might have appropriate accreditation, credentials or be considered an expert source on the topic.

If you don’t already have an expert source on board, get one – and see to it that the content is promoted, endorsed and earns links from other reputable sources.

Additionally, share things like:

  • Endorsements from reputable people, businesses and reporters
  • Awards your business has earned
  • Media coverage
  • Community service
  • Proof of results

For more about online credibility and Google search quality:

5. Encourage people to leave comments, opinions, ratings, reviews

Get feedback, comments, reviews, etc.

Plenty of positive ratings, reviews and testimonials tell people and search engines that customers like your business, so add the appropriate schema markup since search engines often display this information in search results. It has been proven that search listings with a positive star rating get more clicks than those that do not.

Content that has lots of interaction – such as plenty of legitimate comments, tons of social voting, etc. – tends to get noticed by search engines. The positive interaction can increase the page’s ranking and the comments themselves contain keywords.

What can you do to earn more audience interaction and engagement?

  • Ask for feedback at opportune times and make it easy to provide
  • Emulate those publishers in your space who do well at getting lots of comments
  • Try a new audience-building strategy
  • Deploy or upgrade your rating/reviews plan so that it collects positive reviews at a rate of 25% or better
  • Make your titles intriguing – use headline analyzer tools like Coschedule’s
  • Add interesting, shareable images or video that enhance what you are communicating
  • Promote your content and get influencers in your industry to promote it as well

6. Build a trusted brand

Trusted community

Rather than looking for a shortcut to get to the top, or hustling after SEO tips and tricks, you will do far better by focusing on:

7. Update old content that performed well in the past

Update outdated content

Good content from the past can grow stale and fall in search rank for many reasons, like:

  • Dates on the page are not current
  • Images and screenshots look dated
  • Common questions from readers were not addressed
  • Content does not reflect the latest thinking or technology in your industry

First, identify under-performing content: pages where organic traffic has dropped, as well as good content that can be better.

Second, improve and update that content. Now might be a good time to get a professional writer involved.

Third, republish (with the current date) and promote it.

Learn more about this technique.

Want to go deeper to deploy and manage SEO efficiently? Download one of these ebooks:

Which of these 7 techniques seems most beneficial for your site? I’d love to hear about your results! Leave a comment below (it can improve this post in the SERPs 🙂 and I like interacting with my readers).

Tom Shivers
Tom Shivers

I'm a ecommerce SEO consultant and President of Capture Commerce. I've managed digital marketing campaigns for scores of clients since 2000 and found that every business is unique with its own challenges and opportunities. When I see that I have contributed to the success of a business by helping them grow, it makes me feel awesome! That’s the coolest thing and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do this.