Are questions in search results more clickable?

A question is an invitation to find out more about something. We read a question, and the natural response is to answer that question. Maybe it's just me, but I quite like the idea of someone subconsciously thinking "yes" while reading my search result.

Want to lose 10kg while sitting at your computer desk?

You bet. I have answered YES to the question, so now it's time to think about whether I believe the claims enough to click on that particular site.

Questions in search results

Michael Brandon of SearchMasters has convinced me that asking a question in a search result is a great way to operate. While I don't have any direct evidence to support my claims, I think posing the right question in a search result does increase clickthrough.

Sick of SEO consultants that only focus on Adwords and not your organic results? Find out why COMPANY NAME are leaders in Organic SEO.

The above 135 characters of text could be used quite nicely as a meta description on a site that wants to rank for "organic seo". If you want this text to appear as the snippet of a Google result, then there are a few small things you need to do...

  1. Ensure the text is less than 156 characters, the size of a Google snippet.
  2. Ensure the phrase you want to target appears in the text, and variants of the phrase if you have room.
  3. Pose your question, and cunningly lure the visitor into your site.

Targeting your competitors

Most people who ask me about SEO would quite like to rank for the name of their competition. But nobody wants to mention their competition on their site.

Looking for (competitor name) SEO Services? Consider our lower priced alternative, which includes a free consultation and links package valued at $199.

The above text could be used on your homepage, it doesn't need to be in your meta description. Don't put this text in pride of place, but place it below the fold where it's not easily noticed (don't even think of using hidden text or alt tags).

The beauty of this is that it can potentially rank in the top 10 for the competitor's name if you point some targeted link text at your homepage. You won't expect to rank #1 of course, but if you rank at #2 and have the question in the snippet, you grab people's attention, and grab traffic.
A few points to note...
  • Don't be surprised if this behaviour pisses off your competition. Personally, I try to get along with people wherever possible so this tactic isn't something I use a lot.
  • I'm not a lawyer, but I think it's ok to optimize your site for your competitor's name providing you don't say anything misleading or untrue, and don't copy any of their content. Review sites and directories frequently rank well for the names of other businesses.
  • Brand name searches are huge. It never ceases to amaze me how many end users never use the address bar (they use Google for EVERYTHING).

Any questions?

Try adding a question to some of your meta descriptions and titles and see if you notice the difference in clickthroughs. I like ranking top, but I also like to make sure my search result is attractive, sales oriented and begs the user to click it.

Good rankings combined with good search results is a winning formula.
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