There are many ways to tweak a website to provide a boost in click-through rate from Google’s search results. This article expands on a previous blog post and will cover four ways to help maximize the return on content already available and on your website!

Making the changes below should help ensure your website stands out from the regular listings and, in return, increase traffic.

Get listed in Google+ local

The listings for Google Places, now Google+ Local, show an address, phone number, number of reviews, opening times, images, transport links, and map location alongside the listing so can be a very powerful way to attract attention compared to standard listings.

An example of Google+ Local listing is below:
Google plus local

The first and very important step is to create a Google+ Local page and verify by telephone or snailmail.
There is no guarenteed way to get included in Google’s places results, but there are three things which can greatly increase the chance.

    1. Encourage reviews on your Google+ Local page from customers.
    2. Increase quality links to your website and Google places listing.
    3. Add a Google +1 button to your website.

Displaying a profile picture in results

You can have an avatar image shown next to search results by linking your Google+ profile to your website as shown below:
Google plus profile

The name shown next to the profile picture will link to your Google+ profile and may also include metrics such as number of +1s. This is done in two steps: adding a link to your Google+ profile and linking from your profile to your website. Google have created a handy walkthrough on how to link the profile and website, so I will regurgitate it below for reference…

  • Create a link to your Google+ profile from your webpage, like this:
    <a href="[profile_url]?rel=author">Google</a>
  • Replace [profile_url] with the your Google+ profile URL, like this:
    <a href="">Google</a>

    Your link must contain the ?rel=author parameter. If it’s missing, Google won’t be able to associate your content with your Google+ profile.

  • Add a reciprocal link back from your profile to the site(s) you just updated.
  • Edit the Contributor To section.
  • In the dialog that appears, click Add custom link, and then enter the website URL.
  • If you want, click the drop-down list to specify who can see the link.
  • Click Save.

The only restriction of note is the profile picture must be a headshot: “If you want your authorship information to appear in search results for the content you create, you’ll need a Google+ Profile with a good, recognizable headshot as your profile photo.”

Show a video preview in search results

Google may show a thumbnail preview next to the search result if there is a video on a page, as shown below:
video preview in google results

Google recommends two things to help correct indexation of videos:

  1. Schema formatting
  2. Video sitemaps

It can be somewhat time consuming to add the code to static pages but any dynamic system, such as WordPress, should be fairly simple. An example of the correct code to use is below:

<div itemprop="video" itemscope itemtype="">
<h2>Video: <span itemprop="name">Title</span></h2>
<meta itemprop="duration" content="T1M33S" />
<meta itemprop="thumbnailUrl" content="thumbnail.jpg" />
<meta itemprop="contentURL" content="" />
<meta itemprop="embedURL" content="" />
<meta itemprop="uploadDate" content="2011-07-05T08:00:00+08:00" />
<meta itemprop="expires" content="2012-01-30T19:00:00+08:00" />
<object ...>
<param ...>
<embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" ...>
<span itemprop="description">Video description</span>

Sitemaps can be generated using several methods, such as plugins and in-built CMS options but is a fairly reliable way if you are stuck.

Because Google owns YouTube it seems logical that videos hosted by them would be preferred to other video hosting providers, which certainly seems to be the case.

Star ratings in search results

Star ratings can used for a wide range of subjects such as product reviews or customer feedback and are shown for search results as shown below:
star ratings in search results

This can be done by representing the votes or reviews using a variety of data and Google will try to understand it, so it helps to give it a hand. A simple example is below:

<span>L’Amourita Pizza</span>
<img src="pizza.jpg" alt="" />
<span>9</span> out of <span>10</span>
based on <span>24</span> ratings.
<span>5</span> user reviews.

Having reviews on a page but not allowing anyone to review a product could cause them to be ignored or even incur a penalty, so trying to trick the algorithm isn’t worth it!

Did it work?

You can test all of the above changes to see how they will look, once indexed, with Google’s Rich Snippet testing tool
If your competitors are being sneaky, you can report snippet spam here

Please comment below if you think I have missed anything or you have any recommendations. If you use Twitter, you can follow me on Twitter @mradamdavies or Google+ here