Full Screen

Pre-click Optimization

More Free Lessons in

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) View All →

Get cutting-edge digital marketing skills, know-how and strategy

This micro lesson is from one of our globally recognized digital marketing courses.

Start a FREE Course Preview Start a FREE Course Preview
Global Authority

The Global Authority

12 years delivering excellence


245,000+ Members

Join a global community


Associate Certification

Globally recognised


Membership Included

Toolkits, content & more

Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Pre-click and post-click optimization

We’re going to look at on-page optimization and we’re going to break this up into two areas.

Pre-click optimization

So the user enters a keyword into a search engine and you’ll get the search engine results that come up. Consider anything that you see in those search engine results, such as the title tag, the URL, and the meta description. This is pre-click, because it happens before the user clicks.

So that’s pre-click optimization and one of the goals there is to make the title, the description, and the URL enticing. You’re going to want them to click.


The second part is everything else that the user sees when they visit your page.

Portent’s SERP Preview tool

For pre-click optimization there’s a really good tool that you can use, which is called the Portent SERP Preview Tool. And the reason that this tool is good is it allows you to enter a title tag and meta description and a URL, and it will recreate what that would look like in Google. So you’ll know how long it should be, the title, and the meta description, you’ll be able to visually see whether it looks engaging, and it’s a great tool to use.

I entered this in for Amazon. Even though Amazon does very well in SEO, and they do great, their meta description is a bit long, their title tag is a little bit long. So even some guys who do really, really good stuff with SEO, they’re not getting everything right and that’s something that we’re going to use in this section.

Title tags

Here are some things that can go wrong with title tags:

  • You stuff keywords into them.
  • You can make them too long, so they get truncated and don’t show up in the search results.
  • They lack targeted keywords.
  • Maybe you’ve just done nothing at all.

And, in this example, it looks like what’s happened is someone has just tried to put in all the keywords that they want to rank for, and it looks a bit fake. It looks like keywords have been stuffed. So this is not good approach to take.

Let’s have a look at this title tag. We’ve got twin air size mattresses and blow-up air beds, and we’ve got the brand at the end, which is called Good Sleep. In this case, we’re targeting quite a lot of keyword phrases. Twin air mattress, now that was our main phrase for, if we were a big brand, and even though it’s not right at the beginning, having a phrase close to the beginning definitely helps. And it’s not even in the exact phrase, which does help a little bit, but the reason we haven’t done that, is we want to get a good blend of other keywords as well.

So in this title tag, we’re targeting twin air mattress, we’re targeting twin air beds, we’re targeting twin air blow-up mattress there are quite a wide range phrases that we’re targeting, even though they’re not in the exact order.

So do use the Portent Search Preview Tool to check out the lengths and to give you an idea of how the title tag looks. Definitely include your main keyword, specifically your P1 and P2 keywords that we looked at earlier. So your top three or even your top four key phrases and try and write it in a natural descriptive and engaging way, because, ultimately, we do want the user to click through, so it needs to look interesting as well.


The next thing we’re going to look are URLs. So this is what you’re actually naming the page itself, and things that we don’t want to do is we don’t want to stuff keywords in that. It looks fake and it can actually count against you. We don’t want to make them too long, so they get truncated and we don’t want them to be meaningless and lack relevancy.

And in this example, it does lack a lot of relevancy. And this is a lot of content management systems will at first create URLs which have these IDs and numbers in them. And then they will then make them search engine friendly and prettier. But, in this case, it looks like that second step didn’t happen. So what can we do? Well, we can include our main phrase. It doesn’t have to be the exact main phrase, but it needs to represent the main phrase quite well, and we want to make it quite short and concise.

Now, in this example, we’ve got air mattress/twin. It would be perfectly fine to have twin air mattresses, but we’ve kind of gone for that category or parent-child relationship because it’s quite good for site architecture as well.

Meta descriptions

Remember that meta descriptions are not as important as title tags, in terms of the ranking factor. Title tags are actually very important from a relevancy ranking factor, but meta descriptions don’t directly help you rank higher in Google.

So, in this case, it looks like even though it’s kind of been written in a readable sentence, it looks quite contrived in that we’re just trying too hard to work in multiple keywords. And keywords don’t directly make you rank higher, but the meta description does have an indirect way of making you rank higher. If someone clicks on your listing more often and your clickthrough rate goes up, now that’s been proven to have an impact on your keyword rankings.

So, your goal here is to make the description relevant, accurately describe the page, but to be engaging and interesting. If we look at this one, it’s neither of those things.

Let’s have a look at better practice. Well, we do want to have the main keyword in there. One, it helps describe the page and, two, if your main phrase is in there, there’s a chance it might get bolded, which helps with clickthrough rates. We tend to just focus on the main phrase rather than your secondary and tertiary phrases, and the goal really here is to try and make it stand out from the crowd.

Let’s have a look at this example, “Looking for a good night sleep?” I think many people would agree they probably are. It mentions that these air mattresses are quick to blow up, easy to pack away and there’s a 10-year guarantee. So, we’ve got benefit and then we’ve got a guarantee, which is a unique selling point which was different to other results. So that’s a more engaging meta description, which will hopefully generate more clicks for that listing.

Back to Top
Joe Williams

Managing Director and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise

  • Founder and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise with 10 years’ experience in Search Engine Optimization
  • Zen Optimise is a London-based digital marketing training company
  • SEO consultant and trainer for hundreds of small, medium, and blue chip companies including Qantas Airlines, Sky, Eurostar, EasyCruise, and Anti-Slavery

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


    SEO Workshop
    Joe Williams
    Skills Expert

    This module covers the basic concepts that underpin SEO. It introduces methods for improving technical SEO and on-page optimization of a website. It explains how to plan and implement a strategic SEO campaign and also covers the best practices for successfully building and maintaining backlinks to a website.