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The Google Snippet.
Now, I understand that DMOZ listed pages don't really have as much control over the snippet as others, but let's look at where we DO have control.
One thing I'm noticing is that I get a lot of hits from certain search terms where my site isn't even listed on the first page. Then, I get other terms where I am on the first page and it doesn't get as many hits.
The only thing I can figure (for the first example, above) is that my snippet looks like it contains what the user is looking for whereas the snippets above me don't. I notice this mostly when "BUY" terms are involved. My pages are laid out with "INFORMATION and CONTENT" at the top of the page (which is designed to get someone interested in the product) and then "MERCHANDISE" at the bottom of the page. During the top part of the page, I don't have ANY buy words. At the bottom, I've got all my BUY words and pricing and all of that sort of stuff.
So, if someone searches for BUY PRODUCTNAME, I might appear on the second page of the SERPS, but my snippet contains the product name, the word "BUY" and usually, a price. In that case, it's exactly what the person is searching for.
In most snippets, the search terms are going to appear in them, so if you key your page so that common search terms appear near one another, you aren't dividing yourself up between two snippets. If I'd laid out my page differently, my snippet might look like:
"...PRODUCTNAME product description...BUY it ..."
I think it'd behoove (is that a word? I think so) everyone to look at the contents of their snippets under their desired search term. Look at the snippets of the competitors above you. Does their snippet have the info the person's looking for? Does yours? If your snippet is better, you can be several places below them and still get the traffic.
...and thank you for giving us something to chew on whilst the dance data comes through. :)
How much higher are your close rates when they come to you that way?
It's hard to say exactly, because the line of exactly who buys what isn't always clear. I can surmise by "what" sells and checking that against the product in my list of search terms and working that way, but it's time consuming and I don't put a lot of effort into it.
I will say that since I started getting pricing data right on the page, that my overall ratios have increased tremendously. (Last month's sales were triple the combined 5 months before I had pricing on the page).
Obviously, pricing isn't the only thing that people are interested in, though. I just used it as an example as it is what triggered my thoughts on this whole topic. The key to it is to know what your popular keywords are and, if you can't get #1 (which can happen, I'm told ;) ) then developing a means of getting your snippet to look attractive can be a VERY viable alternative and you can come in 10th or worse and get the same type of traffic you might get if you were #2 or #3. (Or so my theory goes - if not the same volume, the quality of your traffic may be better than the #1 spot).