Do you still optimize your site for the search engines?

By Yuri Filimonov

It is been a while search engine optimization has entered the mainstream and everyone and their mouse has started offering SEO services. But what is it about search engine optimization that should site owners care about?

What is SEO?

By definition, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is optimizing a site (or a page) for the search engines (some may view it as optimizing the search engines themselves, but that’s another story). When optimizing a site, the following factors may be taken into account:

  • site crawlability (how easy the site is spidered by the search engine bots)
  • using the right keywords after the keyword research
  • placing the keywords right
  • having links from topical websites
  • having links with relevant text in the link (anchor) text

Naturally enough, most of the factors relate to how the search engines evaluate a website and only one of them is related to the humans (the words that the potential site visitors use).

Who do we optimize the site for?

But we have to remember that we create a site for the site visitors, because they will be buying our products and using our services. So how do we make sure the site works well with the humans?

While site spiderability doesn’t directly affect how it is perceived by the people, other aspects may as well be optimized taking the humans into account.

Optimizing for the people

As mentioned before, knowing the words your customers use to find your product is one of the main tasks, when optimizing your website. In turn, using the words your customers will relate to is important for them to understand your offer better, which should result in more orders.

Though you may be tempted to stuff the right keywords everywhere you can, you should also remember that your visitors see the site as well. If they find it hard to read, they will leave it.

That is why having all titles, link labels and body text, written for the humans, is vital for your site success. When arriving at your site with human-friendly text, your customers will read the site copy, will be able to understand you and will order your product. Of course, you need to remember about the search engines and know which keywords to use and where to have them. But you can have human-friendly titles instead of keyword stuffed ones, too.

When it comes to links, there’s a myth of ‘The more links, the better’, while in reality it should be “The more targeted traffic the link brings, the better”. When aiming at receiving targeted traffic, you automatically get links from quality topical websites (where your target audience is) and use relevant anchor text as well.

So, as you may have noticed, by focusing your efforts on optimizing your site and promotion for the humans, you gain not only basic SEO benefits, but the real targeted traffic and conversions as well.

Rounding up

Generally, a solid approach would be to develop your site for the people and only take the search engines in mind, which will guarantee greater conversion rates. If you also consider copywriting, site usability, accessibility and credibility – all of which relate to the humans – you’ll gain the competitive advantage your online rivals may not have.

[The above article is a submission for Marketing Pilgrim’s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship Contest. Each Monday in October, entries will be published and the most popular article of the week will qualify for the $5,000 grand prize. If you’d like to submit an entry, please view the contest entry-requirements and guidelines.]