Video: optimize for users, Not Search Engines

Chris Esh

Like all things in life, SEO requires balance. While you’re trying to impress Google’s algorithm and get its attention, don’t sacrifice your users. There are lots of firms out there that will charge you lots of money, go through your site, jam every single nook and cranny they can find with keywords to help you rank on Google. Even if that works, I recommend some caution with that approach.

I just got off the phone with a client yesterday, who worked with an SEO firm that took what was once a nicely designed user optimized website and filled it with blocks of keyword-rich text that is almost unreadable.

What drives me crazy is when people optimize their websites exclusively for algorithms, instead of optimizing for their users.

It’s not one or the other. You can do both, but so often people forget about their users and go all in on the search engines. Guess what? You don’t get paid for being first on Google. You only get paid when you show up on Google, and somebody sees your listing, thinks it’s interesting, clicks on it, goes to your website, trusts you, likes you, and are convinced by you enough to become a customer, right? So don’t sell your soul to get to that top rank, if it means that your website is a wreck for users that is jammed full of spammy keywords.

There’s a three-part process.

  1. You need to rank. Somebody finds you listed on Google among 10, 20, 30 or 40 competitors.
  2. The user needs to pick you from the list. If the metadata, your little description, and title are all keywords listing a bunch of synonyms for your service, and all of the surrounding counties you do this service in, that might not be the one they click on. If you have enough intrigue, enough “this is what I’m looking for” for the user, then they will click on your listing and go to your website.
  3. Your website needs to close the deal. Is the website speaking to them in a human way? Does it feel like there are real, trustworthy people on the other side of this exchange? If it’s full of blocks of text that are just riddled with keywords, it’s going to bore the user in two seconds and they will be back on Google trying to find a website that actually connects with them.

Most SEO gurus go all in on the first step and sacrifice your site’s performance on steps two and three.

I know SEO is super important. I’m not arguing that, just when you make decisions that optimize for search engines, don’t do it at the expense of your user.


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