Optimize your website for humans

By Tim Sloan on Feb. 17, 2009

You don’t need to go crazy optimizing for search engines! Remember that there are humans reading the content on your websites, and the content should be written with them in mind first.

It’s important to be found by search engines—no question, but it’s more important that your customers or potential customer find what they’re looking for first and foremost. Make sure the content of your website is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. Make sure the words and pictures that they are looking for are right there when they find the page. Don’t make them scroll through lots and lots of text to find what they’re looking for.

If you focus too much on making your website for search engines some things that you’ll do to accommodate search engines might scare away some of your potential business.

Here are some differences between pages for people and pages for search engines.

Lots of pages

Search engines love lots of pages, especially if they all have unique content, lots of links and important key words. However, when you ask people to look through lots of pages, you’re asking them to spend time looking for what they need when it should just be there. An important pages about a product or service could get lost in the myriad of pages built to make search engines happy.

Lots of content on a page

Computers have a tough time figuring out pictures but they love text. Humans, for the most part, are the opposite. If you want search engines to love your website, you want to put lots of text on a page and make sure it’s filled with key words and phrases. However, this will scare off a lot of your customers who would rather see an image and a short, clear description.

Links, links and more links

It’s fairly common practice to create pages filled with links as a way to build up your standings in search engines. It’s a bit unclear if this really works but for the most part, it’s accepted practice. Often these links are just to other pages of your website. It’s helpful to think of links, whether they are a part of your site’s navigation or part of the content of the pages, as exits. Too many exits and you lose your visitor.

The best strategy for optimizing your site is to do something useful.

If your site provides real information, regardless of all the SEO techniques out there, it will be found by people. Keep this goal in mind.

Tim Sloan

Director of Technology

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