Time was great website optimization meant populating your website with certain keywords in the hopes that (like laying bait) search engines would latch on to them and list your website higher up on their search engine results page (SERPs).
Yet, as is always the case in the digital world, times have changed. The new approach to website optimization focuses just as much on the searcher as the search engine. Maybe more so.
Who are you optimizing your website for?
Search on “website optimization definition,” and the first two results (from Wikipedia and Webopedia) still define website optimization as another term for SEO. But that’s only half the story. When you optimize your site solely for search engines, you may turn on their robots, but you could be turning off real people who actually use your site.
So, who is it you really want to bring to your site? Your customers and potential customers, of course. Ultimately, you want to attract the searchers – those real people – who will use your website to get what they need, and they may find a site optimized solely for search engines difficult to use.
How to consider the searcher
The searchers who are looking for and using your site are real…and best of all, you already know them. How? There is a type of person who is looking for help with a need that you fulfill. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t be in business. Think about whom it is you want to reach. Each customer will have his or her own needs, and a site optimized for its searchers will be easily readable and informative for each customer.
For example, an automotive supply company may have several different types of customer: DIYers, general car owners, and professional mechanics and body shapers, each with their own needs. For example, a car owner may be looking for a new set of windshield wipers; a DIYer might search for oil or spark plugs; and a professional mechanic may want a specific part. In optimizing its site for its customers, the automotive supply company may decide that it would help if it divided its site into areas for professionals and nonprofessionals. Its blog might offer helpful articles on changing windshield wiper blades for general car owners; tips to remember when changing oil for DIYers; and an article comparing brands of carburetor parts for professionals.
In short, once you understand what your searchers want to accomplish, make it as easy as possible for them to do what they want to do on your site.
Optimize for both users AND search engines
Of course, optimizing for searchers doesn’t mean you forget about search engines. So how do you consider both users and search engines in building your site? By making your site easy to understand and to crawl.
Here are four steps to get you started.
- Make wise design choices. Focus on what’s known as “cognitive fluency,” or the ease in which something is processed. Make design choices that help users and bots find information quickly.
- Make sure your content is clear. One theme or topic uses one keyword. Put that keyword in your title, URLs (keep these consistent with titles), headers (to attract users’ eyes), content (to reinforce the topic), and meta description.
- Format content for readability. Like your design choices, formatting choices should contribute to helping users and bots find information quickly. Choose a consistent and clear font hierarchy; include pictures; and use short sentences/paragraphs, bullets, bolding, italics, and hyperlinked content.
- Keep your site dynamic. Websites should be dynamic, not static. When a site never changes, both users and search engines lose interest. A great way to keep adding quality content is through a blog.
The take away
Great website optimization is not a question of ‘either/or’ – as in either focus on search engines or searchers – but rather ‘both/and’.
When it comes down to it, optimization is a matter of doing what’s right by the people who use your site. If you make your site both easy to understand and crawl, both searchers and search engines will be happy.
With the new approach to optimization, there’s no need to obsess over ranking factors. Simply creating quality, easy-to-understand content (as opposed to simply stuffing your site with as many keywords as possible) will satisfy your users AND rank at top of the search engine result pages.
About VONT Performance Digital Marketing
At VONT we believe that change is the only constant in the digital world – and that excites us. When tools and environments are constantly changing, new opportunities to help our clients achieve success are constantly arising. Each new advertising technology, each new social platform, each new design approach allows us to improve on the results we achieve for our clients.
We believe in that idea so much that we named our company VONT, which means to achieve exponential improvement in incremental steps. It is our core belief, and the reason why we are not simply a web design company or simply a digital advertising agency, but rather a long-term, single source partner providing a comprehensive array of web development and digital marketing capabilities.
In short, we’re here so that our clients achieve success in the ever-changing digital world. If you’d like to learn more about VONT, visit our Work page. Or, if you have a question, contact us. We’ll get right back to you!