Search Engine User Optimization - There’s no “U” in SEO
By Christian Bullock
… but there should be.
Those working in the SEO industry keep close tabs on search engine algorithm changes.
- How search engines are changing the way they’re displaying results.
- How search engines spider web pages and impediments to that process.
- How search engines [insert a hundred other things].
What is being lost with this focus on the search engine is thinking about the user.
The SEO team here at MKG keeps our eyes and ears on all of the algorithm changes search engines are rolling out… but I’d like to propose that we go a step further.
It’s something I’d like to call search engine user optimization.
It’s not just thinking of a website as a tool for search engines.
Or evaluating a webpage’s on-page SEO based simply on “SEO best practices.”
SEOs need to think about the user first.
How your web page result will be perceived by a user first before a search engine spider.
Both elements include some “SEO best practices.” But one will absolutely stand out from the rest on the search engine results page.
Care to guess which?
Here’s a case study about how focusing on optimizing purely the meta description for pages can lead to a click through rate increase of 3x.
In keeping users in mind when performing SEO, here is how MKG incorporates the “user” in our SEO process:
Decipher keyword research.
“How do users search for information that we’re providing?”
It’s a question that starts just about every web page optimization process we go through.
Instead of just providing a list of keywords and optimizing for the keywords with the highest search volume, it’s important to investigate the ‘why’ for each keyword. The intent of each query. Is it referential? Or transactional?
Decipher the keyword research and understand the trends of what you’re seeing.
Then think about the web page you’re optimizing. Will it satisfy the ‘why’ of the user’s intent with a search query? Or are we trying to shove a sales-heavy copy page (BOFU) to someone who is searching merely for information (TOFU)?
Evolve SEO meta data messaging.
Stand out from the crowd.
If ten organic search results are showing on a search engine result page and all are displaying SEO best practice title tags and meta descriptions, what is a search engine user to do?
Probably just click the first result and pray it’s the best one of the bunch.
Research suggests that the first result gets clicked the most.
What if you were ranked third on the page… but your result was different than the rest?
Might get some more clicks than a traditionally third-ranked result.
We know click through rate does influence rankings.
Congratulations - now your users are contributing to your SEO success.
Provide value. Everytime.
We’re established that SEO is all about the user.
But it’s also about trust.
If a user visits your website and her first impression is a page where you’ve banged out 500 words in about 10 minutes about a subject that provides zero value about that subject, you bet she won’t be back to your site.
If a user visits your website and his first impression is a nifty newsletter sign-up lightbox within the first five seconds of his visit, he will be hard-pressed to come back.
Before publishing a piece of content, get a colleague or friend to review it. What do they think? Did they get anything out of it?
Focus on the user!
Treat your website visitors as royalty. Research how they’re searching for information, products or services you offer. Give them a reason why they should check out your web page listing on a search engine result page.