With all the damage that has been caused by Google critters like Panda and Penguin, it’s no surprise that so many business owners are stressed about their SEO strategies. After all, ignoring the importance of search is like turning a blind eye to the visibility and traffic it has to offer. Despite all the changes, SEO is just as vital as it’s ever been, but your strategy won’t be nearly as effective if it’s executed at the expense of your audience. Equipped with these tips, you can please both your visitors and the search spiders.
1. Know Your Peeps
What’s your opinion of your website? Think it looks good? Well hopefully your visitors agree because it is their opinion that matters most. Your site could look spectacular, decked out with all the fancy bells and whistles, but if it doesn’t appeal to your audience, then it isn’t doing its job. And if your ideal visitors don’t approve, then the search engines won’t either because now more than ever, SEO is about the user experience. So what do you do? Gain an understanding of what your audience wants in a website experience and deliver.
2. Keep It Simple
For a business, the importance of having a website that looks professional cannot be overstated. If it looks sloppy or crappy otherwise, no one is going to take you serious. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a visually stunning work of art. Sure, people like a little eye candy, but what they appreciate more is a great experience. Search engines want the same for your users. In fact, incorporating advertisements and other flashy content that takes away from that experience could actually hurt your SEO value. When it comes to creating a site that looks good and performs wells for both users and search spiders, the simple approach wins every time.
3. Make Navigation Easy
One way to accommodate both visitors and search engines is to make your site as easy to navigate as possible. Most sites have a navigation menu in their header, footer or sidebar, but if you have a lot of pages, there is nothing wrong with taking a multi-prong approach that sees you using all three areas so visitors can find their way around no matter where they are. You can accommodate the search spiders by using site maps and other internal linking strategies that allow them to easily move from one page to the next in their mission for indexable content.
4. Deliver Powerful Content
If it’s one thing visitors and search engines both share a passion for, it would be good quality content. Without it, neither people nor creepy crawlers will be paying you a visit. Before Panda came along, it was possible to rank high in the SERPs with well optimized, low quality content. You could even get away with publishing the exact same content on different sites and boost visibility across multiple domains. Times have changed. These days, both search engines and users want to see the best content you can possibly dish out.
The comforting aspect to this whole quality thing is that good content comes in many forms. For example, it could be packaged in a blog post, photo gallery, or quick video clip. Good content can be just about anything as long as it’s purposeful and valuable to your audience.
5. Trace Your Steps with Analytics
Even if you’re riding high in the SERPs and reeling in a consistent stream of traffic, keep in mind that there is always room for improvement. You can gather the valuable insights needed to make those improvements by tracking your performance. Tools like Google Analytics are very useful at this stage because they allow you to measure activity far beyond unique visits. Search engine visits, bounce rates, event tracking and other features can help you gauge levels of engagement, identify weak spots and repeat your successes. These days, no SEO strategy should be without a good analytics tool.
A quality website not only appeals to human visitors or search spiders — it caters to them both. If you’re focusing one or the other, then you’ll find your efforts coming up short more often than not. All you really have to do is understand that the human element now plays a bigger role in search and rankings. Keep that in mind, incorporate these practices into your strategy, and your site will consistently please people and crawlers alike.