SEO is for humans

“Search Engine Optimisation”. The name itself tells you that you are making your content (all the material on your website: text, videos, images etc) into an optimal format and organisation so that it can be found easily by search engines, i.e. machines.

This may lead you to embark on this optimisation process by thinking about the mechanics of the machines. You might start asking questions like: How do the search engines operate? What do they look for? How shall I make it possible for them to find my content?

These are good questions and it helps to answer them but not first because the search engine is being used by a person.

Search engine optimisation means making sure that a search engine places your website high up in its results when a person searches for a particular search term.

On the other end of the search engine to you and your website there is another human being – a person looking for something to solve a problem and you might have the solution. The search engine is an intermediary, use it correctly and it will serve you and your website visitors.

Before you can make sure that the appropriate search terms for your site are being used in the correct places, i.e.:

  • the site name
  • headings
  • links and
  • multi-media alt tags

you need to determine what those search terms are. That means thinking about what people are looking for that would lead them to your website. And it helps to think about how they describe it in their own words.

For instance, does someone looking for a gift (which you may sell) do a search for ‘jewellery collections’ or do they look for ‘charm bracelets’? (or “those dangly things that are worn on chains around the wrist”?)

What is the best way to make sure that your site content is optimised for search engines?

Prepare your site content for your site visitors. Prioritise your content to meet the goals of your audience. Write your content for humans. ‘Speak’ to people – not machines.

Yes, putting “best mechanic in the world” in your site title, in every heading, every link, every sub-heading and at the start of every paragraph will possibly get you found and ranked higher by a search engine when someone searches for a mechanic. Once a real person sees that sentence everywhere on the site, unnecessarily, they will likely run a mile!

Making it easy for a search engine to find your site is a necessary step but the best way to make it work is not to focus on the search engine but on the human doing the searching.