With the algorithms that determine site ranking in a constant state of flux (Google, in their recent blog post, claims that they will be making “over 500 improvements to search this year”), online marketing (and in particular search engine marketing) is an endeavor that keeps web developers on their toes. Despite the inevitability of change in how search engines like Google rank pages, it will always be profitable to remember that internet marketing is about people and how they work. Google itself has stated that as they make updates developers should focus on “delivering the best user experience.” Ultimately, understanding how and why a potential customer will come to your page and how your page will meet their specific needs is paramount. Here are a few simple tips to make sure your content is appealing according to “the human element”:
1. Label Information
Have you ever clicked onto a page in search of answers only to be “fire-hosed” by a sea of information (especially ads) with no sign of the specifics of your inquiry to be seen? Google’s latest update will penalize sites that have excessive amounts of ads “above-the-fold” as opposed to the content that users are looking for: this means that if users have to scroll through pages of ads to get to the content they are looking for then Google’s bots will also find such pages to be “unfriendly.” Remember that as soon as a user lands on your page they will be looking for title/description tags that indicate the presence of whatever information they’re looking for. Use of keywords, and more importantly logical tags that imply the presence of the needed information will always be a delightful sight for potential customers and Googlebots alike.
People who land on your site vary in their needs as far as how well and in what ways they process information. There is an increasing demand for sites that are accessible to those who may be impaired visually, in their hearing ability, or in their ability to move their limbs to successfully navigate their mouse selector. Aside from the variety of web users, remember that Googlebots don’t have eyes: they crawl your website code, so anything that isn’t written in your code will not be seen. Ensure your page is accessible to a variety of users and bots alike by:
- Using Alt Tags for all images so that bots and the visually impaired are still aware of any information displayed in images (and for an added bonus in search engines- naming your images in accordance with the page content can bring people to your site via image searches)
- Ensure that your vital links are easy to find and click for those who are limited in mobility and for mobile devices (if you don’t already have a mobile version of your site). A well organized site will also be easier for bots to crawl and index your content.
- Make sure that all vital information is available in text: site reading applications for the visually impaired, like bots, cannot read words that are images.
3. Be Natural
Which sounds better? An individual approaching you, describing what they do, and then asking how he or she can be of aid? Or having someone jump out of a van, grab you by the arm, and telling you to get in? People often get on the internet so that they can be empowered to do or accomplish something. If you make it clear that you provide the means, people will probably investigate and take action. Google reminds us that people get on search engines to search: they probably don’t need to be “pounced” on. This is particularly useful when considering what kind of links you want to build to your site. In your on-site and in your link building your site will usually be more appealing if a user understands who you are before they are called to action.
Hopefully these tips will help your site become more pleasant for those who visit, which will inspire more sites to link to you, give you a better ranking with Google, and increase your traffic. Again, search engine marketing is about a friendly user experience, so staying ahead of the “algorithm game” is easy if you focus on the people that drive your business.