“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”
– from the Google webmaster guidelines 1
Your website is for people
The most important thing that affects your ranking on Google is how much actual people are satisfied or pleasured by your webpages.
A great site with no SEO will do better than a bad site with perfect SEO.
In our rush to create websites with perfect SEO and great keywords, etc. we forget that we are making pages for people, not search engines.
You have likely been researching search engine optimization and have read scores of blogs advising this or that to rank higher. The time and effort you have put into learning about search engines will not do you any good if people do not like your website.
People understand if a webpage is useful to them. People understand if a webpage is beautiful, professional looking, well written and so on. The more useful and presentable a webpage is, the more likely it will be enjoyed by people. Don’t forget people.
Virtually any improvement to your webpages made for your users will have clear and long term positive effects for your search engine rankings.
The path to website traffic is not this…
- Rank well in Google
- More traffic
That path was ten years ago. It is no longer the case.
The path now is…
- Please people
- Rank better in Google
- Please the people Google has sent
- Rank even better in Google
- More traffic
If you do not please the people who Google has sent by being useful and relevant, your website will rank lower and you will have less traffic from Google.
It really is about people.
The method that Google uses to determine if your site is useful does not matter.
Google determines it one way now, they did so differently before, they will do so differently in the future. It does not matter.
You do not need to optimize your site for this method or that method or the next method at all.
Any of the methods that Google uses all have the same goal which is to provide searchers with results that will pleasure them by being useful and relevant to their query.
You can just skip the whole method thing by having a site that is really and truly better and more useful for people.
Let me repeat what I said earlier… “Virtually any improvement to your webpages made for your users will have clear and long term positive effects for your search engine rankings”.
How to improve your site for people
Here are the types of things you should be doing to make your blog or website better
- Update your content – go to one of your pages, read it, then update or improve it
- Research something in your field and share your findings – if you are wondering something odds are others are too
- Redesign your webpage – make your website more visually pleasurable
- Organize your site to help your users find what they need – example: take a category page of your blog and make it rock
- Provide tools or advice that actually help people solve problems – make amazing tutorials and spend the time to make them look incredible
- Make your website faster to load – seriously. you need to do this
- Create a list of resources for your users and link to them – there are many sites better than yours, make a list of them and then smile to yourself as you become better than each of them one by one
You may have been told a million things about SEO or marketing a webpage, but the reality is that people have to enjoy your site for it to rank well. Webmasters who spend more time on their users and less time on “search engine optimization” tend to do better in the modern Google results.
The best way to please Google is to first please your users.
- Look at one of your web pages and really take the time to see it. Read it from the perspective of a user. Take the time to identify ways that the page can be better for the user. Have you seen pages on that subject better than yours? If so make your page even better.
- Is the page content clear? Is it well formatted? Does the page look trust worthy? Would you personally trust it if it wasn’t your page?
- Does the webpage offer other resources for the user? If you are trying to keep people on your website by not linking to other resources you are hurting your users and you are hurting your ranking. Be a great resource for your users, they will appreciate it and it will earn you trust.
- Is there contact information? Author information? These things matter as trustworthy pages often have proud owners who like to tell them about themselves or their company.
- Go to other webpages about the same subject, see what others have said about the subject, see what good things and bad things are out there. Compare the good resources to your page.
- Is your page clean and easy to read? Does it look nice? Think about design, and try to improve what you can or hire someone who can do it for you. Think about what makes you trust or not trust a page. Your page has to look professional enough to trust.
- Is the purpose of your page clear? Is it obvious how to navigate your site?
- Ask other people to look at your webpage and listen to what they have to say about it.
Many people roll their eyes when then hear Google advising them to “Make pages for users, not search engines”. It seems a
bit unrealistic that you can actually follow this advice since after all, you are making a webpage to be
seen in search engines. But before you roll your eyes too much let’s use an all too common example.
A decision made for search engines instead of users
Okay let’s say you have made a great article and it is on your site. You receive some traffic, but you want more.
You begin thinking “Hey, I have heard that search engines like websites that have lots of pages. I have a great idea! I am
going to take my article and split it up into three pages, then the search engines will like me better and I can also show more ads!”
Okay now you have three pages instead of one…
Guess what? This is alot less convenient for your users, and you most probably are getting
less traffic than you were before from search engines. This is often the result of such experiments, you are less useful to
your visitors and you get less traffic. The only reason you split those pages apart was because you wanted search engines to like you more or to show more ads. You did not follow this guideline.
Here is what you have done for users and search engines….
For Users – You have created unnecessary steps for your visitor to take because they now have to
click “next page” just to get their information. This makes your page less enjoyable and less useful. Result? Less people
will like your site or return to your site.
For Search Engines – You have diluted the content on your page. This makes each individual page have
less useful content. Result? When someone searches for the topic of that article the search engines will no longer show
your site because it has lost it’s value. Instead of having one page that was doing okay in search engines, you now have
three pages that are doing bad.
This occurred because you thought about search engine methods rather than people. Do you know anyone who likes having to click next, next, next to read an article? No.
What you should have done was to make the article better for your users by updating it, making it look better, load faster and adding great content that would help the person using it.
When making decisions about your website it is always important to think “How will this improve my site for my users?”. If you are
making decisions about your website thinking “How will this affect search engines?” then you are concentrating on the
The absolute best strategy to increase your rankings in Google is to be the most useful, most relevant, most informative and most pleasurable site for your users.