Web Content & Search Optimisation…………. NOT Mutually Exclusive

Optimised content can be a vague concept. Defining ‘for whom’ we are optimising the content, along with ‘why’, is a critical part of the overall deliverable objective of a comprehensive web content strategy.


Optimising web content for both human users and search engine spiders should not be a mutually exclusive endeavour; at its most basic content should be, and needs to be, optimised for:

  1. human users – ensuring topical relevance, clarity and usability, and
  2. spiders – ensuring topical relevance, ease of discovery and crawlability.

It is an undisputed fact that on the web, ‘content is king’. This adage applies to the importance both human users and spiders place on quality, relevance and quantity of ‘readable’ content on any given web page. Much as a human user does not look at an entire site at one glance, neither do search engine spiders view web sites in a single crawl. Spiders view, index and rank pages on an individual page-by-page basis.


The search engines are trying (and succeeding) in their quest to make their spiders more ‘human-like’ in their interpretation and understanding of web content. It is the search engines objective to present the most relevant results to human users in the search results in order to improve their own relevance – and usability – for their set of stakeholders. The best way to do this is to have spiders rank pages according to topical relevance in a manner most likely to answer a human search query intent; this requires an algorithm that ‘thinks’ as much like a human as possible.


It is not the objective of search engine optimization to spam the engines, to detract from usability, or to have final control over content. It is the objective of effective search optimization to complement online marketing initiatives, support web content and enhance usability, crawlability, clarity and topical relevance.


Two search optimization best practice components worth expanding on for the purpose of this post include;

  1. Search query intent, and
  2. Search query language.

When conducting keyword research, it is important to determine the search query language, as well as the search query intent of your online search-based target market.

·         Search Query Language refers to the actual phrase or keyword string human users physically type into the search box when conducting a search

·         Search Query Intent refers to what they are actually hoping to discover in the results returned


One of David Ogilvy’s quotations speaks very well to the idea of focusing on search query language and utilizing it in your web site to answer search query intent:


“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language in which they think.”


A further quotation by John Ilhan identifies that in developing your offering, you need to answer the intent of your primary users, not provide them with information you think they might want:


“This may seem simple, but you need to give customers what they want, not what you think they want. And, if you do this, people will keep coming back.”


What is worth mentioning is that if search optimization of content is not effectively integrated into a comprehensive web content strategy, there will be negative impacts on all three of our stakeholders, and that impact is compounded over time.


Without effective search optimization. (Please click image. Sorry folks, it’s worth it – and yes that’s how I spell ‘behavioural’ – no hiding. Canada rocks!)


Content is King, but optimised content is the King’s muse….

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