May 04, 2017

Why Sites Need to Be Designed For Both Humans and Google

Written byRobby Schlesinger
SEO can be a difficult challenge for any website. Changing practices in professional website design and search engine optimization mean that you have to keep up to date on new algorithms and best practices constantly while weeding out the approaches that worked a few years ago. Approaching SEO incorrectly can even have the opposite intended effect; instead of making your site more visible to users, you can be penalized by Google and other search engines and have your site buried under more results than when you started. However, SEO isn’t just a mechanical checklist that you have to complete for each website. Each website offers something different to users and must offer content and resources that appeals to the needs of those users in order to be ranked. So when considering web design and digital marketing services, the question then becomes how do you balance a website’s design so that you appeal both to search engines as well as human users?

First, it’s important to realize, obvious as it may seem, that your users are humans. They are the ones who are looking for services or products, and they are the ones you hope will become your customers. If your site isn’t designed with them in mind, then it’s all over before it even started; you’ll never get conversions if people can’t use your site the way it's intended.

In the early days of search engine optimization, what we now call “black hat” SEO was a rampant practice. A marketer or web design agency could stuff meta tags and titles full of keywords to increase a page’s relevancy. Thankfully, these old practices don’t work anymore; a page’s search engine rankings are determined by the relevance of the content compared to a user’s intention. Because of this, providing high quality content that is of the most use to the person viewing your site is the best method for increasing your visibility in search engine results pages.

Sadly, keyword stuffing is still a common practice by many marketers. After the keywords are selected, the marketer includes as many of them as possible into the site’s content. This often makes the content unreadable, which in turn hurts the overall rankings of the site; Google’s smart enough now to recognize keyword stuffing when it sees it.

If your goal is to game the way Google indexes web content, you’ve got quite the challenge on your hands; Google now devotes entire neural networks to the creation and adaptation of its own SEO algorithms, so that even they themselves don’t know exactly what to do to get to the top of a search page. The best practice remains providing content that establishes both utility and authority for your domain.

So, while SEO mechanics aren’t going anywhere, in the end it is the user of your site who is the most important. Anyone can fill out title and meta tags with keywords and make sure all alt text is descriptive, but only by producing good content can you actually win the SEO game.