U - SEO, User Centric SEO


By Sadie on April 20, 2014

Google U-SEO

You’ve heard of UX design right? Well today I am introducing you to U – SEO, User centric SEO.

Your SEO should target Users not Search Engines

I appreciate the thought of user centric SEO is a bit of a contradiction in terms, as SEO is about optimising a website to do well in the search engines but more and more SEO tactics that are implemented just for SEO are losing credibility and weight, even to the point of sites being penalised.

So why am I suggesting it?

Well, as a SEO my role has changed significantly over the past 5 or 10 years. Where some of the principals are the same, implementation has gotten much harder to get long term results. Google is getting much better at developing algorithms to spot the signatures that SEO’s are leaving behind, even well intentioned grey and white hat SEO’s. I am no longer coding websites, placing keywords in the correct places and building links, SEO encompasses so much more now, it is confusing. It is confusing for me and it is my job so imagine how confusing it is for clients.

Now, to do well in the search engines, you need to be an expert at on page SEO, Social Media, PR, Local SEO, Google Maps, producing content, design and even making friends with bloggers and site owners. Phew…. that’s a lot of hats! But what it all comes down to is the way attitudes on doing good SEO has changed. The benchmarks have changed and instead of ranking for some obscure keyword on the top of Google that no one searches for we need to get people on the website and buying. We need to be thinking about the user.

So a user will find your website through some means – this may be search engines, social media, email or direct, they are there. Are they the right person to be on the site? If not why not? If they are how can you get more people like them?

By analysing the route a user takes to make a sale or enquiry on your website you can improve your marketing. Google analytics no longer gives us reliable data on keywords from search engines, but certain assumptions on the semantics of the keyword can be made by the landing page and having an idea where you are for the landing page for particular keywords. Social and referral traffic can give you more insight into the type of person the user is, do they use Twitter or Facebook what types of content are they interested in. Of course this needs to be analysed on a larger scale to rule out anomalies but it is a fantastic way to streamline your online marketing and SEO for real results.

SEO should be complimented by content, outreach, PR and social media, or perhaps it is the other way round. Either way, all of these disciplines will work much better in sync with each other.

If you build it, they will come

What do you think your audience wants? It may not be the same as what you want, so find out. Find out and build it….

Build great content, build an easy to use website, build relationships with Key Online Influencers, this is the best way to get users to your website and in turn this activity will help your SEO.
By all means, make sure you are utilising all of Google’s products and your website it easy to crawl but once this is done start having fun with your brand.

Why not do SEO for Google?

There are huge advantages to putting the user first in your SEO campaigns, you will have a much better conversion rate for a start, but why not just do SEO for results in Google. 8 years ago doing SEO purely for Google worked, you could easily get to the top of the search engines with some quick fixes and a big budget for buying links but every time we manipulate the search engines in bulk we are leaving a footprint behind for Google to follow and if enough people do the same thing, leaving those same footprints this gives Google a way to stop it.

Many well intentioned SEO’s have fallen foul of this, including My Blog Guest on guest posting, but were these guest posts good enough quality for the user? In many cases they were not and if you look at any area of your SEO and think my website users will not like this then you are doing something wrong.

SEO to me is now about getting people to a website and getting them buying, this includes social and includes fantastic content, there is no out of the box solution as every website and each customer is different. This makes my job a lot more entertaining, but also will give you longer term results and customer loyalty.