If you think about search engine optimization (SEO), what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Probably links. Or content. Maybe both. If you’ve seen an SEO specialist in action, perhaps you’ve noticed nothing but charts, graphs, and PLENTY of numbers. Ranking and ROI are common terms; and it’s normal for an expert to lose sleep over monitoring a website’s online performance. The term ‘SEO’ itself connotes something technical in nature.
But is this really what SEO is all about?
Google Loosens Up
You can’t say SEO without thinking about Google. The search engine giant plays a huge role, not only in the industry, but also in the lives of everyday people. Aside from Google leading 67.5% of the market share in the US alone, its search algorithm has been the standard for those in the digital marketing sector.
In June 23, 2007, Matt Cutts (Head of Google’s Webspam team) wrote a post regarding the ‘role of humans in search’. He highlighted a couple of important predictions about what’s to come in the SEO industry. In particular, changes he hoped Google would work on to give it a more ‘human appeal’.
How many of these came true after 7 years?
- The first thing Matt mentioned was personalization. This materialized in January 2012 when Google pushed its social platform, Google+. They also introduced a prominent toggle button to turn on or shut off the personalization option.
- On August 2013, the biggest algorithm update – named ‘Hummingbird’ – was rolled out, but wasn’t formally announced until a month later. Experts have compared it to caffeine; as it has powered proceeding updates in terms of semantic search and the Knowledge Graph.
- The closest thing that Google came to in terms of social search is social signals. Matt defined it as ‘improving search by giving power to the people’. In a way, he was correct. By including social signals as a factor in determining website ranking, Google is placing priority in what people find interesting on the Web.
- His idea of ‘universal search’ came about in May 2007. This combines non-HTML elements such as images, videos, and patents with traditional search results. This provides a more relevant outcome compared to the old 10-listing SERP.
- All of the above or something entirely different? Google already released one of their newest updates regarding mobile-friendliness (mobile labels). The next question now is: will this give rise to a distinct type of algorithm dedicated only to mobile-friendly websites?
What do all these changes have in common? They’re all USER-focused. They prioritize what YOU value most. So whether you’re looking for the latest coffee shop in your area OR a current news event about your favorite sports team; all these updates work together to bring relevant results that matter to you.
Why SEO Needs To Feel More ‘Human’
Think about it: with hundreds of websites being published everyday, what makes yours so special? It all goes back to being human. Each one of us is unique: even twins, who share the same looks, have unique likes, interests, hobbies, and goals in life. If we apply the same rule to websites and SEO, it will make each one stand out in its own right.
By becoming ‘more human’, consumers will feel closer to brands and businesses that they love. They will become more than a cold piece of product that’s like hundreds of others on grocery shelves. You will be different – you will become memorable.
We already know that in the SEO industry, we are competing against dozens of other companies. Some, more established than our own. So how do you win? You identify what makes YOU different and then reflect that in every aspect of your campaign. By doing so, you create a whole new level of understanding about what optimization really is – and how it can bring long-term benefits to clients.
Bringing ‘Human Touch’ To Life
If Google and other search engines never took personalization to mind, you would still have to sift through tons of advertorial, spammy, and irrelevant results. This is why adding a ‘human touch’ to businesses – especially websites – is very important. Not only does it bring more value to users, it gives products or services unique personalities. This in turn connects them closer with their consumers.
So how does a website with the ‘human touch’ look like? What qualities should it possess?
- No guesswork. One of the most annoying things for users is having to guess if they’re on the right site. This wastes time and just adds to their confusion. Eliminate guesswork by incorporating user-friendly SEO elements such as meta descriptions, alt tags, and optimized images that support your context.
- Clear, concise copy. No one likes jargon. So instead of beating around the bush, create copy that’s clear, straight to the point, and answers users’ most common questions. The main reason why they’re on your site is because they want a particular problem solved. Be the solution.
- Easy engagement. What do you when you hear or read about something really interesting? You want to share it. Thus, make it easy for online users to spread the word! Provide prominent social links or buttons to their favorite social platforms for quick engagement.
- Values time. The saying ‘time is money’ has never been more true than it is today. Show how much you value people’s time by improving your website’s load speeds, providing easy navigation between pages, and by being available on major devices (like smartphones and tablets).
- Being current. Users love all things fun, fresh, and new. If someone starts a trend, it’s only human nature to follow. We all want to belong. Make sure that your content, web design, and other technical details are up-to-date. You wouldn’t want your users to feel like they’re missing out, right?
By incorporating all these things that make us human – thirst for knowledge, a distinct personality, and genuine interest – we ADD MORE VALUE to everything we touch. SEO campaigns no longer feel irrelevant or a waste of investment opportunity. Plus, there’s less to worry about when it comes to future algorithm updates.
Choose local SEO services that are focused on users; so you know you’re always giving the best.