Okay, all funny business aside, an SEO friendly website absolutely does not mean a user-friendly site. In fact, it often means just the opposite. This is one of the first hurdles entrepreneurs encounter. Search engines are getting to the point where it can comprehend queries nearly as well as humans.
But note that ‘nearly;’ Google and other search engine algorithms aren’t quite perfect. They use certain machine learning tricks that emulate comprehension, but aren’t quite there.
This means that SEO marketers have had to learn tricks to attract Google traffic. These tricks need to be balanced with a proper design and a good UX, a balance that is hard to achieve. The proper path to strike between user-friendly and SEO-friendly is one of the best arguments for hiring a company that can knows how to build an SEO-friendly website.
So let’s discuss some SEO-friendly website design guidelines and how to strike the right balance between that and user-friendly websites.
Digital marketing is very different from Mad Men (though I hear the level of alcohol consumed is relatively similar). Digital marketing requires a wide range of skills and, as of yet, the digital marketing majors are few and far between. In other words, SEO and SMM (Social Media Marketing) is something learned on the job.
So basically your best SEO guys are going to be people with a lot of experience, both within and without the tech world:
- Marketing: An SEO marketer’s day may look very different than Don Draper’s, but there are some similarities. Good Madison Ave tactics to pay attention include market research projects, design methods, and mass media campaigns. Tech mass media campaigns are different, but Madison Ave has a long history in beginning, running and maintaining large-scale projects. We can all learn from their vast experience.
- Coding: SEO marketers need to know code. Not a lot. They don’t need to be able to design an entire website themselves; but a little knowledge of code is important. Marketers have to be able to upload new content, which means they need to be able to add to websites or apps. Being able to read code and make minor changes or repairs is essential.
- Writing: SEO management is largely about creating, managing and updating content. Content can range from a discussion of your business’ services to industry blogs. Either way, a commanding grasp of language and writing is pretty important, both for SEO-friendly sites and user-friendly ones.
- Statistics: The way marketers understand web traffic is through the vehicle of analytics. Plenty of tools can be utilized to understand traffic on your site. While it’s pretty easy to understand, the ability to read data depicted numerically and graphically is necessary. This maybe the most important part of this list – if you don’t understand how the traffic is flowing on your site, you are missing the chance to fix problems and capitalize on opportunities.
Designing a user-friendly website is very similar to developing an SEO-friendly one. In fact, the best SEO sites are sites that are extremely user-friendly. This is because search engines rate websites based on the UX; if the website offers a poor UX, Google will definitely rank it much lower on the search return list.
- Design: Knowing basic principles of Design (note the capital ‘D’ here; we’re talking about the official school of design, not some guy who built a lopsided table) is obviously important. A good designer considers multiple factors:
- How the brain processes information;
- How to create a logical screen flow;
- How the human eye works and how to design accordingly;
- How people process; and
- How people understand information.
These probably seem very similar and they are, but there are subtle differences. This is why it’s important to understand the theory of design.
- Anthropology: I’m sensing a lot of head-scratching going on with this one. Those of you who know anything about anthropologists is probably picturing a goofy professor standing in the middle of a remote village. Those of you who don’t, are probably pretty lost. Anthropology is essentially the study of humans and human organizations. This includes how people interact with devices and how they comprehend design. Anthropology helps designers to better understand how users interact with a website, who might be looking for your website (target market) and how to build a website attractive to said market.
- Development Principles: A user-friendly site is a site that leverages the best internet architecture out there, including Responsive Web Design and Adaptive Web Design. A user-friendly website is smooth, comprehensive, understandable and loads quickly. Think about it: Google has said that every ½ second of load time results in a precipitous drop in traffic; It’s even affected Amazon, where Bezos has stated that an extra second of load time ends up costing his company millions. For each second.
There are a lot of things we won’t cover here (get in touch with SDI, San Francisco’s best web design company to learn more), but there are some additional things we should discuss. Specifically, where user-friendly and SEO friendly overlap and possible conflicts.
SEO and good UX design are interrelated. As mentioned above, a user-friendly site is one of the best ways to optimize search engine traffic, so a user-friendly site is an SEO-friendly site.
The problem areas concern content. SEO relies heavily upon keywords and keyword phrases. A keyword is a word or a collection of words that people are more likely to search. If you sell web services, you want to have content that closely matches how people will attempt to find a business selling just that.
For instance, the phrase “Silicon Valley Web development” is much more likely to be searched than “A Saratoga based company offering PHP and .NET developers.” This tends to backfire because webmasters and SEO marketers want those keywords but if we’re being honest, that can get annoying. There are only so many times you want read the same phrase, right?
Finding the sweet spot between anonymity and annoyance is difficult. It is, however, important. Not only will keyword stuffing (as overuse of keywords it is known) irritate the heck out of users, it will also make Google mad. And you won’t like Google when it’s angry. Take sometime to pick the right path and find a good design and marketing crew.
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SDI works closely with startups, entrepreneurs, SMB and enterprises worldwide. We have years of experience creating, marketing, and curating SEO-friendly and user-friendly websites. We do not waste time and our designers get to the job right away. Give us a call at 408.802.2885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a one on one discussion with our Tech Director, & receive 25% off our standard prices.