Content is King But the User is the Emperor

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Many years ago, Google stated ten points on their Corporate Philosophy page – they were as follows:

  • Focus on the user and all else will follow.
  • It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
  • Fast is better than slow.
  • Democracy on the web works.
  • You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
  • You can make money without doing evil.
  • There’s always more information out there.
  • The need for information crosses all borders.
  • You can be serious without a suit.
  • Great just isn’t good enough.

They are still applicable with a constant endeavor by Google to follow the stated norms and also with constant improvements in the implementation procedures.  This was reflected in the Scientific Evaluation, recently discussed by Amit  Singhal at the discussion hosted by Church Hill Club where he openly explained the testing procedure of every algorithmic update at Google.  He says that the focus has always been “DO What Is Best For The User”

All search activity starts and ends with the user.

  • The user types in the query in the search box
  • The results are displayed for the user by the search engine
  • The user decides which results to click on

It seems so simple, but there are scientific and psychological principles which this whole activity revolves around.

The three parties involved in this activity are the user (always #1), the websites which get ranked, the search engines and the search algorithms which execute this result.

The search engines want to give quality search results to their users. The website owners want their websites to be ranked as high as possible so that their website can be found by the user. And the user wants to find relevant content as fast as possible. Hence, the user is the focus at every step of the search activity.

Amit Singhal also stated that there are approx. 500 changes to the Google algorithm every year, and Google runs around 20,000 tests every year.

The answers to the following questions are considered before moving forward with the new algorithm. They are:

  • Is it good for the web eco system at large?
  • Would it benefit authors?
  • Would it benefit high quality content?
  • Would it keep the Google system simple so that it can be maintained much longer?

Google says that every algorithmic update is rigorously and scientifically tested before finalized. The website owners optimize their sites by investing time and money to be found by the user on the search engines. Each click on the search listings proves the user found something relevant and useful. Other metrics like the bounce rate, the click thru rate, time on site, pageviews, and the execution of the call for action, prove the result served the purpose of the user’s search and was considered relevant or irrelevant by the user.

Usually the first focus is on what search engines want followed by the user or potential visitor. However, the web developer and SEO’s flow of focus by should be the other way round. Construct content, design, colour combo and content options – like images, videos, and texts, from the user’s perspective and then focus on the search engine bots.

SEO is not rocket science (yes an old and overused statement). It’s all very simple but still demands a lot of patience and perseverance.

  • Cater to the user by offering quality information on site
  • Make the site easy for the bots to crawl and index
  • Use the Webmaster Tools Effectively by adding and offering the right information about the site
  • Analyze the Google Analytics Data For The Metrics That Matter
  • Take corrective steps to modify the site accordingly serving the user and the bot constantly

Search is fundamental to all and is constantly evolving so SEO cannot be a one time job. As search engines keep on working on their algorithms for quality results, an SEO needs to monitor, measure and tweak the site constantly as per the user’s evolving search behavior and the changing algorithms for attaining stability for the site in search rankings and visibility.

Bharati Ahuja
+Bharati Ahuja is founder WebPro Technologies India, SEO Trainer and Speaker, Web Entrepreneur, Blog Writer, Internet Marketing Consultant. Follow her on twitter @webprotech
Bharati Ahuja
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  • Alex Zagoumenov

    Bharati, I absolutely agree that SEO is not rocket science. Looking at the guides from Google and Bing, it becomes clear that the search engines actually tell you how to optimize your websites in human language. So, at the end of the day SEO is simple but, as you stated, “demands a lot of patience and perseverance”. There are two things in my opinion that are contributing to lack of SEO understanding by the public:

    1. Significant part of SEO service providers are portrayed as evel-doing geeks that know the code and know how to manipulate it to make sites rank.

    2. Companies lack this “patience and perseverance” to maintain their SEO in-house and choose to go out and hire these “techies” to do bulk link building and content development.

    I personally am an SEO and do work on site architecture and page code. However, I don’t think it’s that difficult to teach a person / client (in-house developer) to pay attention to those. The key is to have AND follow a marketing strategy, consistently, week after week, month after month.

    • Bharati Ahuja

      Exactly, Just a right approach, planning, patience and an eye for detail with a focus on the user is essential.

      If you keep yourself updated with the plethora of information available on the Google Webmaster Blog and Google Webmaster Videos and your website caters to the search engine philosophy and the user the efforts are bound to bear fruit.

      Moreover, I think that the success of any SEO campaign depends on a joint effort by the SEO, web development team, marketing team and the business owner himself as each one can contribute in their own way taking the web presence ahead qualitatively.

  • Web Design Cambridge

    I agree with Alex (above), I think in the era of the quick fix, impatience with SEO is the main problem. However, business is competitive and it is obvious that businesses will try and compete tooth and nail in an online marketplace as much as in an offline environment. There could be more help from Google on promoting the fundamentals of good SEO, rather than focusing on penalising bad SEO.

  • Alex Zagoumenov

    WDC (my apologies for abbreviating) is right on “There could be more help from Google on promoting the fundamentals of good SEO, rather than focusing on penalising bad SEO.”. But if this is in fact true, I disagree with Google. I just wrote an article about top 5 sites (ranking for a geo specific term) and reviewed their on-page SEO. What I found was that some of the most important on-page elements are missing on those sites. So, why is Google rewarding these websites with high rankings? I’m confused. I’d rather see bad SEO practices penalized.

  • Wasim Ismail

    I agree about SEO cannot be a one time job, as many business and website owners assume, that they will get some SEO done, and that’s it, It’s a constant process. Work needs to be adapted and changed according to the current times, what we do today, may not work a year or two down the line.
    I believe it all goes down to educating the business/website owner.