When was the first time you accessed the Internet? It was probably in the middle of the 1990′s and the world wide web was just that, a loosely interconnected map of sites that were informative, humorous, and/or just plain fun. Nobody was really saying what could and couldn’t be out there. The same holds true today even though, as the Internet has grown in popularity, it has expanded into many more realms of information and usage. However, ever since search engines have come into existence, there has been a side-effect to their services and popularity. We have had pages and sites banned from the search engines and, to a greater extent, pages exposure limited due to factors that are in the best interest of users. Search engines are the information police, so how do you and your site stay on the right side of the law?
Search engines tend to focus their public image around advocating for the best interest of users and none more than Google. The recent Google Super Bowl ad attempted to show how a user could benefit from all of their services. However, there are businesses that believe the right search engine optimization involves finding out what the search engines want. This seems counter to what the search engines are actually looking for. Instead, shouldn’t we think of our users? Ask yourself “How does this benefit my user?” Keep the answer to that question unbiased; it is easy to simply answer the question with something that clearly benefits your business. Apply this to the following search engine optimization elements: page titles, meta descriptions, information architecture (on-page and site-wide), internal linking, link building and any others. In terms of link building, is a user benefiting when your content is organically linked from strongly related content, or are they benefiting when you purchase a link from strongly related content? Think not only in terms of your business, but other businesses similar to yours. Would it be fair to your business to have the similar business simply buy the link? Would it be fair to your customers who discover the business with not the best services or products related to what they were looking for, but the business that was willing to spend the money to be related to a specific topic/phrase?
Most of the time, thinking in the best interest of your user will align your search marketing plan with the same views the search engines. Taking this approach has the extra benefit of actually helping your users, who then may be more likely to convert. I don’t recommend disregarding what the search engines have to say regarding their own products or services, but remembering whose best interests you are concerned about can certainly help to improve your online goals.