Should you write for search engines? No.

I get asked a question a lot by companies when it comes to writing their websites.

That question is this: “do you write websites for search engines?”

My answer surprises them: “no, I don’t.”

Then I clarify the situation for them …  websites need to be written for people who may use search engines. I often say in my workshops that I won’t write a website for Google because Google has never bought a product from that website. Google has never sent an email enquiring about a service.

But people who use Google have … and so I write for them.

This is an important distinction to make. I have worked with a number of SEO specialists who spend their whole time worrying about the technical nature of Google. They advise organisations to focus on Google and develop a site accordingly.

While I agree with them to a point, I think taking your eyes off your target audience that is dangerous. Your website should be written for them. You will choose keywords that they use; you will speak their language.  This behaviour and the way that they use Google will then drive what you say and how you say it. You will cater for Google as a tool – not an audience.  These websites provide the best value and response to your organisation.

I will close this blog post with a question asked of me last week by an SEO specialist.   I had put forward the idea that the website should be written for people and tailored for how they use Google.   He put forward the idea of peppering the text with other words which may be popular search terms and would therefore, in his opinion, increase the traffic to the site.   His vision was a website of 100 pages –  which would be so content rich that the traffic to the site would go through the roof.

Now while I love content as much as anyone – my response to him was quite simple. What is the point in him bringing in thousands of visitors to a website they didn’t want to visit?

You see, we were valuing different things. His measurement tool was how many visitors the website attracted – so obviously the more the merrier. My measurement tool was in whether customers or prospective customers found what they were looking for and then ended up doing business with the organisation.  I figured there should be an ROI on the site that was measured in cash, not hits.  The organisation couldn’t pay its bills with hits.

Which do you think was the better metric?


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