When it comes to SEO and usability, you have to realize that the main goal of every search engine is to provide the best possible user experience. It’s in Google and Bing’s best interest to follow up search queries with results comprised of clean, easy-to-navigate websites that offer genuinely useful content.
Optimizing your website for search engines isn’t difficult. Search engines build their algorithms around the user, so you should design your website with the same goals. Simply keep your guests’ best interests in mind every step of the way, and you’ll likely create a website that is accommodating to both your visitors and the search engine spiders.
The layout of your website should be dictated by your content. Naturally, your main navigation menu should include “Home,” “About Us” and “Contact” links, but it’s also important to provide additional content that is relevant to your vertical. Search engines are examining your site for usefulness and relevancy. The more quality content-filled pages you provide, the more users and search engines will come to appreciate your website.
Research keywords that correlate with the themes of your content. Choose the ones that have strong search volume and avoid awkward terms that are difficult to incorporate into writing. For every keyword you select, you may as well build a unique page around it, provided you can justify it with worthwhile content. This is how your visitors – both human and search bot – will come to value your website.
Just remember to not over-stuff your main navigation. If you have a lot of content pages to share, incorporate only the most important components into the main menu and build a site map (a directory page containing links to all pages within a website) to make the rest accessible.
When creating content for your website, ensure that it is completely original. This can be time-consuming, but copying and pasting content from another source on the web is completely toxic for search engine rankings. If you happen to be well-versed in the vertical associated with your website, you’ll want to tap your experience and insights to provide as much information to the public as possible. The good news is that the content you’ll write is a goldmine of SEO opportunity.
Although you can create a separate page for every keyword, you should never go overboard with keyword “stuffing” or your efforts will backfire. Remember this about SEO and usability: You want your users to appreciate your content, and this can be difficult when your copy reads awkwardly due to too many keyword inclusions. You’ll also risk alienating the search engines, which generally frown upon messy keyword-stuffed content.
It helps to dress up your content with headers, images and videos. Just as someone wouldn’t want to spend an hour listening to a person who speaks in monotone, your visitors may not wish to read a gigantic wall of text. By including headers that separate the main concepts within the content, your users will be more comfortable reading what you’ve written. Headers are also a prime SEO opportunity. Include a single H1 header as your page title and be sure to incorporate the page’s main keyword. Subsequently, H2 headers should be used for subtitles and should also contain keywords.
Users will surely appreciate the inclusion of images within your content. This will go a long way toward grabbing attention, and the content you provide is hopefully good enough to sustain interest. Although you can’t expect a search engine to evaluate the quality of an image, you can include the page’s main keyword within the image’s “alt” text (e.g. alt=”main keyword”). You should also ensure that the file name of the image contains a relevant keyword. All images should be optimized in this fashion, or you’re squandering a valuable SEO opportunity.
For the sake of SEO and usability, you want your website to be completely accessible – an open book. Links are the only way to achieve this. In addition to your website’s main navigation menu and site map, you should also incorporate hyperlinks within your content that point to relevant pages. These hyperlinks can be denoted with keywords, which will further your SEO efforts. However, as with keywords, don’t overdo it with the internal links. The general rule of thumb is to include one hyperlink for every 100 words on the page.
*Photo “Plymouth SEO” courtesy of Flickr user, Plymouth Devon under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License