When Search Engine Optimization Goes Wrong

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Agh! It’s terrible, right? Unreadable!

Unfortunately, John Connor delayed the apocalypse and set artificial intelligence back a hundred years. As a result, human beings and robots don’t read the same way. A lot of times, when designing a website, it’s easy to lose your audience by focusing too much on what Google wants. So how do you strike a balance between appeasing Google and maintaining the interest of your audience?


Always remember that you’re talking to people

Last week, we worked up a blog post on legal website design. After careful deliberation, we threw the whole thing away and called it a lesson. What did we learn? Posts need to speak to people. When we looked at the piece and asked ourselves, “Who is the audience for this post?” the answer was, “Google.”

When you come to that realization, it’s time to step back and look closely at your process. Websites are about reaching out, they’re about connecting with people. At their most fundamental level, they are about sharing your — or your company’s — philosophy with other people. If you’re only creating content for Google, you’re not writing philosophy, you’re writing a phone book.

In order to keep your audience’s attention, you have to tell them something interesting. Like a good movie, you’ve got to take them on a journey and, in the end, hope that you’ve taught them a little something. If you’re overly focused on SEO, you’re not talking to people… you’re attracting an audience that won’t care, won’t connect and won’t stick around


Always remember that robots hate conversation

Google’s the guy at the party that latches on to one minute, incidental topic that you mentioned and won’t shut up about it. He doesn’t want a conversation, he wants familiar words that make him feel relevant. When you’ve got to talk to this guy, you mention his topic, watch his face light up and move on.

In the same way, Search Engine Optimization and keywords are not a conversation. Their inclusion does not eliminate the need for actual, meaningful content. Being an unfortunate necessity, you mention your necessary keywords, watch Google light up and move on. Move on to content that informs your audience, connects with them and drives them to further explore your site.

Most importantly, always remember that while Google has to find your website, people need to read it.


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