Why I Don’t SEO

SEO means search engine optimization, but your customers are humans so why not human optimize your site and let the bots figure out what humans like?

I’ve been doing web development for a long time. Not like in terms of glaciers and solar systems but in terms of the overall percentage of my employed life. At the time of writing this; it’s been about 15 years. In that time I have seen many things come-and-go, for instance meta-keywords, Flash, Napster, common-sense, I digress… There are some things that have not gone away, that are more important than the latest SEO fad. Here’s what I focus on when writing content, building e-commerce websites and optimizing in general.

  1. Who are my users or customers?
  2. Sites are for humans, not for robots.
  3. Perfect usability wins the long game.
  4. Exceeding user or customer expectations everywhere is the goal.

Knowing your customer is critical in any marketing environment. Marketing departments can’t just thrown dollars to the wind hoping that the perfect customer will get a flyer across their face in a tornado of web links, banners, emails and click-bait.  Knowing your customer means that you can empathize with them, that you’re familiar with the problem they’re facing, and that you can and will provide them with the best solution, at the right price. Simple right? While many businesses know who they want to be their customer do you actually know who your customer is? Are there customers that don’t fit the expectations or scenarios that you’ve created?

If you build your site with your customer in mind and thoroughly understand their problem, only then can you build a site that will outrank your competition. No it doesn’t have to have existed since the beginning of the internet, no, you don’t need 50 of each of your keywords on specific pages, no, you definitely don’t need 100 million backlinks from every site on the internet. What you do need is a site that exceeds your users expectations, and a customer service, management, logistics, etc that is there to support that mission 100%.

Google and Bing and every other search engine out there is no longer just counting links and keywords and deciding how good of a match user A is to website B. Now they’re reading many signals not only the keywords that are being entered. Search engines to be good at what they do don’t simply do text matches, although that’s one part of it. But now their main goal is to determine user intent. i.e. what does this person really mean? Are they searching for widgets because they want information? because they want to buy one? Do they want to know where to find one? How close am I to one? That’s a lot to figure out based on a couple words. Thanks to AI and the massive troves of data and “experience” when training models and search algorithms we as humans have become much better at determining user intent.

So why is usability so important? It’s simple really. A website with poor usability is like an employee who doesn’t want to be at work. While yeah, they can do the job, they lack the desire, the want, the smile that brings customers back. Remember, you’re #1 goal in business and not just your website is to exceed your customers expectations. To do that, you need to know what their expectations are and then to do better than that. If your website can do one thing to make your users experience easier, friendlier then they’ll remember it. They’ll also remember when you make their experience miserable, when they had to re-type the same information, when they were left guessing, etc. Leave a good memory and they’ll be back to make more, leave a bad one and they won’t be back at all.


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