You wouldn’t necessarily think it first but search engine optimization is really about the user.
The confusion comes from the misleadingly named “search engine” optimization, in which the assumption is that SEO is for search engines, and so if you want a high ranking you need to cater to the preferences of search engines.
But search engines cater to the user, and so SEO is for the user.
Search engines give users a smooth experience towards a website, and if that website is not up to Google’s standards, then you are likely to lose both a good ranking and more customers.
Of course SEO involves elements that are technical. However, all of them coincide with content to provide users with what they want. With this line of thinking, a good SEO strategy will approach the topic from the user perspective.
Think of the answers to questions such as “what is it that users want on your website?”, “how are they interacting with the website?”, “how is their experience on the site?”, and “how long are they staying for?”
Google actually uses machine learning and other tech to give better answers to users and help those that are searching for the answers – among which your website may provide.
If your content is capable of giving relevance and providing keywords in context, then that webpage will – or should – benefit from a better search engine ranking.
This is a slight yet important refocus on the traditional way of thinking of SEO; it is a refocus away from utilizing keywords and move towards creating quality content with keywords that are relevant to their userbase.
As hinted at, the days of simply tricking Google into giving a website a strong ranking are likely to be over thanks to the increasing intelligence of the search engine.
Updates to the algorithm
Google has the ability to grasp natural language and give users more accurate results. And algorithms have come into place to regulate websites in order to give users more trustworthy, authentic information.
Something else that has updated in relation to the user experience is with Core Web Vitals. Google’s introduction of Core Web Vitals was quite a big game changer. By focusing on the digital user experience, the tech giant has fused SEO with UX to create an algorithm that prioritizes the user.
For those of you yet to come into contact with Core Web Vitals, they focus on speed, responsiveness, and layout strength.
They consist of three metrics: First Input Delay, Largest Contentful Paint, and Cumulative Layout Shift.
You could consider them close cousins. SEO and UX have the shared goal of user engagement and enhancement.
And excellent scores across the three Core Web Vitals will help to rank a page higher. Indeed, the direction of travel for SEO seems to be leaning towards greater demand for better website user experiences.
Because we are very much Google-centric, we need to keep in mind that we must continually keep pace with the changes and adaptations of the search engine giant.