Marketing March 29, 2013 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,650 Reads share

Good Bye Search Engine Optimization, Hello User Optimization!

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For a long time now we have been preaching the need to focus on the user and NOT the search engine when structuring and creating content for your website. User Optimization: It’s people who buy products and take in information at the end of the day and you must ensure your site is optimized for them to do just that.

Search Engine Optimization has served us well and will no doubt continue to do so but it’s crucial we open our minds to the value of user optimization (or as I term it, User Optimization). From targeted content to analysis of existing data, there’s a lot we can do for our online visitors and customers.

The old days had us armed with keywords and obsessed over hard data like numbers of new visitors and bounce rates. These numbers are of course still important but as the Internet and online marketing matures, the user is taking center stage more than ever and as site owners, it’s crucial we react accordingly.

Converting your mindset from SEO to UO (User Optimization) – here’s how….

Here’s six issues to keep in mind in order to convert your mindset from SEO to UO.


it always comes back to connecting and communicating with your target audience. And you’ll do this through your content. After all, the search engine is not buying your product so why write for them? The search engine will ensure they get to your site but that’s where your content must connect. There’s no point in having a page one listing if people bail out of your site on landing because the message is all wrong. Focus on the message and how you want to be perceived by those elusive customers.


Have a look at your analytics either yourself or with the help of an expert. Pour over the numbers and see what they tell you.

  • Do people leave at certain pages?
  • And when they enter, where do they go?

You may not get conclusive evidence but you should be able to piece together an approximate user experience for your site. Now that you know what’s going on, you have a chance to change it.


While this is connected with content, there is a subtle difference. Videos, podcasts, white papers and case studies will all speak directly to your customer.

  • You need to find out what resources you should provide and how this will impact on your customers’ UX.
  • Try and create amazing content that the user will eat up and share and endorse.

Don’t just sell stuff, fix problems for your customers so you become the resource for them in your area.

On page optimization

On page optimization has always been about stuffing keywords into the page content, manipulating anchor text and page urls. Now it’s crucial to ensure the user is firmly in our mind when writing these links and designing these pages.

  • SEO will only get us so far – it’s the user who will make the final call and it’s the user we must think of at every point. For example, instead of stuffing keywords into anchor links for no reason other than to enhance the page SEO, make the links more descriptive, you can still your keywords but  give the person an idea of what to expect when they click on the link in question.
  • Even though metadata sounds like an exclusively SEO issue, it should not be. Well written metadata, especially ‘meta descriptions’ for SERPs should focus on the needs of your audience and not just be another resource for the search engine bots. Yes include your target search terms but it is important that you lead with your message and the main motive behind your content and let your user know what to expect.

Social Media

Social media is all about the ‘conversation’. Engaging in conversation with your target audience means you’re intent on focusing on the people who use your site.

  • Do you allow visitors to your website to share and endorse your website content?
  • If you do what is the main objective? To increase your social shares to aid with a better search engine position or to allow your website visitors to start conversations about your content and share relevant content with their network?

It is important that your main focus here is the web visitor.

There you have it – user optimization in a nutshell. For 2013 – think UO (user optimization  and slowly banish SEO from your business vocabulary!

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Sandra Hennessy

Sandra Hennessy

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