While optimising websites and services for Search Engine Spiders or Web Crawlers makes sense, the real ROI is driven by engaging your users – your target audience. Here is what I call, Audience Based Optimisation (ABO), comes in.
Audience Based Optimisation (ABO)
In short, Audience Based Optimisation is about creating and delivering content or services that provide value to your target audience. This not only makes your content or service “findable”, but also engages your audience increasing the stickiness factor of your website. A List Apart featured article on Findability says “The fundamental goal of findability is to persistently connect your audience with the stuff you write, design, and build.”
While SEO may result in high traffic to your website, it makes little sense to be ranked high on your favourite search engine only to have your target audience leave within a couple of seconds after landing on your web page. Which, in all likelihood, is because they could not find what they were looking for or the content provided little value for them to engage with your website or service.
Audience Based Optimisation – SEO and more
ABO takes into consideration the Information Architecture, Usability and Accessibility of the website. All these components help to build a standards compliant website which in turn is easier to manage and maintain. Adhering to standards also makes your website accessible to a larger audience base, helps users find information quickly, and leads to a richer user experience.
Value added content through audience based optimisation
Marketers, in their enthusiasm to get ranked higher, neglect the usefulness and value that content adds to the user experience. Adding and repeating keywords to increase keyword density or having a large number of H1 tags is a strict no. This is because it leads to “unnatural” content and is not pleasant for users to read through. Optimising content for your target audience means catering to their needs and providing them with information that they can use and find value in.
Focus on the User Journey
Understanding your target audience – what they want and when, is key to providing a rich experience. Mapping the user flow helps identify all the possible entry points and the journey from there to the final goal.
Understanding and knowing where the user is within the flow allows you to present them relevant and contextual content as and when they need it.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that computer monitors and laptop screens are not convenient for reading long articles. To add to it most people want to find information quickly and to the point. So it helps to make content on web pages short, concise and scanable. If the content requires elaboration a link to a more detailed version of the content can be placed. This can either be a printable HTML page or a downloadable .pdf version that can be read at leisure.
Audience based optimisation and online social media
Keep in mind that search engines are only one of the many vehicles used to drive traffic to your website. Traffic to your website could be a result of referrers from blogs, articles, online forums and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc. This means the content on your website your article needs to be interesting and engaging for these folks to point to.
Again, simply using keywords in your tweets or having sales pitches on Facebook does little to gain credibility. Think about the value that your messages would add to your audience. How is your message going to help or benefit your target audience? This audience centric approach builds credibility that is passed on to your online brand and this in turn helps achieve a better ROI.
While SEO is a key tool for online marketers, too often, focusing on search engines (machines) creates a “blind spot” and the users (people) are forgotten.
Audience based optimisation focuses on creating content that is simple, easy to read, addresses your audience needs as well as meets business objectives. It is based on value creation for the user and not content creation for search engines. Hope, this is another step in creating websites, applications and content through thoughtful and meaningful design.