The trend in optimising websites and services for Search Engine Spiders or Web Crawlers makes little sense. Real ROI is driven by meaningfully engaging with your users – your target audience. Call this Audience Based Optimisation (ABO).
Audience Based Optimisation (ABO)
In short, Audience Based Optimisation is about creating and delivering content that provides value to your target audience. This is done by ensuring your content is “findable”, is relevant and is correct at all times. Understanding your audience, the context they are operating in and providing them with the right information helps to not only engage with your audience in a meaningful way but also increases 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 and SEM may drive 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, Taxonomy, Usability and Accessibility of the website. All these components also helps 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.
The other benefit of focusing content creation based on your audience and their needs is that it directly helps with SEO. Most marketeers speculate what and how the search algorithms work. In short, no one really knows what’s under the hood of these search engines. And because these algorithms change and evolve frequently, focusing on primarily on SEO only means constantly fiddling and tweaking elements that probably don’t have a direct impact on ranking.
As search engines get more intelligent, they will start ranking websites based on relevance and usefulness of content to the user. This again implies focusing on your audience and creating useful content is probably the way to go.
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
Mapping the user journey helps to identify points of friction and moments of delight along the user’s journey. Understanding your target audience – what they want and when, is key to providing a rich, holistic experience.
Understanding and knowing where the user is within the flow allows you to present them with relevant and contextual content as and when they need it.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that computer monitors, laptop screens and mobile devices are not convenient for reading long articles. To add to it most people want to find information quickly and get through it quickly as well. So it helps to make content on web pages short, concise and “scanable”.
Think about the value that your content provides your audience. How is your content 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.
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.