Search Engines versus Visitors

In the bid to drive traffic to their sites, webmasters often forget why they are in business, and who keeps them in business. Most search engine optimization experts and forums focus on the search engines. The reasons are not far fetched; search engines are the biggest source of qualified traffic to most sites. Without traffic, you are out of business.

But that is not the end of the story. What search engines think about you is very important, but what visitors think about you makes or breaks you. It is visitors that deliver your Most Wanted Response (MWP). If you are selling goods or services online, and your visitors are pissed off with you, search engines cannot come to your rescue. Search engines cannot click through any pages on your site, visit your order page, and place an order. Visitors do.

It makes one wonder why search engines are the main focus in site design and layout, and not visitors, the main reason why the sites were set up in the first place.

One needs to strike a balance between pleasing the search engines and visitors. Visitors should come first. Search engine optimization should be carried out within the corridor whereby visitor experience will not be compromised.

One clear area where the visitor’s interest is thrown to the winds is links/resource pages. This page is meant to be an additional resource for visitors to garner more information on the subject matter. Hard copy books on a subject matter often have at the end, books recommended for further reading. In the list are books that readers can buy, if they want to read further on the subject matter, if they are so inclined. Obviously books on the list have the same theme or are related to subject matter of the publication. Readers who want to seek further information on the subject have the option of buying any of the books on the recommended list.

On the internet, a lot of webmasters simply don’t care. They came to the understanding that Google Page Rank PR plays a big role in search engine rankings, and has a lot to do with to number of incoming links a website has. With that information, they set out to battle. They slap a link/resources page in the middle of nowhere, and go about looking for links with gusto. So far as it is a link, they do not care; they go all out for it. They end up with a link farm with all sorts of strange links on the same page. Some webmasters do not bother spacing out the links, or making them legible. Their eyes are not traffic; they don’t care how their visitors feel.

For some webmasters, the main considerations for placing their page elements are search engines. Search engines determine what goes where. User behavior is not taken into consideration in page layout. The route search engine spiders/robots take determine the sequence and position of page elements.

Still some webmasters, in a bid to make a quick buck from Google Adsense plaster their pages with Google ads. What can be quite annoying sometimes is to look for content, and the first thing you see at the middle column intro is a large slab of Google ad. You come looking for content, and what you get is Ads by Google.

For enduring success online, webmasters have to leave behind a trail of satisfied visitors time and time again. Visitors that will not only keep coming back, but will also tell their friends. A look at your traffic stats tells a story. Number of return visits, page views, entry and exit pages, number of people that added your site to their favorites list etc… These are the folks that click through and deliver your most wanted response. These are the folks that make you money. These are the folks that keep you in business, even if the search engines stop sending you traffic. They have your link in their favorites list. They can always find their way back. Unique visitors can still come through quality sites you exchanged links with.

Apart from delivering a unique content/service, you also need to make money to remain online. You need your visitors to achieve this. That is why it is critical to be yourself and follow your dreams. Don’t allow search engines to run you off course. Search engines are important no doubt, but ultimately it is people that will make you achieve your reason for going online. Have a goal and remain focused. Keep your eyes on your goal. Be it service or content, be the best that you can be.

If your site has excellent content, it is a matter of time, the traffic will come. Other sites will link to you without asking for a link back. People will tell their friends. Before long, the search engines will take notice and spiders/robots will be all over your site.

By staying focused on your visitors and your goal, you get the best of both worlds. By focusing on high rankings at the detriment of unique content and adding value to visitors, you get to lose the traffic you worked so hard for, as you cannot keep them coming back. Soon, the search engines you worked so hard to please will take notice and sometime soon, you will drop off the radar.

As Google stated in its Webmaster guidelines, build your site as if search engines do not exist. It makes a lot of sense in the long term. It is about your visitors. They make or break you, ultimately.