How do search engines see the web (and why does it matter)?

Whilst it’s tempting to only consider what you like (and what your customers want to see), it’s important to understand that search engines don’t see content on the web quite like we do.  Even more crucial is an appreciation of how they see content, and what that means for your presence online. In this blog we take a look at the web from the perspective of a search engine and explore the implications of ignoring the methodology and psychology of Google and Co. Read on to find out how a few simple changes and a commitment to quality could help your website to rank more highly for relevant search terms.

Search engines see content differently

Humans and search engines survey and process content very differently. Whilst as humans we process information on a multisensory basis reflecting our needs, attitude, mood and likes and dislikes, search engines have a solid set of criteria they use when viewing sites. This is because unlike humans, they only have one primary purpose when viewing a website – and that is to index and rank it for search.

Does your website tick all the boxes?

It helps to simplify the perspective of a search engine by likening its criteria to a physical tick list. So whilst you arrive on a website and experience it in an immersive, interactive way, a search engine arrives and checks the site thoroughly to build an impression of it for the purposes of relevancy. The ‘tick list’ includes:

Responsiveness – Can your site be viewed across multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops? 90% of browsing activity (and over 60% of ecommerce purchases) now occurs on a smartphone or tablet device. If your site fails to keep up, you’ll be penalised by search engines that want to ensure that users can experience your site no matter where they are accessing it from.

Load times – If your site is slow to load it will be penalised. Fast loading sites naturally deliver a better user experience.

Currency – When did you last update your site with new content? If you’re an ecommerce store then perhaps you’ll be adding new products daily or weekly. If not, ensure that you are posting regular blogs or frequently tweak your content to stay ahead of the curve.

Quality Search engines are on the lookout for broken links, missing images and non-existent pages – anything that could affect user experience or indicate that your site is poor quality and therefore not good enough to rank.

Black hat tactics – ‘Black hat’ SEO refers to questionable techniques used to ‘trick’ search engines into delivering high rankings. These include link or keyword cramming or hiding and duplicated content. Increasingly search engines are becoming wise to these tactics – handing out heavy penalties to businesses that fall foul to disreputable companies or deliberately try to deceive.

Using this tick list (along with sophisticated programmes to weed out keywords and backlinks to determine what your page or site is actually about) a search engine can rank your site appropriately. Fail to tick all the boxes however, and you may find that despite keyword-rich copy and quality content, you’re still not going to receive the exposure and traffic you need.

The quality of your presence online influences your ranking

The bottom line is that the quality of your presence online and the amount of effort, time, commitment and money spent on SEO and website development really counts when it comes to pleasing Google and other search engines. Yet increasingly consumers expect to see businesses online, or will only search there as opposed to picking up a copy of the Yellow Pages, or consulting a friend. Therefore no matter whatever portion of your profits need to come from the internet, you need to be concentrating resources on your online presence if you want to continue to claim your market share.

To find out more about our specialist SEO services and online marketing support get in touch todayor browse our case studies here. Our Beginner’s Guide to the Web series continues next week.

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