This past weekend I watched an interesting interview with Marissa Mayer, new CEO of Yahoo, former Google executive. In it, Mayer describes a day when web search will advance to the degree that we interact with it natively (natural speech searches, for example) and it eventually fades out of focus entirely through perfectly seamless and ubiquitous integration. Of course, we’re not there yet, but it got me thinking about how good Google has become at its job – out of the billions of webpages that exist, users can pinpoint the set of 10 that will best serve their needs in just seconds. And where search results years ago where heavily dependent on website authors’ explicit focus on search engine optimization, Google’s most recent search technology does a better job than ever of assessing content ranking on the basis of the content itself, not a bunch of SEO tricks.
When we redesigned our website www.hostednumbers.com we did so with SEO best practices in mind, but our real focus was devoted to the content as actual visitors would see it, not search engines. We still mapped content to keywords that are priorities for us, like local phone numbers, virtual numbers, and the like, of course, but our primary objective was to present the website in a manner that clearly communicated our value proposition. Our theory was that if we focused on creating content that looked great and read well to our visitors, our SEO would be a reflection of our overall content quality.
Well, it’s been a month since the release, and how did it turn out? We’ve seen an increase of over 25% in our organic traffic, and our conversion rate has increased by roughly 20%. This experience was refreshing for us, because it indicated that, while SEO hasn’t faded completely out of focus by any means, Google’s demand on content creation is slowly giving way to a type of SEO that allows content creators to worry less about SEO and more about how the content will be seen by visitors. So, the next time you set out to create a new page for your website, remember that ultimately you’re writing for people – not search engines. If you create a great content experience for your audience, chances are you’ll have achieved your SEO goals one in the same.