Monthly Archives: November 2010

Optimize for Search Engines or Users?

Over the years a lot of SEOs have gone back and forth over this legendary question:

“Do you optimize for search engines or users?”

From my SEO point of view, it’s a ridiculous question.

We like to ask leading questions, and this either or type question is extremely prevalent in our daily lives:

  • Do you take the red pill or the blue pill?
  • Do you cut the red or green wire?
  • Do we go left or right?
  • Nikon or Canon?
  • Chevy or Ford?
  • Pepsi or Coke?

From an SEO point of view, can you see what’s wrong with all of these questions? They’re written to suggest that you only have two choices, when in fact a creative SEO will be able to come up with a lot more than two answers. SEO is usually not constrained by physical limitations of the real world, as in the questions above.

The most obvious answer to the question is that you optimize for both. The two choices given in the question are not necessarily mutually exclusive, that assumption is inferred by the question. Challenge your assumptions!

Other answers could be:
1) Test and see which wins
2) Take sections of your site and focus each section on either engines or users.
3) Create a similar site and write it the other way, then refer to #1.

You see, even with a question that started off with what appeared to be only two possible answers, within a few seconds, we’ve expanded to many more possibilities. With some more creativity, you can probably come up with a larger selection.

So next time you’re asked a leading question, take a moment, challenge your assumptions, then deliver your creative SEO answer.