Seeing is Deceiving
For users and search engines, content is the key to site comprehension. When attempting to improve a site’s search ranking, developing content should be the top priority. According to Google, helpful and captivating content affects your site more than any other SEO tools. What is equally important to creating compelling site content, though, is that this content can be seen by all parties.
What users see on a website and what search engines see are two completely separate visuals. By using Overdrive’s Lynx Viewer, users can view sites through the eyes of a search engine. In stripping a site’s content down to its bare bones, you can learn a valuable lesson in SEO.
Silly Bandz, one of the most popular items right now among elementary and middle school children, shows two dissimilar sites to users and search engines. It fills the page with colors, video and images, which are all visually appealing to users.
However, instead of seeing a completed portfolio with all these visual elements, search engines see an empty sketchbook. When sites do not back up flashy elements with text links, search engines see something entirely different from what users see.
Not only does this devalue the content of the homepage, where search engines cannot see the visual content, but it hurts the site’s sub-pages as well. It is much more difficult for engines to navigate sub-pages on a site if they cannot see links to them on the homepage.
Taking it one step further, a site that excessively uses images and Flash instead of text will not rank as well as it could for target keywords. Sillybandz.com does not appear in Google’s top 30 search results for “kids rubber bands,” “colored rubber bands,” or “toy rubber bands.” Google AdWords estimates a combined 52,440 searches for those terms per year, a number that will surely rise for a fad that just hit the East Coast late last year. It is easy to imagine that a parent who does not know the brand by name would type one of those phrases into a search engine.
Ultimately, if a site’s content cannot be seen by search engines, a site owner cannot expect an improvement in natural search results. Improving search results requires content and links that are both user-friendly and browser-friendly.