Google have been telling us for years that we need to care about users, this is directly from their Webmaster Guidelines:
“Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience”
To rephrase this slightly; ‘Google’s goal is to provide users with the best experience of Google.’
Search is still Google’s core product, and their success is still directly tied to monetising search results. It’s in their best interest to serve the most satisfying content to their users.
Users + experience = user experience
At the core of user experience is, you guessed it, users. I know this seems blatantly obvious and a little bit stupid for me to write. Nevertheless, user experience is a concept that seems to be lost on many search professionals. Here is why.
There are many different ways that both search professionals and usability professionals gather information about users. Focus groups, Web analytics data, keyword research, field interviews, and usability tests are all ways that these professionals can gather information about searcher behavior and interaction with a website. Search professionals rely heavily on keyword research tools and Web analytics data to determine how users, and search engines, interact with a website. However, as I outlined in a previous article, When Keyword Research and Search Data Deceives, keyword data can lead search marketers down the wrong path.
Combine SEO and User Experience Elements
From an SEO standpoint, huge chunks of text are good. Not only do they give the search engines’ spider programs a better understanding of your site’s focus area (increasing the odds that you’ll rank for the right search queries in the natural results), they also improve keyword discovery for webmasters (increasing the number of search queries for which you’ll rank).
But from a user standpoint, long stretches of uninterrupted text-based content aren’t all that great. Nobody wants to click on to a new website—only to be assaulted by the sheer volume of required reading offered by some pages.
That said, you don’t need to choose between the text content that’s favored by the search engines and the graphic experience preferred by website visitors. Just keep “the fold” of your website’s pages in mind. Because the first few moments of interaction on your website are so critical to interesting and retaining new visitors, consider including graphic elements on the top of your pages (where they’ll be seen right away by users) and text blogs on the bottom (where they’ll still be accessible by the search engines). Everybody wins!