Crafting SEO for People, Not Just Google | A Case Study
When you search for something on Google, do you care how well optimized each website in the search results is? Probably not, you only really care about finding what you are looking for. But a lot of the SEO work being done these days centers around doing everything possible to appeal to Google so they can get into the search results. And sure, you do need to be in the search results, but you also need to communicate to people that you are what they are looking for
Click Me! Click Me!
Have you ever done a search and saw what you thought was the answer to all of your questions, only to find it had almost nothing to do with what you are looking for? Some sites consider that a win, but it is only a win if searchers are still interested in you even though they were not actively looking for you. And that usually is not the case. You do need to get into the search results, but you really need to craft your SEO to appeal to your target audience.
The Search Groundwork
I have recently been doing some work on the True Story Christian Movies website where the main products are DVD movies.
- The first step of the SEO process for this site is to identify the value proposition, which is the core element that sets you apart in the marketplace. In this case, it’s Christian movies based on true stories.
- The second step is to identify the audience, which is Christian movie watchers.
- And the third step is to anticipate the search queries of the audience.
For True Story Christian Movies (TSCM) we knew that people were not going to be looking for the company. They were going to be looking for two things, the category of true story movies, and the movies themselves. So we geared the SEO and the on-page content of every page toward these two main types of search queries. For the background pages, like “About Us,” we geared toward the category of true story movies. And of course the product pages we geared toward the specific films.
SEO Poetry In Motion
Once all of the groundwork is done (which is only easy if you do it first) then it is time to put together the meta-tags which will form your actual search results. The title tag and the meta description tag is critical. They form what people will usually see in their search results. This is where branding, marketing, and a dab of SEO savvy all come into play.
For TSCM we decided to place the brand name first, followed by a five word description that communicates the critical information of what the brand is and what it sells. Combine the obvious nature of the brand’s name along with this description and you understand the basics of the value proposition. We then crafted a meta description that emphasizes the value proposition and expands the users view of the brand to better represent the scope of its products. See the example below.
Every word of this description was weighed and pondered. There was a lot more we wanted to say but could not fit in, and some words we used do not appear critical, such as “greatest possible selection.” However, we kept in mind both the audience and other results for these types of search queries and noticed there were no other realistic or thorough search results. With that in mind, we mixed in some believability to create search results that speak to our audience and effectively communicate what they will find if they click through.
For product pages we followed a similar structure, but were more emotive as we described the product due to the searcher having a slightly different mindset and expectation. Here we placed the product name and type first, followed by the brand. This is because people are most interested in what they are searching for, in this case a movie. See the example below.
We then reinforced the product name and the brand by including both phrases in the URL. This search result stands out, it communicates clearly, and the target user will instantly know that they found what they are looking for.
A very important thing to keep in mind is your search results need to accurately reflect what is on the page. If the content of the page is too different from your meta description, then Google will actually use other content from your page to show in the search results. And they will bypass and ignore your meta tags. The perceived value expressed in the search results should parallel what users experience when they click through.
The Take Away
What many do not realize is that Google’s mission is to return the best search results possible. Crafting your website’s SEO to appeal to your audience brings you into the line of thinking that Google rewards. And it makes your site easier to be found by those who are actually looking for you; people