It’ll be a cold day in hell, if they stop generating articles after articles on SEO by the minute. Much has been said and it has been put to some great use. The advice I come across most often is to write for the real user! As searchenginewatch.com explains, In SEO, It’s Not What You Do, It’s How You Do It!
I suggest the mantra to do genuine optimization activities and to understand the importance (or lack of it) for any SEO activity is to tell yourself that,
Search engines are just hyper-vigilant end-users!
I decide on SEO tasks, based on this criteria:
If a site visitor does not want it, search engines definitely look down upon it.
Any SEO guideline I look at, fulfills the above criteria. Ask yourself a question, ‘Would an end-user want this?’ and if the answer is yes, then it is a good SEO task to do. How badly would the end-users want it, defines the priority for the SEO task. Some example below.
|User expectation||SEO guideline|
|Would a user want a faster page load time? Yes. Needed sorely. Right now.||Load time of a page/site decides their positioning in search results. See this.|
|Would a user want the content to be accessible? Yes. The more, the better.||Accessibility indeed helps in SEO tremendously. See this and this.|
|Would a user like link spam, say from a source you paid money to buy links? No. Users hate to be spammed!||Do not engage in any link building that is nefarious. See this.|
Hence the recent move in the industry towards Search Experience Optimization (SEO), rather than Search Engine Optimization. The essence of all SEO activities is to provide the best possible experience to the site visitor. All SEO tactics are rooted in the principles of usability. Optimization for the search engine is just a means to an end.
Edited, May 22, 2015: Even Google officially recommends this approach in as many words! Check out their guiding questions in the section ‘What counts as a high-quality site?’, in the article More guidance on building high-quality sites. “We encourage you to keep questions like the ones above in mind as you focus on developing high-quality content rather than trying to optimize for any particular Google algorithm.“