SEO has a new meaning

SEO always used to mean Search Engine Optimisation, but now we should read it as Search Experience Optimisation.

I read a blog recently where I saw this phrase used for the first time and it was a light bulb moment for me because it completely encapsulated what it is that I believe Google is pushing us towards when it comes to optimising websites.

Simply replacing the ‘E’ word with Experience instead of Engine makes us look at the whole optimisation process in a completely different light.


Instead of the focus being on the Search Engine we need to focus on the site visitor and the experience that they have as they use the website. When we adopt this perspective then we will be driven to look at a whole range of things that we would not necessarily focus on, or more likely give as much importance to, if we were only looking at the website through spiders’ eyes.

Search Experience Optimisation will involve everything from how the site visitor finds the website in the first instance, their first impressions when they land on the site and their journey around and through the site.

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This means that we must carefully consider such things as;

  • How does the site ‘look and feel’ – is it immediately inviting and engaging? Is it clear to them that this is a site that can answer their questions, solve their problems, meet their needs, give them the information they are seeking?
  • How easy is the site to navigate – is it a clear and logical navigation, are there any road blocks, diversions or dead ends getting in the way and frustrating them?
  • Is the content relevant to them? Is it current, informative, original, does it deliver real value to them? Is there enough content to keep them engaged and moving through the site?
  • What are the Calls to Action – are they clear and concise, are they simple to do – or are we making them work too hard? Are they being guided and helped to take the next steps on the journey through the site?
  • Will the site accommodate them and respond correctly depending on the device they want to view through – desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone?

These are the sort of things that a focus on the site visitor’s search experience leads us to look at. It makes us study the website from the perspective of the target audience not the search engine spider.

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I know that a lot of what I have detailed above would have been considered under the old Search Engine Optimisation approach but not in enough detail, and not I think in such a holistic way as to really deliver the optimum experience for the website visitor. Other levers and factors would have received much more attention such as link building and meta tagging and keyword density in content.

That is not to say that these things are no longer valid but that their importance is not as high as it was because other things must be addressed first, such as creating truly relevant, original valuable content, ease of use of the website and website performance in terms of enhancing the site visitor experience i.e. usability.

If we can properly optimise the site visitors experience then all the other things that we working to achieve via Search Engine Optimisation – like quality in-bound links, increased social engagement and content sharing and ultimately as a result higher search ranking positions – these things will be achieved naturally. This is exactly what Google wants to see happening too.

The optimisation companies who continue to focus on the Search Engine aspect of SEO will, in my view, find themselves missing the big new wave, they are going to get dumped and will be left paddling hard to catch up, while those who focus on the Search Experience aspects will stay on their boards and keep on surfing.

If you would like more information on how you can develop your own SEO approach in view of this changed emphasis on the site visitor experience or if you have any questions or comments please let us know. We’d be delighted to hear from you. Contact us on 0845 201 1671 or mail us at Search Experience Optimisation

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