Optimize for People: Chicago SEO and Tips for Clicks


The biggest names in business sometimes have the worst ideas when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. I think this may be because they don’t remember why they are designing the website that they’re investing so much into.

An algorithm designed to defeat bots, or even worse, train bots of your own, often misses the point of the internet and websites as a whole. The internet is for people, so why does it increasingly seem like websites aren’t?

Well, this is a common issue with user interface design, but also with the back-end design of that website. The user interface, backend architecture, and keyword optimization need not conflict, and often they can coalesce into a truly exceptional site for all manner of activities.

Tech websites often have some of the ugliest designs, but they serve a distinct purpose. So, let’s learn to tell the difference between the functional and the absurd in over-optimization.


Don’t Be Hasty!

Perhaps this is best left unsaid, but websites take time and a lot of websites end up looking horrible because someone didn’t pay sufficient attention to a minor detail through their sleepy coffee-fueled programming haze. If you want to look for problems in a website, you can easily do this by knowing when that company was founded or the website was designed.

The standard SEO timeline for any industry will vary, but for many tech companies, it can take departments a long time to have a proper work of art ready for the business. You’d think in this field it would be easy to know who is good at what, but often the worst end up making the website.

This is not a good thing at all. If you are giving that kind of job to a non-specialist it can be frustrating when they produce something that isn’t up to the industry standard, but in the end, you were the one who didn’t outsource to someone who knew how to design.

Websites aren’t just a vehicle for functionality, and the best combine that level of use with a design that is akin to interactive art. The first tip then: find yourself an artist, not an employee, to do your design.

One of the best tips anyone ever told me was to account for mobile. Turns out, for that specific website over 80% of the traffic came from people googling stuff on their phones.

This same person was great at giving advice for design when he said only to write something if someone somewhere might find it useful. It’s one thing to optimize for SEO, and you should click here to see some tips for that, but it’s another thing entirely to have something that will keep people coming.

Keywords and Their Pitfalls

You’ve probably heard how search engines find what they’re looking for, by using bots to crawl the net and rank things based on keywords, page views, links, etc. This is well known by now, so you’re probably thinking that to maximize search engine ranking the best thing to do is just absolutely fill a page with keywords.

This may work for some huge databases, but a lot of search engines rate against you for an overabundance of “gaming the system” against them. Almost like a page being too good for its own good.

So, to hit a good balance you should have a lot of these important search terms and phrases obvious, but not too many. In my experience, these types of conundrums are best answered by solving the problem organically.

When a keyword can be added, do so, but don’t force it. One exception is images, for which you should nearly always have some level of optimization for search engines such as alt-text which is an exceptionally easy method of gathering impressions.

In general, certain HTML tricks can help highlight important phrases so that they appear first, and if you know your stuff in your field you can probably guess what people are searching. The best way to tell this is to ask what you would search for in a problem. Use yourself or a friend as a base, then go from there.

Be Useful

It may seem contradictory if you are providing a service to give someone advice on that same service. All I can say is avoid the trap of “always call the experts” and then leaving a phone number.

Giving good, useful, actionable advice and definitions for common issues gives you a serious air of authority that may not get a bot’s attention, but the average person is a thousand times more positive than the alternative.