Website Optimization: Humans vs. Spiders

The best website design companies in the market have mastered the art of speaking two languages at once: the English that most of the internet’s users speak, and the markup language that most if not every website spider uses to teach itself about the contents of a site. It’s a more difficult trick than it seems. No matter how simple your website, optimization for two variables means neither one of those variables will end up as good as it can be.

Here’s an example of what we mean: spiders read text, and nothing else, but human eyes love pictures. Putting up a landing page that consists of little more than a giant Flash banner and a few links to other pages on the site might be awesome from and end-user perspective, but gives Google no idea of what the page might be about, because the Flash banner is just a giant blank spot to a spider.

Similarly, a spider starts in your left-most column and reads down, then moves to the next-leftist column, and reads down, and so forth. Search engines put more emphasis on the text that comes at the beginning of a website — but if you’re designing for a human, you may assume that the ‘beginning’ is the top of the central, ‘main’ column, and you’d be wrong. The most important stuff should be at the top of the left-most column, even if, to human eyes, that looks a little odd. (This is why columns on the right side of blogs are more popular than those on the left side.)

So if you want your content to rank the most easily, you want to write for the spiders, but if you want it to get the most social attention, you want to write for human minds. How do you do both at the same time? Well, first you familiarize yourself with the rules of on-page SEO and the mechanics of how spiders work. Then, you find the most human-friendly content that will fit into that cookie cutter. It’s something that the best website design companies have been doing for years.