Not Just for Google: How SEO Specialists Affect Readability


How SEO Specialists Affect Readability | Person Reading on Tablet

When search engine optimization is done right on a website, Google is a lot more likely to give that site rankings above competitors not doing SEO. SERP specialists are constantly performing SEO for clients to please Google and hopefully generate traffic for their accounts. But is that all that SEO is good for? What about the users? How can search engine optimization be used to not only give Google the respect it deserves but also help readers stay engaged with the content and give a pleasurable reading experience? This is where SEO specialists turn expert. When you can guide readers through content yet still give Google all the indicators it requires to view your site as reputable, you’re most likely an expert SEO specialist.

Ways That SEO Specialists Affect Readability

SEO Specialists Affect on Readability | Woman Happily Reading on TabletThere are some standard SEO practices that are used when optimizing most pages, such as:

  • Header Formats
  • Keyword Density
  • Alt Text on Images
  • Meta Data
  • Internal Linking and External Linking

These are usually indicators that Google is looking for to determine if your site is reputable, functional, and relevant enough to rank for user views. However, these are not just “hacks” to get a site ranked high on search engine result pages. The purpose of these optimizations is to give the reader the best viewing experience possible, while on your page. Each of the standards above has a purpose intended for ease of use for the reader. So, what are the purposes of each?

Paragraph Headers

For the purpose of search engine optimization, a true SEO Specialist would never let a top-level header tag display without trying to insert a valuable keyword in the text. This is such a common practice that SEO analysis tools will give warnings when a focus keyword isn’t present in a top-level header. Lower tier headers (H2, H3, etc..) are also used by SEO Specialist for keyword opportunities but not as aggressively as an H1 and they will usually use keyword variations to get more keywords to rank on a single page. This has been proven to be effective for SEO and for pleasing Google, but how does it help the reader?

Search Engine Optimization Effect on Readability | Person Performing Header in SoccerThe idea of paragraph headers isn’t new and you’ve most likely been seeing them in just about anything you read of some length. These headers, or “paragraph titles” are simple ways to let a reader know what subject they are about to read about in the text. An H1 tag generally tells you the overall subject of the entire piece of content, while the lower tier header tags are used to break up paragraphs into different subjects and gives you a quick idea of what the following paragraph will be about. This is especially helpful when someone is just scanning a page for a specific piece of information, as it keeps them from having to browse the entire page when they can just jump directly to the subject they are looking for.

Headers are also helpful when a table of contents is being used for easier navigation of a larger piece of content. This way each header can be linked in the ToC and users can easily navigate to the subject they desire.

When search engine optimization is done right on a website, Google is a lot more likely to give that site rankings above competitors... Click To Tweet

How SEO Specialists Use Titles & Alt Text on Images

SEO Specialists are always looking for new opportunities to insert their valued keywords into content, and inserting images into a page gives two opportunities per image to get the keyword on the page. These two sections to insert keywords into images are the Alt Text and Title sections. This is another opportunity that is important enough to be mentioned on SEO Tools if it is not utilized. For some SEO Specialists, however, this has been known to cause more problems than benefits when used incorrectly as Google has recognized the misuse of Alt-Text and penalizes for these Black Hat SEO tactics. Spamming an image with keywords in alt text or titles will guarantee you lose authority on your page.

SEO Specialist Optimize for Readbility | Doctor for the Visually ImpairedOne of the main reasons that Google put its foot down on these keyword spamming tactics is because they negate the intended use for alt text which is for readability and visually impaired users. The true purpose of alt text on images is to give visually impaired users a description of the image being displayed if they are using text readers. So, spamming an image’s alt text with keyword variations gives no clue to the user what is being displayed which defeats Google’s purpose of search intent. To stay within Google’s standards and still get the benefits of using keywords in the Alt text, SEO Specialists are known to use a combination of “keyword | text describing image” to get the benefit and please Google simultaneously. The Title tag is a little more flexible. It gives a description of the image when a user hovers over it. SEO Specialists will usually explain the image using their keyword in this situation.

Internal and External Linking

This aspect of adding content to pages is very important for both SEO Specialists, Google, and users. Those doing the optimization on a page will often look for chances to link relevant content to each other using “anchor text” in a page as the linking point. When Google gives the original page “rank” this “rank juice” is then passed on to the linked page which oftentimes helps that page to rank as well. By using keywords that the linked page wants to rank for, SEO Specialists gain extra benefit from Google. While internal linking is important to help users navigate throughout a website, external links take the user offsite, to another relevant site that helps the user find what they are looking for. Each of these linking strategies is hardcoded into the SEO Specialists standards and is very important to Google’s search intent regulations.

As for the user, linking is very helpful in keeping the person browsing on a relevant path. Every user searches a website with an intent in mind. Whether it be to buy clothing, book a flight, or learn new information, it is the website’s responsibility to make sure the intent of the search meets a destination or conversion point desired by the user. If Google feels your site isn’t relevant to the searcher’s intent, then your site can be penalized.

SEO is Primarily for the Searchers, Secondarily for Google

It has been said time and time again. Whether you are researching how to perform SEO or hiring someone to do it for you. The best SEO is not about keywords, it is about creating the best online experience for the user. To be good at SEO, you should always remember that although you were hired to please Google into ranking your work, Google is only interested in bringing users the information they desire. So, don’t think “what does Google want from my site to rank it?” think more along the lines of, “How do I create a great experience for my users, which will in turn please Google, and bring me even me users?” That answer is everywhere. Create good content, use all the “user-friendly” features available to SEO Specialists to help users reach their goal. Then convert them.

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