Is the content on our sites for SEO or users?

I was thinking today that when I go to a web page, I’m turned off by large amounts of text and paragraphs. I always go straight for the bulleted lists.

But I started thinking, those large amounts of texts are probably much better for SEO. The more content you have on a page the more likely people have of finding you through search engines (I believe this to be correct, to a point?).

So what’s it going to be?

A combination of paragraphs and bulleted lists to please both humans and machines?

If you write for search engines instead of humans, the humans won’t like your site enough to link to it more than the competition. Those links matter more than anything you put on your page.

One of my main sources of income is an ecommerce site with a homepage having probably 3 sentences worth of text on the page, that’s all. It has #1 rankings for many highly competitive, very valuable search phrases on all the major search engines because my customers are happy with the product and link to the site.

The goal of a search engine is to bring the BEST sites for a given search (best content, best products, best services, whatever that is) to the user. How they go about doing that (counting keywords on the page, summing up PageRank, counting social network mentions) will change over time as it always has. If you ARE the best site for the search then you have thousands of engineers at Google/Microsoft working to make sure their algorithm finds you no matter how it works. If you’re NOT the best but are working the SEO strategy of the day, tweaking this metric and that to fight for ranking, you’re working against those people instead of with them and will always be one algorithm update away from losing it all.

Sorry a little confused, what links are you talking about?

Just because someone likes your site doesn’t it make appear in search results.

thanks for the response

Ok I get it, people who like your site will put your URL on other sites, and you’re saying those links on other sites are more valuable than any SEO you can do on your site?

Yes, that’s been the basic underpinning of all search ranking algorithms for the past decade. Analysis of the link graph establishes the base ‘importance’ of every page on the web, then you start looking at all the other stuff (link text, on-page text, subject match between linking sites) to filter stuff out and nudge the rankings.

It has been recognised for years that writing for the web involves a different syle to writing for print – it should be shorter, punchier, and using bulleted lists is often better for the reader. We know that reading off a screen (with the exception of a Kindle) is harder than reading off a page, which is why people don’t like reading long paragraphs. Unfortunately, as with so many aspects of web design, that message hasn’t always filtered down to the people who are creating websites and creating the content for websites. A business owner who has written long, elaborate, flowing prose for his brochures might be loath to see that whittled down to a few stark bullet points on his website, and may insist that the full article is reproduced in all its textual glory online.

What’s worse is that I know that writing long paragraphs online is bad, and yet I still do it. As this reply shows, as many of my other messages on SPF show, as many of my websites show. It’s just the way I write, with long, wittering paragraphs that meander around for ages, subtly hinting at the point but never quite getting there. I try, I really try, to make things short and punchy and bullety, but it just isn’t my style. I think that, for many websites, long paragraphs of text are not there to deliberately seduce googlebot (long paragraphs are likely to be less keyword-rich than short, punchy bullet points, because they’re usually full of filler words), but because the author doesn’t properly understand what web writing should look like.

Or, in a web friendly format:

[list][]short, punchy bullet points are better than long, flowing paragraphs on the web
]not everyone knows that
[]even people who do know it sometimes find it difficult to be concise
]don’t blame conspiracy when incompetence is just as good an answer
[*]everyone can be brief if they try, even me :cool:[/list]

that’s hanlon’s razor :cool:

Exactly. Google wants to give a top ranking to sites that have really popular content that other people will want to look at. They’re not in the business of rewarding sites that put lots of effort into their SEO strategy – how would that benefit surfers?

In an ideal world, SEO would be just about making sure your site is easy for search engines to read and understand, and writing the title and description that will give maximum click-through from your target audience. Obviously there will always be an aspect of asking other website owners to link to you, because not everyone knows about every other site, and there will be times when suggesting they add a link to your site can help them and their visitors as well.

But Google doesn’t want site owners to be busy beavering away submitting their site to directories and linking back to it on forums and blogs. That doesn’t tell them who has the best site, it tells them who has the biggest marketing budget (in time or money), which they really couldn’t care less about.

I think the excellence of your content may lead your site to “forwarding links” from other resource sites. This will also grab people’s attention and eventually bring them back again or share your site to others . Always keep your keyword phrases in mind in writing the content of your site. So as to volume, the more facts you share, the better it would sound to the readers.

You have to get people to your site first and then make them like it second because if they don’t find your site it doesn’t matter how good the content!

Yeah its true but quality of content does matter.What happened when people come to your site and found useless or too long content.No body has time to go through all that.For indexing your site one should go for link building tactics but remember “content is a king”.So write your content for visitors not for search engines.Your popularity increases your SERP and page rank both.