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October 03, 2012

Why Humans Matter

October 03, 2012

It's interesting to think about the debate of man versus machine, especially when it comes to search engine optimization. In the past, and even to some extent today, machines have won out over man pretty consistently in the SEO world (think - what can I do to get the search engines to rank my website highly?) SEO likes to cater to the "machine," because it's easier to solve, easier to please and easier to understand.

But maybe man should be the winner.

Computers are becoming more and more advanced (think Watson on Jeopardy), They may eventually surpass humans in virtually every capacity, or at least be able to predict our behavior and seamlessly interact with humans. I like the idea that we all may become basically computers or a computer-hybrid in the not-to-distant future. But as of right now, humans still have a major advantage over computers - individual creative, critical thinking.

This ties into SEO in 2 major ways:

  1. Everybody searches differently. We use commonly use similar words or phrases, but everyone approaches search in their own unique and creative way.
  2. Everyone uses critical thinking to decide which search result website to click. Search engines strive to give users the best answers, but each person still has to make the final, critical decision of which search result is best.

This is why humans matter so much to SEO. You can jump through all of the hoops to try to get your website ranking on page 1, but you still have to convince the humans to choose you over the other 9 results. Humans, not machines or Google or Bing or a super-secret algorithm, are the final decision makers. They decide if they want to choose you, if they like your website and if you give them the answers they are looking for.

So the winner is?…

Both. The computer is essential, you don't have search results or search at all without it. But humans are equally essential. Each one needs the other to succeed. We forget this - it's easy to get wrapped up in algorithms and optimization, and lose complete sight of the end user.

So next time you find yourself forcing in an awkward keyword, or creating a page that no one will read - stop, and ask yourself  - am I doing this for a human, or for a machine?


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