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Search Engine Friendly vs. Search Engine Optimized… What’s the Difference?

Search Engine Friendly vs. Search Engine Optimized

In today’s digital era, making the decision to build a website is much different than it was even just a few years ago. Now, websites are facing more competition than ever to compete for visibility in search engines. To get an idea of just how big the web is, according to The Atlantic, there were fewer than 3,000 websites online in 1994. By 2014, there were more than 1 billion. Quick math, that’s a 33 million percent increase in just 20 years! That’s nuts! Because of this, the decision to build a website is not as simple as it used to be.

Every day, companies of all sizes across the globe are making the decision to build websites for their brands. Many of those business owners, marketing managers or project coordinators will make their decision based on wanting ‘a beautiful new website’. Maybe you’re a decision maker doing your due diligence right now and researching your options, in which case, we applaud you! It’s important at this step that you consider what you want your website to actually do:

  • Are you going to want to use it to help build brand awareness?
  • Will this be an internal or sales tool for your company?
  • Do you want it to be a lead generating tool?
  • Is it the center-point of a larger digital marketing plan?

No matter what the functionality or purpose is for your site, here’s something you should know––your website is more than design, it’s more than content, and it’s more than the technology used to build it. Your website is solving a problem or a need. When you combine your design, content and development efforts with a search engine friendly or search engine optimization strategy, you are at the very least choosing to set up your website with the tools it needs to be successful––which ultimately is to help you reach your business goals. But, there are a few key differences between search engine friendly and search engine optimized websites that you should be aware of, so let’s dig in.

Search Engine Friendly Website
A search engine friendly website really is how it sounds. You’re setting up your website with search engine friendly navigation, which requires a structure that search engines can follow. So from the beginning, the website’s navigation is developed using structural best-practices and any technical issues that could hinder search performance are considered. Design should also consider simple navigation, image optimization, and content should be written so that it’s easy to read and understand.  If you haven’t heard the “write for 5th graders” rule well, here it is: write your content so that even a 5th grader could understand it. You can write at a 5th-grade level without dumbing down your content. Some of the best magazines and newspapers are written at grade-school levels to improve reader comprehension. While this helps with your users, it’s also a great practice for setting up your content so that search engines can crawl your copy.

Search Engine Optimized Website
Although the same rules of being search engine friendly apply, optimizing your website means you’re taking it to the next level. SEO addresses the structure and any technical fixes needed for your website to maximize its crawlability. Keyword research and content/keyword mapping plays a big role in the optimization of a website. It’s a more detailed, strategic and hands-on approach to making sure every aspect of content on your website is optimized for your target users. So not only is your site built to be structurally sound and crawlable, but all inbound and outbound links, images, and content become added value within your site. There’s one more big factor in the difference between “friendly” and “optimized”. A search engine optimized website is typically the center of a digital marketing strategy that doesn’t stop at the launch of your new website. SEO is a tool that supports digital marketing because of its relation to other aspects of a digital marketing strategy such as social media, paid digital ads, blogging and email marketing. But that’s another blog post in itself. 😉

These are two different ways of setting up your website, but both practices ultimately have the same goal of helping your site gain visibility in search engines. And while there are always going to be companies claiming they can help you reach a #1 ranking on Google overnight, nothing is ever going to be as effective as building your website with a solid foundation – the rest will fall into place. Just take a look at your digital marketing goals, and choose the option that will most likely help you achieve the results you’re looking for.

Are you in the process of deciding if you need a search engine friendly or search engine optimized website? We’d be happy to help you understand your options.

Author: Autumn Crosier

Self-taught disruptor, brand storyteller, and lover of all things Barbra Streisand, Autumn oversees our creative tasks and finds new ways to shake things up. As Brand Experience Director, Autumn makes sure that every project for eMedia or Clients is on-brand, edgy, and tells a story.

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