Crawling Bots Cannot Replace the User Experience

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Crawling Bots Cannot Replace the User Experience

Innovations in technology have allowed SEOs to become far more efficient at their jobs, particularly in regards to site crawlers such as DeepCrawl or ScreamingFrog. Today, these crawlers are essential tools in SEO, and do a phenomenal job at pointing out technical issues. Those issues could include anything from broken links to invalid canonical tags. These tools are becoming the “go to” for technical performance analysis, since they allow SEOs to spend less time inspecting websites in browsers or site analytics. While these tools certainly speed up a few aspects of an SEOs work load, they are bots at the end of the day. They can analyze code all day, but they cannot help consumers.
 
These days, search engines are advancing at an incredibly speedy rate. This is mostly due to machine learning, which allows search engines to not only provide the most relevant results, but also deliver a better user experience. However, now that site crawlers are becoming the norm for website analysis, user experience is falling by the wayside. Especially now, considering that consumers are beginning to interact with the web more on their mobile devices than on desktop. Crawlers are catching up with mobile, but they still mostly focus on desktop analysis. This is of mild concern, as this presents untapped opportunities for performance improvement.
 
Consumers drive the overall search experience, so a consumer-first approach is crucial in order to succeed in search results. For this to happen, SEOs must manually interact with websites and site analytics, as opposed to simply relying on bot crawlers. One must consider if the consumer experience is optimized across both desktop and mobile, and if the content is optimized for both as well. Crawling a website as a bot will never replace the experience of interacting with a website as a consumer. Both must be considered, and neither should be neglected.
 
Site crawlers have made the lives of SEOs everywhere significantly more manageable. However, just because they are more manageable does not mean we can ignore the consumer experience. As SEOs, we must put ourselves in the position of the consumer, and consider the overall experience from their perspective. This way, we can identify annoying user experience issues that bots would miss otherwise. If we experience the website as a consumer would, we remain informed during each stage of the process and can use that information to bring more users to the site, and ultimately drive conversions.

Scott Freeman
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