SEO vs. HIO – Search Engine Optimization vs. Human Interaction Optimization or How to Help Me List You

This is a guide for webmasters for how to help people like me, who curate links, to list your site well. The basics are somewhat similar to SEO, but there are a few differences.

Who We Are

We are the people who have topic based blogs and websites about a particular field of interest. Over time, most of us will develop a following simply because others can relate or have an interest in the same topic. The longer and more we post, the more likely something will resonate with someone, and this will become a regular visitor. This is who most of us come to view as our audience in a way. These are the people whose needs and desires we’re catering to on our topic sites more than our personal sites.

Mind you, sometimes a topical site will look like a personal site and vise versa. Most people running topic sites will often showcase their personal preferences and bias. However, the difference is that on the topical site even the personal posts will usually be on topic.

With big search becoming less dependable for real answers to people’s queries, more people will be getting their information through links on topical sites. So these are the people whose attention you want to get if you don’t want your content to sit like an invisible brick.

How We Find You

We find you through our contacts and browsing other topical sites and profiles. I get a lot of the links that pique my interest and encourage me to add them on one or more of my sites from things I come across in my Mastodon timeline. So if you have a social media account, you should post often about your website. If you only have social media and don’t have your own site, you should join Linktree or a similar site where you can list all the places people can find your content. This is also useful if you have multiple sites or your content is spread over many different profiles. This gives us a central place that is about you where we can go regularly to see what you’re up to and what’s new. If you don’t want to use an external service for this, a list of links in your main menu or About page is wonderful too.

What Your Site (Or Page or Central Profile) Should Have

To make it easy for people who want to link to you to do so, you, on your front page you should have at least:

  • your site’s title
  • a title or main image OR there should be a link to an image we can use to link to you (more info on this below).

On your main page, if it’s not the front page, you should have:

  • a basic description of your site.
  • a link to your RSS or Atom feed if one is available.

You need an About page or section or a pinned post. On it should be a bit more detailed description of a paragraph or two about your site.

Basically, people should be able to copy and paste information that you provided to describe your site. People shouldn’t have to sit and think about how to describe your site unless you are purposefully filtering so that only the few and the determined should link to you. This is a legit strategy. Some people’s subject matter isn’t really taken well by the masses, and some don’t want things to be too attractive to thoughtless people or those who might have kneejerk reactions without reading thoroughly. If you are not snobbing (not judging snobbery, some people are snobs without being cruel about it) then make it easy on us.

If you don’t post an image that is ready to use and download as a banner or “ad” for your site or page, we have to either make one or make due with whatever we can harvest from your site. This need to spend time hunting for or editing an image would deter all but the most dedicated fans, and even then sometimes we have worries about copyright issues. I personally won’t download or screenshot anything that I am not sure someone wants used for promotion, either because they have used it for this themselves or it’s an obvious banner or header image. Many if not most curators would just pass, and their links to you just won’t have images. Some just won’t bother because if you don’t do enough to make it easy to promote you, it’s not clear that you want the world to see your site or page.

You can solve this need to hunt around or make our own graphic art by creating banners and putting up links to them that we don’t have to hunt for. Make a gallery or album that is title images and banners, and make sure we can see how to find it from your main or About page. Alternatively you can put them on your about or “support this site” page.

Individual Pages

Individual pages on your site, or posts that you want people to link to should have some sort of title and a description. If there is no place for a title, a sort of concise introductory sentence will do. Again you want people to be able to copy and paste, not to have to think too hard about what to say about this image or video you posted with no context.

It goes without saying that when possible, images should have alt text. If you can’t provide alt text because you’re tired or the app you’re posting through doesn’t have that option or is scrolling wrongly or something, then put some indication of what’s in the photos in the text of the post.

Good Ol’ Meta Tags

It goes without saying that your code should be sound, and you should actually use meta tags. Since some of us parse sites with software that reads this information to post links, it’s good to have it there and complete. Please give a title, author, and description at least. Keywords are nice, but this is the one thing a lot of curators prefer to do themselves. Put in at least maybe five.

If you have no control of the meta tags, that’s alright. By providing the right information on your main and about pages, we’ll be able to get the information we need.

If you do all this, then your site, post, or page will be human friendly. Of course if anyone else has other suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments.

Blessings and Ashe!


My pronouns are whatever you're comfortable with as long as you speak to me with respect. I'm an Afruikan and Iswa refugee living in Canaan. That's African American expat in Israel in Normalian. I build websites, make art, and assist people in exercising their spirituality. I'm also the king of an ile, Baalat Teva, a group of African spirituality adherents here. Feel free to contact me if you are in need of my services or just want to chat.

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