We Are All Relatives. Even You, the Search Engine Marketing Professional

Oct 7, 2005 - 2:50 pm 2 by
Filed Under Usability

Loyal fans of SERoundtable are aware that topics branch off into fields related to search engines, SEO forums, search engine optimization and marketing. You can see what Barry and his guest authors cover by viewing the Categories on this page, where blog posts are conveniently categorized. There’s a good reason for the broad scope.

While working as an SEO in the middle 1990’s, it wasn’t until I started testing web-based applications that I realized people trying to use web sites were pulling their hair out trying to. Add to that clients raving about great rank, but puzzled why their investment in SEO wasn’t resulting in sales despite increased traffic. I became interested in learning more about this.

Enter usability, or really, what’s known as human factors. If you feel that people matter more than bots, things suddenly, get interesting. There’s cause for more discussion than just how to link and where to stick keywords. Somebody wants to do something after finding the page or after clicking a link.

They want to understand what you want them to understand, and you have to understand how to guide them.

Take a gander at Rand Fishkin’s new Search Engine Ranking Factors article that’s getting kudos around the SEO/SEM industry. Did you know that of the contributors, one is a well-known usability and SEO writer? Two others offer web site usability reviews along with their services and another has leaked usability topics into his worldwide search engine conferences. One of them is an SEO who incorporates user centered design techniques in his work, and one of them has begun directing attention to accessibility along with search engine marketing.

Rand includes a section of the chart called “Detrimental Ranking Factors”. As I scanned it, I kept muttering, “Yeah, people hate that.” Next. “Yep, people hate that too.” The “Unethical Practices” point translates into “Credibility and Authenticity Issues” for people.

The other day I was explaining something to my son because he was curious at a news item about the fight to teach “Intelligent Design” (aka religious-based theory of creation) in US schools, along with or in place of evolutionism. He wondered at the fuss. I told him that there are many beliefs on how we got here, and that there’s ongoing debate about which one is the “right” way. To the Iroquois Tribe in America, the earth was created on the back of a Turtle (who still holds it up to this day.) He’s 11 years old and thought this was very cool.

Nevertheless, you can see how it is. The SEO/SEM and the Usability-related industries have historically argued best practices and touted the most “correct”, “right-way”, effective techniques to use or avoid. In the pile of wrestlers tangled on the forums/blogs floor (in those sexy tight things they wear), one wonders why so much effort goes into deciding who is right.

Because, even in the best-case scenario, where the design and marketing are in perfect union, the web site sparkles and every possible algorithm is courted and massaged, there will always be people who have an unmet need.

This is something search engines figured out long ago. It’s why every web site needs you, the SEO/SEM practitioner and why that site needs someone to consider the human factors side of things. Search engines appreciate web sites that meet the needs of the People, first, because it means more people will use their service.

We are all relatives.


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