Usability & SEO: Two Wins For The Price Of One

Dec 6, 2006 - 6:01 pm 0 by
Filed Under SES Chicago 2006

Measuring & Converting Track

Usability & SEO: Two Wins For The Price Of One

Build a user-friendly site and chances are you've also built a search engine friendly site. Learn how good usability can help your human visitors plus bring in the search traffic.

Moderator: Alex Bennert, Director of Client Services, Beyond Ink - scheduled but not here

Speakers: Shari Thurow, Webmaster/Marketing Director, Matthew Bailey, President, Site Logic Marketing

Gord Hotchkiss moderates. In early days seo and usability were at war. SE's are smarter and marketers are smarter. Whats right for SE's is right for users as well. Introduces Shari, as a "guru of usability" Shari is wearing the princess hat, it looks like, that Liana Evans had in her pile of Hatbait hats.

ST= Shari Thurow MB = Matt Bailey

If you do it for the users, its good for the engines. Goals are search usability overview, components of search usability and a case study. Search usability vs web sites usability. Myths and misconceptions. User confidence. Website usability. She's a big of Jakob Nielsen. A quality attributes that accesses how easy user interfaces or web pages are to use. Website usability is not about a focus group. Focus measures peoples opinions. There's a group mentality and they'll say things they don't want really believe. Assign a task instead. Do they complete the task. Web site usability is a balance between user goals and business goals. Addresses all search behaviors, not only querying behavior. Your website has to meet business goals but you have to make people happy too. Search usability addresses all types of search behaviors. Querying, browsing, surfing, foraging, scanning, reading, berrypicking, pogo sticking,...these are search behaviors. Not a linear process.

Search usab. scent of info, sense of place, user confidence...scent is textual and graphical cues that people use to decide what path is interesting or desirable. SE's use term highlighting is to help users feel confident. They highlight from meta descriptions, title tags. Its not part of the algorithm. It's a usability aid. Relevancy and encourging clicks to your site are how website usability serves engines. Where are you, what are you viewing, whose site are you visiting, are parts of an 8-second test she uses for a page to test for good usability. She found peoples eyes go to the center of the page, not the top. How do you get back and where have you been are other things to test a page for. Embedded text links are related keywords in the content. Does a page appear keyword focused.

Information archit. always should come first. Do keyword research and categorizaton of info. People are looking for information. Site nav is part of the user interface. It should contain keywords that people use when searching. Does a page provide a sense of place without the content? Look at the navigation, headings, highlighted link labels. She shows second and third level groupings of information. She tested for sense of place. Get rid of navigation and ask what page are you viewing? The navigation scheme should support the information architecture.

Interface. Every site should have horizontal and vertical cross linking. Page layout is important. Cross linking is internal. Link development is external. Breadcrumb links are vertical links (hierarchial). Provide you are here cues. Make links keyword focused. Help visitors form a mental model of your web site. Don't remove underlines in links. It communicates it is a link. Horizontal cross links are embedded text links. Related links to news, articles, etc. Alphabetical links (the abcdefg, etc). They provide access and are appropriate for glossaries. Alternate links. Sitemap should part of global sitemap. When you create one, describe to visitors what these links are for. Put keywords on there. URL structure is important. Hypens are better than underscore. Characters are problems. Urls with words are easy to remember, rather than the ones that are dynamically generated. Directories vs subdomains. Both are SE friendly. URLS are part of the interface.

"Web site usability is extremely important for receiving high quality link development (popularity)."


The perception is that usability and seo don't get along. We both want people to find our site and do what we want them to do. If they can't find it, it doesn't exist. If the user can't find it, its not there. If not in the SE's, its not there. Usability homepage should have clear directions. SEO makes homepage links out to the rest of the site. Keyword focused navigation. Use keywords for how to name categories, name products, help users find your stuff. People should see a reason to stay on your site and get their question answered. Shows a site with two choice - shop now or enter my site. Everybody laughs. This creates fear in the user mind. Things they'll go to the wrong place. If you click go to shop, you get directions on how to shop and review policies before you buy. Shows a slide on Fish ' Flush, toilet aquarium. Its one big image. No content. Won't rank well in SE's. Some sites focus on one specific product on the homepage, even if they sell a lot of them. What do your users look for? Whats important to them? You want to match their expectation. If you have Adsense on your site, you business model confused. Why display your competiters sites? Shows a site that sells wine racks but the right column is adsense. The navigation links can't be seen due to poor colors. He shows the Cingular site because it is focused on what its customers are looking for. It has a section for existing customers and new customers. It doesn't rely on the main navigation as sole way to get around the website. Shows a wine site with lots of links that are very descriptive, offer ideas on how to better find you are looking for. SEO offers multiple cat links w/ keywords. Usab. shows established heirarchy of categories. You want to do customer based navigation.Know what they're looking for. Text size is not an SEO concern but is vital for people, like if you have a senior market. SEO is the alt att's. Don't try to stuff product categories on one page. It dilutes the page. User will think what they want isn't there.

Shows a page with lot of different fonts and various images in unorganized layout. Distractions. Page full of noise. Shows a product page that forces user to use back button or back level link to start all over for a new search. Not easy to find sub categories. You can expose more products by organized groupings. Product pages. Call products what they are. No fancy names. Offer information about products. Specs don';t sell products, benefits sell products. Show how to meet or create a need. Then fill it. Use keywords when you write this content. This is the SEO side of usability. Use problem solver keywords. Help them solve problems. What did I help you overcome. Ask your users how you helped them. Do not send PPC people to your homepage. Go to the page for product you are trying to sell. Users will stay and follow.

Shows a page for Boudreaux's Butt Paste. Its really a page for diaper rash. It's optimized for butt paste. You have to call the product what it is. Not just the brand. Shows a page of USB Sushi. What is being sold, usb or sushi? Repetition will cause people to overlook. Get into your analytics. Drill down and separate keyword groups. Find conversion rate for each group. How did they find you and what are looking for. People use different terms to look for the same thing. International sales, don't get lot in the translation. Add address and shipping.

(Even after Matt left, people were still laughing at his slides.)


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