SEO and Usability – They Don’t Have to Be Enemies
For many years there have been two distinct schools of thought: SEO and usability.
Each has its own rules, regulations, and guidelines to keep it functioning as a viable part of the internet, marketing, and design.
Anyone who has dared to attempt to bridge the gap between these two different disciplines has often be rebuffed for their efforts and tossed out of both camps entirely. This is unfortunate because these people are the ones we need to be listening to over all others.
SEO and usability are coming together
SEO and usability are already working hand in hand, the trouble is that few people realize it.
The goal of SEO is to attract visitors and encourage them to visit your website by ranking well in search results. More and better SEO tends to equal higher ranking on the results listing and thus more traffic headed your way.
Usability on the other hand is all about keeping visitors on your site once they arrive. It focuses on the behaviors of your visitors and things such as their likes, dislikes, preferences and complaints. Usability then takes this information and uses it to create a website and conversion process with the ultimate goal of increasing sales and profits.
Doesn’t it seem like these things go together well? Despite being well-matched, SEO and usability are still a long way away from being as closely tied to one another as they could be. Just image what kinds of user experiences could be achieved if these two factions worked together!
Delving deeper – connecting SEO and usability in the present
Considering the future of SEO and usability is all well and good, but what about the here and now?
Let’s think of this as an assembly line with the end result being a successful conversion from user to customer.
We would begin with SEO attracting visitors to your website through the use of paid and organic search campaigns. Your site would be optimized for your brand’s target keywords and filled with relevant and informative content to attract users seeking more information on the topics you are discussing. Users might find you through alternative channels such as blogs, forums, or social networks. Make sure to cater to these users as well by creating interesting and appropriate discussions on third party sites concerning your brand.
Our next step would be to create an ideal user experience. SEO has delivered visitors to your website, now it is usability’s job to keep them there. This can be accomplished through visual and functionality optimization, i.e. having an easy to use navigational system, site map, search feature, etc. Optimizing your pages for faster load times can also increase the likelihood that users will stick around. And don’t forget the need for catering to other audiences such as the visually impaired and mobile users; it is not overly difficult to make your site accessible to these audiences, and it can really pay off in the end as major search engines like to see that you are making every effort to make your website useful and accessible.
If everything goes right, your visitors will find the information they came seeking when they arrived at your website and will proceed to convert from prospective into paying customers. This might not happen immediately (on their first visit), it could happen days or weeks in the future. You cannot let this deter you however – it is vital that you continue to work with SEO and usability together to create an optimal user experience. Trust us when we say that the major search engines can and do take note of user behavior, and the actions and satisfaction of every visitor matters!
Do you see the connection between SEO and usability? Do you think they go hand in hand, or should they be kept in separate camps? Why?