SES notes: Usability & SEO

Filed in Conferences/Educ., SEO by Matt McGee on August 17, 2006 0 Comments

SES 2006 logoWednesday, 3:15 pm – Usability & SEO

Shari Thurow of Grantastic Designs and Matt Bailey of SiteLogic were the only speakers on this panel, a new addition to the SES lineup. Both Shari and Matt explained that they’d been pitching Danny S. on the idea for this panel for a long time, and were thrilled to finally get the go-ahead to do it.

Shari spoke first, and warned us that much of her presentation was taken from a thesis she’s writing. I’ve never met Shari, but she’s obviously very, very intelligent. I think, though, that it might’ve been a mistake to develop a presentation from a PhD/Masters (can’t recall which) thesis — the material was very academic in nature, maybe too much so for my tastes. The only note I wrote was something akin to a definition of usability: “task oriented; how easy is it to complete the intended task?”

Matt Bailey spoke second, and was the yin to Shari’s yang. (Or something like that; jeez, did I really just type that? Shoot me now.) He offered a lot of real world web site examples of both good and bad usability, and he had incredible energy and enthusiasm which made the presentation as enjoyable as it was informative. The main points I wrote down from Matt’s presentation:

1.) If users can’t find it (on your site), it’s not there — and it’s your problem, not the user’s.

2.) Navigation should be focused on customer-centric, keyword-rich terms.

3.) A landing page, whether organic or PPC, must exactly match the query or you lose the searcher.

That last point above is really worth reading a second time, isn’t it? Think about that in terms of your page TITLEs. That’s what shows up in the organic SERPs — is each page TITLE on your site truly representative of that page’s content? A lot of webmasters and SEOs try to play it a little fast and loose with page TITLEs sometimes, sticking in a keyword or phrase that they want to rank for even if it doesn’t quite fit the page content. But what’s the point? If your page TITLE refers to Discount Red Widgets, but the page doesn’t offer any such discount (relative to your competition), you’ve lost the searcher.

Same thing applies to PPC ads. I remember not long ago searching for an inkjet cartridge I needed to buy, and clicking on a PPC ad whose title was an exact match for the brand and model number I had searched for. But when I reached the landing page, they were instead selling me a generic replacement for that model. Sorry – not interested in a generic replacement. You lost me at “hello.”

Good session overall, and the last I would attend due to a super-early Thursday morning flight home. (Yes, I missed the final day thanks to Priceline. Never again.) So, this post wraps up my SES session recaps….

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