Friday, March 03, 2006

Usability - SEO's Best Friend

Consider the following:
Here you are, just finished optimizing an E-Commerce site. You followed all the rules, did the research and everything fits perfectly. 2 months later the client calls and complains "We haven't sold a thing!".

Well, your first inclination is to look at all your report data and figure out what's going on. People are getting to the site, but no one's staying for more than a minute. After you've conducted your "investigation" you determine that you did nothing wrong....right?

Well, take a look at the site, break out your credit card and attempt to make a purchase....one minute later you instinctively go to another site and forget all about it. But wait!! What just happened? You go back to your client's site and see firsthand that you couldn't figure out where to go, how to select products, how to browse categories or even make a purchase. In short, the site was so unusable that you simply wouldn't waste your time with it and went elsewhere.

This may seem like the worst case scenario, and i'm sure that a lot of other factors apply in the real world, but it's still all too common nowadays.

Imagine having a Food Store in a stripmall with great parking a big huge glowing sign, even a guy that opens the door for customers and greets them in a fancy british accent. Sounds like THE place in town to go shopping for food right? Let's imagine you put a labyrinth inside the store where customers have to find their way around to get the items they need - i.e. you won't sell much anytime soon.

Usability testing should be a vital part for any SEO campaign. In fact i consider it important enough to be second in line after determining if Blackhat SEO practices are present. (given a usual client analysis)

What it boils down to is that better usability translates to better conversions. Making it easy for consumers to purchase what they want or get the information they need just makes sense.


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