Search & Usability took a deeper look at the ever-changing world of searcher behavior and how search engines have been evolving to provide the best user experience. As search engines place more emphasis on website previews in search results and take into consideration factors such as site speed, landing page quality, mobile vs desktop search experiences, social signals and beyond, this column focused heavily on balancing information architecture and human interaction. It no longer runs as a standalone column and has since been incorporated into the Content Marketing column on Marketing Land.

User-Centered Or Usage-Centered Design: Which Is Better For SEO?

When creating a search-engine friendly website, do you follow the principles of user-centered design, usage-centered design, or both?


Why Blending Usability & SEO Really Matters

Whenever the phrase, "usability and SEO", enter a conversation, there’s a very good chance it goes in one ear and out the other. Corporate management interprets it as "We need more money", and middle management fixes their poker face until they’re free to run to Google to look up the term. Though there is improvement, traditionally the term, "usability and SEO" represent two distinct countries, each with their own culture and belief systems. SEO inhabitants live, eat, breathe and play in the realm of marketing, especially in search engines. Their challenge is to monitor search al [...]


Eyetracking & SEO: Fad, Fact, Or Fiction?

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Do SEO professionals use eyetracking usability studies as a link-juice fad? Can eyetracking tests yield useful information about Web searchers?


Keys To Understanding Search Marketing & User Intent

Search engine marketers spend a large portion of their marketing strategies on keyword research. One method is to seek words and phrases that are most likely to be used by searchers to find a particular website. What may be ignored or overlooked is understanding the user intent behind these searches. It’s one effort to provide pages that come up in search results for particular words, but a very different approach when you want to understand why they are searching and what they’re looking for. An enormous number of studies and research has been done around the globe on search quer [...]


What Is The Key To Effective SEO Elevator Pitches?

Diagram of SEO merges user-centered design (UCD) and technology-centered design.

If you only had 30 seconds to explain search engine optimization (SEO) to others, how would you do it? Would your explanation be different for user experience professionals? Here’s how I explain it.


The Language Problem: Jaguars & The Turing Test

"I love Jaguars!" When I ask you to understand that sentence, I’m requiring you to take on a pretty significant undertaking, although you do it hundreds of times each day without really thinking about it. The problem comes with the ambiguity of words. "I" is pretty straightforward. I’m referring to me. Not much ambiguity there. "Love" is a little more difficult, but not much. Given the grammatical structure and syntax, we can easily reduce the possible meanings of "love" (of which there are 28, according to Dictionary.com) down to a subset that have slightly different meanings, [...]


SEO Smackdown: Information Architecture vs. Technical Architecture

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Why do SEO professionals believe that technical architecture is more important than information architecture (IA)?


Exploring A New Search Landscape, With Microsoft’s Jacquelyn Krones

In my last Just Behave column, I shared the first half of my conversation with Jacquelyn Krones, a senior product manager from Microsoft that spearheaded a large scale user study that explored how we use search. In that column, we laid the foundation for what should be a significant shift in user behaviors. Krones said one of the goals behinds the research was to understand how search fits in the context of our every day activities. More and more, we find search as a relatively inflexible connector between our intentions and our desired actions. Search has struggled to continue as a one siz [...]


Interview With Louis Rosenfeld, Author Of Search Analytics – Part 2

earch Analytics for Your Site: Conversations with Your Customers - book cover

Part 2 of a two-part interview with information architect and author Louis Rosenfeld about search analytics that can (and should) be used for optimizing your website.


Does This Website Usability Fairy Tale Have A Happy Ending?

Whenever I’m asked what usability is, I get tongue tied. "It’s about humans and computers," I may say, but they’ll picture robots and talking cars. "I help make web sites that work," is closer, but vague because technically, if it’s on the Internet, it’s working. Then I’ll hear myself try to make it clearer by bringing up the "abilities", such as credibility, understandability, accessibility and findability. Of them, the most nods vote for understandability. It’s in our nature that we all want to be understood. We each want that something that fits us just right. We all [...]


Exploring The Shift In Search Behaviors With Microsoft’s Jacquelyn Krones

[caption id="attachment_85751" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Jacquelyn Krones (Photo: Annie Laurie Malarkey)"][/caption] I first met Jacquelyn Krones, a Senior Product Manager from Microsoft, at a search show. A mutual friend on the Bing team, Product Manager Stefan Weitz, introduced her to me and said, "You have to meet Jacquelyn. You speak the same language." Stefan was right. Jacquelyn started talking about the research project she was then actively engaged in. She explained about the ethnographic approach Microsoft was taking to understanding search behavior in a broader co [...]


Interview With Louis Rosenfeld, Author Of Search Analytics

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Interview with information architect and author Louis Rosenfeld about search analytics that can (and should) be used for optimizing your website.


6 Commonly Ignored Website Requirements & 10 Tips To Remember

The leading cause for website or software application failure is not having a requirements document prepared and shared with everyone attached to the project. Typically, business and functional specifications, along with possible web design guidelines are gathered. What do most requirements documents miss? The purpose of a formal requirements document is to be sure that everything that appears on the website or application is supposed to be there. In cases such as ecommerce or application driven sites, there’s a better chance that managers from several departments, plus content writ [...]


Understanding The Human Part Of The User Experience

In 1997, a computer called Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Headlines triumphed about the victory of machine over man,  as we humans were "conquered", "vanquished" and, as a result of our defeat, "stunned." Checkmate...Finally! [caption id="attachment_82078" align="alignright" width="320" caption="Kasparov and Deep Blue"][/caption] The real question isn’t why we finally were defeated by a chess playing computer, but why it took so long. Chess is a game that computers should excel at. The whole point of the game is analyzing possible moves and picking the one that [...]


How To Use Personas & Scenarios In SEO

Keyword research tools are great, but they do not provide enough context for understanding searcher behaviors. Usability test scenarios can help SEO professionals better understand their target audience.


Social Media Is Still A Mystery To Many Businesses

It is no surprise that the high-level Social Media search traffic is focused on advertising and marketing needs. With a combination of a little over three million searches a month, the Marketing/Advertising search traffic is overshadowed by the ten million informational searches that sometimes ask questions, but are mostly vague in nature. This analysis of AdWords data suggests that business people are really still trying to learn and sort out what Social Media is all about. But when you look specifically at user intent, you can plainly see what aspects are important to them. Consider the [...]


5 Website Tips To Decrease User Frustration

If you ever need a topic to discuss at a social gathering, just ask everyone, "What do you find the most frustrating about using websites?" There are so many common complaints and issues raised by everyday Internet users and yet so many websites are still driving us crazy. Websites contain oversights. It happens to even the most esteemed companies and organizations who have an online presence. It happens to small businesses with small staffs and brand new websites. It happens by professional web developers and those still learning. Typically, navigation is the area where most end user [...]


Why Results Quality Is So Important to Search Engines

Every single search engine has, at the heart of it, a dynamic tension that must be respected. It needs to balance user experience with revenue opportunities. Getting this balance right is incredibly difficult, as Ask, Yahoo and other engines that have seen their market shares precipitously fall can attest to. There was a time when Yahoo (and MSN, in a previous incarnation) used to routinely show 4, 5 or even more results in the critical "North" ad position (top of page, above organic results). As these engines boosted revenue (because showing more ads will almost always boost revenue) they [...]


How To Use Effective Navigation Labels for Search Engine Optimization

Is your website’s URL structure based on the perceived logic of your boss’ teenage son? Or even worse, a software engineer? Search-engine friendly labeling systems are critical for long-term search engine visibility.


Keyword Insights: How Office Furniture Vendors Can Target Start-Ups

It's a great time to start a company. Incubator labs are springing up all over the place, sponsored by venture capitalists and universities. Universities are teaching entrepreneurial skill, and have programs to sponsor student startups. Massive layoffs over the past two years have forced new college graduates, and experienced former employees to strike out on their own. The emergence of social media and mobile platforms are providing thousands of start-up opportunities, and you can see them showcased at "network and launch" events such as the Web Innovators Group and Mass Innovation Nights. [...]


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