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.

Using Social Awareness Streams To Learn What People Care About

It wasn’t long ago that knowledge about our world came from newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, and of course, person to person gossip, storytelling and family gatherings. The Internet changed all that. Today, a person wanting to know the latest buzz studies social awareness streams (SAS). In the Just Behave column, we’ve discussed information architecture as it is used for search engine marketing and usability. One of the points mentioned concerns the gathering of terms and words that are used for taxonomies, link labels, category setup, navigation labels and content development. [...]

Five Visionaries Sum Up The Future Of Search: Part II

future-next-exit-featured Over the past several months, I’ve been trying to crystal ball what the future of search might look like. I’ve had fascinating discussions with several visionaries in the industry, including Stefan Weitz (Microsoft), Shashi Seth (Yahoo), Hampus Jakobsson (RIM) and John Battelle (Federated Media). In my last column, I started to sum up the overarching themes that emerged from these conversations. Today, I wanted to wrap up the journey I started almost a year and a half ago. Searching From Different Devices One of the biggest catalysts of change in search has been the adoption of differ [...]

Calling All Information Architects! Get With The SEO Program

All web pages should contain both parent-child and sibling-sibling links to show relationships among content.

Many SEO professionals try to understand information architecture (IA). Do information architects try to understand SEO? Here are some of my beefs with information architects.

Spring Search Fever: How Users Look Up Garden Center Products & Services

gardening-featured It's spring, and garden centers everywhere are getting ready to service the needs of home gardeners and small landscaping services. Garden center search traffic is similar to Christmas retail search traffic in that the majority of the searches occur during three or four months of the year, peaking in June and falling off dramatically for the rest of the year. With such a short window of opportunity, what is the best way to exploit this traffic? The answer: understand how consumers search for your products and services. Almost everybody gardens in one way or another. They may simply be bu [...]

Usability & Internet Search Marketing: A More Unified Approach

For years there were two camps – website usability and search engine optimization. Rarely did they acknowledge each other, let alone work as a team. Each side argued they knew best how to make web pages findable in search engines. They’re both right. The website usability house is focused on human behavior. They follow along as people, or "users" as they’re referred to, use websites. User experience and user interface design offers challenges because our needs constantly change as we adapt to living and using the Internet to get information. Search engines want user interacti [...]

Five Visionaries Sum Up The Future Of Search

future-next-exit-featured For the past several months in this column, I’ve been asking a number of people the same question: Where will search go from here? For the next two columns, I wanted to sum up what came out of those conversations and find the common themes. A Shift In Our Expectations Of Success A number of people talked about a sea change in our expectations of what search should be. The basic paradigm of web search hasn’t changed very much in almost 20 years: one query box and an ordered list of results. If you held a search result screenshot from 1996 alongside a result from today, you woul [...]

3 SEO Myths About Information Architecture

PageRank sculpting, siloing, link-juice flowage, SEO architecture — all are keyword phrases that make my skin crawl. What do search optimizers need to know about information architecture? Learn from real information architects.

How Potential Clients Search For An Interactive Agency

The search behavior associated with businesses trying to find an interactive agency is very different from other models that I've looked at in the past. Generally, informational searches dominate search behavior. In this case, informational searches are very small compared to the number of types that businesses specify when looking for an interactive agency. The type category is fairly complex with 13 sub-categories, which is the most I've ever seen in single high-level category. It’s interesting that businesses describe the type of agency they are looking for in about a dozen different [...]

Google’s Farmer Update Plants User Behavior Seeds

Over the last 10 days, the world of Internet search has swarmed around any source for news on Google’s "Farmer" algorithm change that affected nearly 12% of USA search results. Any company generating its revenue by producing low quality content rushed to wrestle up new rank and ad revenue data and discuss the damage. As Aaron Wall pointed out, not every "content farm" got the ax. As Wall discovered, it seems illogical that would come away relatively unscathed while similar sites based on the how-to articles model tanked. Websites that Google continues to cuddle include Faceb [...]

Interview With Hampus Jakobbson Part II: Plugging Into The Grid

In part one of my interview with Hampus Jakobbson, TAT Co-Founder and now Strategic Alliances EMEA at Research in Motion, we talked about user experiences designed for Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. As we continued to chat, we went into some fascinating territory that is literally right out of science fiction. TAT (short for The Astonishing Tribe) designed user experiences for new interactive screen technologies. One of the many fascinating topics we discussed was this idea of personal and public screens and how they may interact together. Jakobbson talked about how our notion o [...]

Why SEO Needs Its Own Reputation Management

A few weeks ago, I saw a reference to search engine optimization (SEO) on the TV Show The Good Wife that made me fall off of my chair. (See SEO Gets Dissed by CBS TV Series "The Good Wife" for the transcript.) I fell off of my chair for two reasons: (1) I certainly did not expect a reference to search engine optimization during a prime-time television show, and (2) I did not expect the reference to SEO to be a negative one. Aren’t we past the whole "snake-oil" thing already? Alas, I wish we were. I certainly do not like to be characterized as a snake-oil SEO practitioner when I, and [...]

Insights For SEM Service Providers: SEO vs. Search Engine Optimization Queries

Is typing in "SEO" the same as typing in "search engine optimization"? Not according to the data in AdWords. The queries in the search engine optimization data set are quite different than the data in the SEO data set. This was a bit of a surprise even to me. It turns out that there is much more variable traffic in the search engine optimization data by a 4-to-1 margin over an SEO search. Search engine optimization: 125 million monthly searches. SEO: 30 million monthly searches. The Search Engine Optimization group has 25 categories of behavior. The SEO group has three fewer search [...]

User Considerations For Web Design And Online Marketing

The most difficult group entity we design for, engage with and market to is commonly referred to as "users". Some of you know members of this group as people. A few use the term without thinking it through. The term "users" has an official formal name in some industries, which to be honest, only serves to complicate matters. I think the term "user" is often quietly defined as "they who are out there".  Like we’re all colorful globs of Jello. Do we like being called users? This question is asked often and yes, opinions vary. What fascinates me isn’t our feelings about the word "user" [...]

Interview With TAT’s Hampus Jakobsson On Digital Natives & Digital Immigrants

For my past several columns, I’ve presented a number of interviews exploring where search might go in the future. Through that process, I ran across an interesting video from a company based in Sweden called TAT*, short for The Astonishing Tribe. The "Tribe" helps create unique user experiences that keep up with the rapidly evolving frontier of screen technologies. I reached out and made contact with Hampus Jakobsson, TAT Co-Founder and now Strategic Alliances EMEA at Research in Motion. Hampus and I spent about 40 freewheeling minutes on the phone and in those 40 minutes, we covered a lo [...]

Findability, SEO, And The Searcher Experience

Do you know the key components of a positive searcher experience? Usability and findability are crucial…but there are other critical elements.

How To Model Search Term Data To Classify User Intent & Match Query Expectations

Query data is the first tool in every search marketers arsenal - it serves as a launch pad for developing information architecture, understanding market opportunity to creating landing pages with carefully worded ad copy to maximize conversions. To fully understand query data in any market segment, it is extremely valuable to understand and creating a model of search behavior. A search behavior model is a data-driven process for classifying user intent for each search query to a specific source, type or subject. It’s a reflection of the total consumer search experience for products [...]

How Human Factors May Affect Information Indexing And Retrieval

If you were to ask a search engine marketer what their main goal is for their type of work, they may tell you, "We want our clients’ web site to come up first in search results." To make their days more challenging, they may monitor popular keywords, create landing pages which are tightly focused on one topic, and study search patterns to see where they can make changes to their internet marketing strategies. When you ask a user experience web designer what their prime objective might be, they may explain they want their web pages to convert inbound traffic (likely from search engines) [...]

Where Is Search Going: More With Yahoo’s Shashi Seth

In part one of my interview with Shashi Seth, the Senior VP of Search Products at Yahoo, we looked at what Yahoo’s current thinking is about search since the Yahoo/Bing integration. But the point of this series of columns is not where search is, but where search is going. And that’s where we’ll jump off today. Soon, my conversation with Shashi steered into the area of how search might morph as more searches are done from platforms other than the typical desktop box environment. Obviously, mobile search is a hot topic, but I personally have been amazed at how my connected experience ha [...]

Keywords, Text Links & Navigation Design

What is the best approach to utilizing keywords in site navigation? Balance is the key to successful keyword placement in a search-engine friendly website.

Decoding Searcher Intent: Is “MS” Microsoft Or Multiple Sclerosis?

Consumers conduct about 90 million multiple sclerosis related searches each month. They spell out the words, but also use the acronym MS 508K times a month. MS is an ambiguous acronym, and has many meanings depending upon who is using it in a query. Currently there are over 200 definitions for MS in the marketplace, but the most common meanings are: Multiple sclerosis Microsoft Mississippi Morgan Stanley Masters of science degree MySpace This is something to think about because it reflects how people and search engines process information differently. People can see "MS" i [...]

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