Search Engine Optimization and Web Site Usability

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18 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 9 μήνες)

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Search Engine Optimization and Web Site Usability

By Kristy Meghreblian

Build a Web site and the people will come.
Ha! If it were only that easy! The Web is the one sales environment where the customer
has total empowerment. They have all the resources (i.e., your competitors) just a mouse-
click away.
Not only are you in competition with the millions of other Web sites owners who sell the
same product/service as you, but you are also competing for users' time and attention.
While search engine optimization and submission can bring you the traffic you need, only
you can ensure that visitors will stay on your site by giving them a reason to want to stay.
That is where Web site usability comes in.
What is Web site usability?
The International Standards Organization (ISO) defines Web site usability as the
"effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which a specified set of users can achieve
a specified set of tasks in a particular environment." In simpler terms, usability is how
efficiently and effectively users can accomplish what they are trying to do when they visit
your Web site.
Now that you have an understanding of usability, we'll explain the basics of what a Web
site should include to make the most of the user experience:
Content is king
Let's face it, people visit Web sites for content -- they want information. Sure, it helps if
your site is visibly appealing as well. But, without the right content, the results of the user
experience can be fatal to your business. They simply won't come back.
Here are a few tips to remember in regards to content:
1. Be concise. Research shows that reading from a computer screen is about 25% slower
than reading from paper or other print medium. To that end, you will want to edit your
writing to say the exact same thing in half the words it would take if you were writing on
paper. Also, think back to the last time you came to one of those really long-winded Web
sites where the content may have been great, but you still had to scroll and scroll and
scroll to get to the end. It can be a nuisance. So, keep your pages short.
2. Make your content scannable. When people use the Internet, they are looking at mass
amounts of information. Help them get to the core of what they want by using bulleted
items, short paragraphs, and subheadings to make it easier for them to find what they are
looking for.
3. Write without error. There is no excuse -- absolutely none -- for poor grammar,
typographical errors, and misspellings. If you own a computer, you have access to spell-
checking and grammar-checking technologies. Use them. These small details will reflect
upon your site. If you don't convey professionalism on your own business, how will you
be conveyed to potential clients? Can they trust you with theirs? Before uploading any
new content, proofread it. Then, turn it over to someone else for their input.
4. Write as if you were a Public Relations pro. Granted, many of us aren't PR exec's, but
you should know how to market your business. Use the lingo that is most appropriate for
your business. While you want to provide information, your main goal is still one thing:
to sell. So, write to sell.
5. Maximize your keywords. As part of the search engine optimization process, you went
to great lengths to select keywords and phrases that are most appropriate for your
business. Be sure to use them whenever possible (without being overtly redundant) in
your content.
6. Refresh, refresh, refresh. Web sites should be updated on a regular basis -- don't let
them go stale. Add new products/services, update users with new information and tools,
do what you can to change your content and keep users coming back for more.
7. Know your audience. Since most audiences vary in terms of experience level with both
your product/service and their experience level with the internet, you will want to
simplify things more than ever. You don't want to talk to yourself - make sure potential
clients understand your product/service. The best way to do this is to create content that is
informative, yet easy to understand for even the newest of the newbies.
Web site design
Secondary to content is the actual design of your Web site. While the user comes to your
site specifically for information, they also will want to enter an area that is easy to use
and visually appealing. Here are some usability tips regarding Web site design:
1. Avoid long load times. While the latest technology for Web sites is incredibly
interesting and fun, lots of graphics, Flash images, and audio can create long load times
that make the user wait. And, if customers have to wait too long, they may leave -- and
never come back. As a guide, users will generally wait for a site to load for ten seconds
before vacating.
2. Make your pages easy to read. A common error in Web usability is the incessant need
to create the prettiest Web site that ever existed. We've all seen them - every color from
the Crayola box of 64 has made its mark on these pages. And, with a little bit of color
usually comes a lot of cute little images that dance across your screen. In all seriousness,
resist the urge to do this. Not only will it hoard a lot of memory, but it will drive your
users crazy. Black text on a white background is the easiest to read. If you really want a
colored background, stick with a lighter shade, but remember to use black text.
3. Create a well-organized site. Maintaining a consistent look and feel throughout your
site is critical. The navigation you use on the home page should be carried out throughout
your Web site. Clear navigation can either make or break your site. You are basically
providing your users with a road map to your products and services. Don't let them get
lost along the way.
4. Consider your space. Content should amount to 50-80% of your page design, with
navigation taking up approximately 20% of the space.
5. Stay consistent with design elements. Select one or two (maximum) fonts and stick
with them throughout your site.
6. Have a secure and automated server. Amazingly only 20% of current Web sites are
secure.
7. What can you do different? This is probably the most important thing to remember
when designing your site. Think about your business and your competition. What are you
doing differently that will make users visit your site? Once you find out what that is --
whether you offer the lowest prices, have a special widget that no one else sells, or have
reputable customer service -- capitalize on that one thing by incorporating it in your
design elements.
Conclusion
There are good sites on the Internet and there are an equal number of bad sites (if not
more!) out there. The good sites provide for a smooth user experience - easy navigation
and easy-to-find information. The bad sites are slow to load, difficult to navigate and
leave the users frustrated before they can even get to the information they initially
needed. If you've already invested the time and effort into developing a Web site, you
should take a serious look at the usability of your site. Here's an easy homework
assignment: Some day, when you've got a few hours to spare, surf the Internet and make
note of sites you think are good and which ones drove you absolutely crazy. Investigate
the qualities of those sites and what made them good or bad. Pretty soon, you'll start to
see some patterns that you can learn from and implement into your own usability
strategy. Remember, usability is all about creating a unique and enlightening user
experience. Usability is the name of the game -- isn't it time you started playing?
About the Author
As Submit Today’s copywriter and editor, Kristy Meghreblian has written online content
for many successful companies, including Monster.com. She has successfully combined
her excellence in journalism with the delicate art of keyword density as it relates to
search engine optimization. As a result, she has helped many Submit Today clients
achieve top ranking. Submit Today (
http://www.SubmitToday.com
) is a leading search
engine optimization, submission and ranking company located in Naples, Florida.
kristy@submittoday.com