Usability in the Search Marketing World

By Chris Kanellakes, Paid Advertising Supervisor

With the development of the World Wide Web and the wonderful world of search marketing, human-computer interaction—usability—has become more important to marketing than ever. Concerns about usability have always played a role in software design and development; but with the explosion of search marketing, usability must now be viewed in a new light.

What is Usability?

According to Wikipedia, the concept of usability “denotes the ease with which people can employ a particular tool or other human-made object in order to achieve a particular goal.” Usability is good design. But good design does not always have the user’s best interest in mind.

What constitutes “usability” in the world of search marketing? Let’s start with a clear definition of search marketing: the Web-based promotion of a Web site by increasing its visibility and attractiveness to users.

Web developers employ principles of usable interactive design to assist in the information architecture and page layout. In the search marketing world, search engines employ structured algorithms to deliver content that can most relevantly improve the user’s experience. Google uses a quality score in its sponsored search platform to provide the user with the best possible experience when he or she clicks on an ad.

The Disconnect

On the surface, there does not appear to be any disconnect between the two contexts of usability. But let’s take a deeper look. The goals of Web developers are often dictated by such usability research as surveys, focus groups, interviews, or other stakeholder feedback. The overarching goal is to better understand the user’s needs and develop a site that will meet those needs.

Now consider how search marketing incorporates usability. For the most part, it is all about creating a beneficial user experience by providing content relevant to the searcher’s needs. However, it must also meet the needs of the virtual user known as a search engine. Search engines calculate content relevancy regardless of whether a listing is paid or natural. These algorithms are used to index information so that, when queried, they deliver the information most relevant to the user.

The Solution

Thus, achieving usability includes an extra dimension for the search marketer, who must now take into account the virtual user that we call a search engine. If we could only use the methods of the traditional usability researcher—interviews, surveys, and the like—to better understand search engines, we might be able to provide Web developers with not only functional requirements but also search-engine-friendly requirements. As things stand, the latter are too often omitted from the specs of traditional Web design.

Can we deliberately make our Web sites more user-friendly for search engines? Yes. Although we cannot resort to traditional methods, search marketers can indeed provide insight into what the search engines are looking for, and incorporate this information into the usability research and requirements submitted to the Web developers.


search engine friendly web development said...

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