Monthly Archives: July 2008

Web usability and SEO

I was lucky enough to attend the Nielsen Norman Group’s Usability Week session on Fundamentals of Web Usability in Melbourne last week. Although the content was very US focused there were some good takeaways from the day from a SEO perspective for those of us managing Australian websites. Here are mine:

1. The first page visitors go to after search:

  • 25% home page
  • 75% visit deep links within a site

So make sure your pages deep within your site stand alone and are not dependent on visitors entering via your home page for context.

2. Links – think of them as a promise – the visitor has an expectation they are going to get something so make your link text as descriptive and meaningful as possible so they are not disappointed.

3. Search engine results pages (SERPs):

  • 52% of people will scroll SERPs
  • only 5% of people will view past the first page of SERPs
  • 31% of people do not click on any listing in a SERPs
  • 47% only visited one result on a SERP
  • 13% visited two results
  • 4% visited three results
  • 5% visited more than four results

What does this mean? You need to be the first, second or third organic result on the first page of SERPs if you want to get a visitor

4. Query strings – In 2008 people were searching

  • 1 word 20%
  • 2 words 26%
  • 3 words 20%
  • 4 words 16%
  • 5+ words 18%

So 54% of searchers are searching for 3+ words in their search strings and 80% of searchers are looking for 2+ words. Searchers are getting very specific about what they want to find. OneStat provides additional supporting evidence that most people use 2 word phrases in search engines.

5. Focus your site on the user not the organization. Searchers don’t always want to navigate the site they way you do so present them with a good site search facility. 82% of searches are covered by a 30 character search box, so make sure your site search box is at least this wide.

6. Different literacy levels – People with high literacy levels scan headlines, bolded words and links and like summaries. People with low literacy levels can’t scan so they skip. US stats (National Assessment of Adult Literacy 2003; 19,000 Americans) reveal:

  • High literacy people (graduate degree level) comprise 13% of the population
  • Mainstream (high school reading level) comprise 44%
  • Low (High school dropout) comprise 29%
  • Very low literacy comprise 14%

Australia in comparison varies approximately -2% – so does not differ that much. Know your audience – find out what their literacy levels are. Write at a level your audience can understand. Jakob Nielsen has some additional information in his Alert Box column entitled: How Little Do Users Read?

7. Tag Lines – On your home page have a tag line about who you are and what you do – helpful for your visitors and for search engine spiders.

8. Less is more. Follow the rule of twos! Put the important information first. ie

  • first two words of a headline, page title, list item link
  • first two lines of a paragraph
  • first 2 paragraphs of a page
  • first 2 search results on a SERP

are the most important.

There were no real surprises but its good to get the evidence you need to reinforce why you should be making changes to your website to enhance its usability.

PS: If you want to read more about search usability – Shari Thurow has written an article entitled Understanding Search Usability which you might find interesting.

Google Online Seminar on Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and Optimizer available

Google has made available its online seminar on how to use Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Website Optimizer, recorded on July 8 available on YouTube. It runs for just under one hour.

Google Analytics and Search Engine Optimization

Rod Jacka at Panalysis in Sydney, has just written a series of articles on how you can use Google Analytics in your search engine optimization practices to ensure you make optimum use of the title tag in your web pages.

Rod also offers a series of training workshops in Google Analytics including:

and a free white paper – Getting Results From Your Website.

Google offers 5 tips to get traffic to your web site

Matt Cutts from Google was interviewed by Jefferson Graham from USA Today the other day. Matt offered 5 suggestions for optimising your website for search engines:

1. Make sure the keywords you want to be found for are located in the visible text on the page.

2. Your title and description tags must have meaningful content

3. Get other sites to link to you

4. Create a blog and post often

5. Use Google’s free tools.

The full article as available at USA Today. It makes a good read!