You may wonder where search engine optimisation comes into the usability subject, as it mainly relates to how easy your site is for users to navigate. For this reason we have to remember that SEO is simply a part of search engine marketing and SEM involves making a site profitable as well as visible to search engines.
Unfortunately there is not much in the way of software to help us deal with this problem, for example if your navigation menu falls ‘below the fold’ on a particular page, this is not going to be traceable through most web software.
It is always important to manually check for usability problems as part of the optimisation process, however there are some things software will do for you and I’d like to concentrate on them today.
Some of the aspects site software can assist with are:-
- Broken redirects/links
- Broken Inclusions
- Missing ALT attributes
- Slow and Deep pages
- Missing Images
(There may be more, but these are definitely the main ones for our SEO purposes)
Links and Redirects
By now you should know that these make up the main visibility options when dealing with search engine optimisation however they also add a very serious usability problem. Unlike a search spider, a human visitor will most likely leave your page if they encounter broken links and redirects, simply returning to the serps and visiting your competitor.
When these developers build the pages it is common for them to check the pages simultaneously in a browser. The main problem here involves the maintenance of the site. Moving, adding, changing or removing pages can render many inclusions ‘broken’. This has little to do with search engine optimisation but when a human visitor comes to the site, if inclusions are broken, the site will look unprofessional and the user is likely to leave.
These attributes are strongly related to optimising for search engine spiders however they do have usability effects as well. For instance a human user may have images switched off and the ALT attribute will assist in describing the site. Also some users may have disabilities and the image tag will usually be announced out loud.
The main reasons for the ALT attribute will always be for those text hungry spiders.
This is pretty self explanatory, a slow page is one that takes a long time to open. This can be for many reasons but the mains ones are, huge textual content, too many images, external scripts or unusually large files linked to the page.
When the amount of information becomes so large that it delays the page opening users can become irritated and simply move on. (Never seems to have this effect on Facebook though) : )
Again a fairly simple concept which is more concerned with usability rather than site visibility. A deep page is one that is 4 or more pages from the initial landing page or home page. Most visitors will not have the patience to dig deep into your sites content and many will want access to what they need from the home page. A good rule is to keep all pages within 3 links of the home page, I personally prefer 2.
These are really irritating for the user, yet have little effect with regards to search engine optimisation. It mainly happens due to a faulty or careless design and sometimes upon reorganisation of site structure. Either way it makes the site feel unprofessional and will deter many human visitors.
This post had very little to do with search engine optimisation however if you are wanting the most profitable results for your site this is something you will need to be on top of and makes up a significant portion of the search marketing formula.Line Break
Author: Tim (294 Articles)
Tim Grice is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 7 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Head of Search at Branded3, an SEO agency in Leeds.