Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

The Link Between SEO and Usability

The recent changes in the SEO industry have caused me to ponder over the state of the index and where Google might be moving to in the near future, in terms of factors for ranking sites. We had the new search wiki and personalised results, then the branding evidence reared it’s ugly head, then to top it all off we had the recent nofollow advice.

At one point it was easy to optimise a site; stuff the meta tags and generate thousands of pages of keyword rich content. Then as time progressed links began to feature more, link popularity being the dominant factor. Now there are so many Google Ranking factors SEO is becoming a complex industry of research and chance, to some degree.

The landscape of SEO changes so frequently that if your not on the ball, you will be caught wondering what happened to your rankings. That is what makes the SEO game such a buzz, the fact your always sprinting to stay ahead of the game, those who like certainty should stay as far away from SEO as possible.

As an SEO you sometimes have to pre-empt the direction Google is moving in and what principles you can apply to gain a significant advantage over the crowd, this is what has been on my mind recently.

Over at SEOmoz Rand has publish an excellent post on link consolidation , I don’t fully buy into the principle but I can certainly see how it would work.

Rand basically suggests consolidating pages of your site, such as privacy, terms of use and legal, onto one page, therefore you only need to link to it once from your homepage. This helps to preserve PageRank so you can pass it to more important/useful pages, but who is it useful for?? Surely a user would find having separate pages for separate categories more useful than having them all stuffed together?? I don’t know, maybe it’s no that big a deal.

My point is, how do we implement SEO in a way that is better for the user? This is what Google wants after all, to build a great resource that enhances the user experience.

So what usability factors might Google look at that enhance the user experience and  SEO at the same time?

Here are a few thoughts I came up with, they are not proven and only partially researched so don’t treat them as gospel, but in my mind they certainly hold weight.

Link Structure

The linking structure of your site is fundamental to SEO but how do we use it to benefit users?

User Aspect: Using descriptive anchor text in our links that are relevant to the page it’s pointing to will help users find the information they are looking for quickly.

SEO Aspect: Using relevant keywords in anchor text that points to relevant quality resources has already been proven to increase rankings within Google.

User Aspect: Having links to your most useful information nearer the top of your page will also assist visitors finding your quality content quicker.

SEO Aspect: Now what I am about to say has not yet been proven but I am in the middle of testing it. Google confessed years ago that they alone decided how much PageRank passes through a particular link and that PageRank does not pass through links equally.

So if this is the case which links on your page do you think pass more PageRank? I am guessing the ones nearer the top as these are the ones Google will presume are of more benefit to a user? Do you understand my logic?

So why can’t we sculpt pagerank this way, by making sure the pages we want to gain the most benefit are sat at the top of our pages?

Content

User Aspect: A site with 300 pages of relevant content is going to be of more benefit to a user than a site with a few pages.

SEO Aspect: It is well known that a site with growing content ranks better than a stale site. I am involved in a piece of research which is looking at the impact of fresh new content and increasing content, to see the direct effect it has on rank, the results so far are looking promising.

Analytics

There have been rumblings recently that Google may start or may even have started looking at how users interact with a site as a way of ranking it. So a high bounce rate or a low amount of time spent on a site may indicate a lower rank.

I personally don’t think this could happen as it would be too difficult to measure and too easy to manipulate, however it goes along the same line of thought, that Google want an enhanced user experience so why shouldn’t they put emphasis on it?

I firmly believe the way forward for SEO is all about considering the user experience and then seeing how it can be tied in to search engine optimisation. Simply concentrating on spiders will no longer bring the fruits your looking for, creating a great resource that is aimed at certain keywords, with a relevant link profile is, in my opinion, going to be the optimal technique for optimising your site.

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Author: Tim (296 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 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 Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jaya July 30, 2009 at 6:23 am

This post is very helpful , it covers web page optimization tricks, very clearly , “the link between SEO and usability “, SEO improves presence in the search engine ranking , website quality and brings quality customers, increase the rate of number of visitors but if in the case may happens , many of them only visit website , leave out and reaches to another site then what is the use of this ? so to make visitors to become customer , the website usability of website very important to reach your goal.

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Tim July 30, 2009 at 8:19 am

@Jaya,

Thanks for your input :)

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