Internet Marketing Tips, Suggestions, & Ramblings

Search Engine Optimization vs. Website Usability

Is your SEO Confusing Users?
Is your SEO Confusing Users?

Mike Moran posted an article on Search Engine Guide today discussing a common folly in perspective regarding SEO, that being, optimizing a web page for search engines opposed to customer interaction. While this is clearly an issue which can arise in SEO, in this post I would like to comment on a sister subject, the tug of war that can occur between search engine optimization and website usability.

When you are optimizing a site for search, the search marketer’s is often enticed to pull out all the stops. I mean let’s face it, search engine optimization is competitive and a few keywords in the right place can sometimes make a big difference. But one very important item to keep in mind is usability. If the implementation of your SEO is at all misleading, and causes the usability of the site to diminish, then visitors will bounce from your pages and your conversions will most likely go down. Also, eventually your rankings will slip.

In SEO, just like in life, honesty is the best policy. If you try to cut corners by not thoroughly thinking through an SEO strategy that makes sense for both the website users and the search engines, your site will suffer. This is really what Mike Morgan is hinting at in his post. Take a look at this excerpt below:

In my talk Friday, I posed a list of things to do for improving your search marketing campaign:

  • Discovering the most popular keywords.
  • Using those keywords in your copy.
  • Conducting link campaigns to get links to your pages.

That’s not terribly controversial advice, but suppose you had a somewhat different list:

  • Discover what your customers want.
  • Provide the information they need.
  • Create information so useful that other sites link to your pages.

Ultimately, both of these perspectives need to be considered in every SEO strategy. You must have keywords in the right places, you must engage in some type of link building, and you have to optimize your site with best practices. But without considering what your customers want, giving them the information they need, and making sticky, popular pages, your site will never reach greatness.

Now this is nothing new for search engine optimization. People have been saying, “Content is King” for a long time. But in today’s online space it’s becoming even more important.

Matt Cutts, the head of web spam at Google, perhaps put it best in his recent video blog. To summarize, his main point was create amazing content while using best SEO practices and get that content exposure through all your means. Cutts’ comments hit home for me. If you create something worthwhile online it will get the credit it deserves. But you have to optimize it and promote it properly otherwise it may never be discovered. And when you do your optimization, make sure it’s done it a way that makes sense for your site and your customer first, then refine it for the search engines.

About Garry Grant

Garry Grant is a veteran expert in search engine optimization and the digital marketing industry. With nearly 20 years of experience, Garry has successfully built a multi-service operation at SEO, Inc., developing proprietary technologies through complex strategic solutions. He has extensive experience in key initiatives and operational responsibilities grounded in information technology and performance management.

Garry’s expertise and esteemed reputation, coupled with SEO Inc.’s impressive client success record has earned him such accolades as Entrepreneur Magazine's 2005 Hot List for the Hottest Internet Property, Inc. 500 2007 Honorary award for Fastest Growing Private Company in America, an Inc. 500 top 50 Company in San Diego, and interviews with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Garry Grant began his online career in 1993 creating strategic Web and e-business solutions for, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Premiere Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, EarthLink and Artisan Motion Pictures. Today, Garry and SEO Inc.’s highly skilled digital strategists develop proprietary technology and strategic digital marketing direction for Fortune 500 companies including, SC Johnson, McAfee,, Inc Magazine, IGN, Tacorri, LPL Financial, National Kidney Foundation, G4 TV, Fuel TV and Sony, just to name a few.