SEM Bogus for Sites That Don’t Function

    July 16, 2007

While there are bugs in the Beta version of Sphinn, that doesn’t seem to be stopping search engine marketers from racing over to try Danny Sullivan’s I visited twice and haven’t joined because I’m disappointed there’s no place for me there.

The focus is strictly on search engines, search optimization and marketing, and social media. There is no welcome mat for people in the industry, such as myself, who support SEO/M efforts by taking web sites and Internet applications to the next step. The emphasis at Sphinn is on search results, not customer results.

There’s an “Other” category, but I refuse to be an Other. There are those few of us tied to the SEO industry whose skills work user centered design, usability, persuasive design (i.e marketing), accessibility and site functionality (software testing) into web sites that are optimized for search engines. Our goal is to not only make web sites that are found and rank well, but when visitors click into them, they don’t run screaming, feeling betrayed by pages that aren’t designed to work for people.

This is the reason I don’t attend, or plan to attend, the new SMX Expos. The focus is limited to search marketing, but the human factors side of web and persuasive site architecture and how these are married to marketing have not been included in the covered topics (so far).

By contrast, Search Engine Strategies has included this arm of marketing and continues to teach attendees how to code, plan and design web pages that work for search engines and people. (As noted below in the comments, I neglected to say that Danny Sullivan handled programming for SES and now the new SMX. Some SES conferences had at least 3 usability related sessions, approved by him.)

I’ve never understood a disconnect between search engine marketing and usability when so many companies and government agencies are clamoring for usability and persuasive design help. Thank heavens there are some leading search marketing companies and even smaller local ones that reach out for usability assistance because their clients need it and there’s a strong, growing demand for usable web sites that convert visitors to customers, accounts, readers, community, etc.

With the growing number of “in-house” SEO/M’s, whose responsibilities are marketing their company’s web site interests to Internet users, it makes sense to also instruct them on making sure pages are built to meet requirements and how to track, test and implement changes based on human usage data analysis that goes beyond keywords and links.

My personal experience is some top search marketing companies will not accept new clients without first having a usability audit performed on the site or it is included in with their quotes because they know it enhances their services and provides a better long-term ROI for their clients.

Case in point, I’m working on a site in a highly competitive industry. It’s not optimized well for search engines and could use some help. They could simply hire a search engine marketing company to make the site rock in search engines and call it a day.

However, I spent nearly 10 hours trying to get their web application to DO SOMETHING! It doesn’t work. It’s hard to understand, but worse, it simply doesn’t function. Since the application is the bread and butter of the site and their leading tool for conversions, all the money they spend on marketing is going down the tubes.

To not talk about this in the search engine marketing industry just floors me and worse, their clients suffer.

Maybe client satisfaction doesn’t matter to some search marketers.

I wouldn’t hire them if I knew that.

Cre8asiteforums discussion in the SEO Forum – Is Usability Part Of The New Seo? Kim rants, Danny listens