SES New York: Satisfying Usability And SEO

    March 20, 2008

Satisfying both human users and search engines’ standards is time-consuming and not exactly simple.  The good news, though, is that these two tasks shouldn’t always tug you in opposite directions.

(Coverage of the SES New York conference continues at WebProNews Videos.  Keep an eye on WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.)

A session titled "Usability & SEO: 2 Wins For The Price Of 1" addressed the related issues.  Matthew Bailey, the president of SiteLogic, began by highlighting the connection: SEO is about getting people to your site, and usability is about having them follow clear paths once there.

To satisfy both needs, Bailey recommended using a combination of images, alt text, and captions.  Also, call products what they are; he used the (surprisingly successful) Boudreaux’s Butt Paste as an example of something that doesn’t make its true use (as a diaper rash treatment) clear.

Kathleen Fealy, the president of KF Multimedia & Web, Inc., later continued the conversation by emphasizing SEO and usability overlaps like site maps, strong navigation, and clean calls to action.  She also echoed the paste example by stressing that, for the best results in both worlds, people should use the same words real customers would.

Finally, Fealy pointed out that optimizing SEO and usability is an ongoing process, so you should formulate a plan of action and specific goals before getting in too deep.