Not Drop Your Web Site Off the Search Engine Cliff
- Search Engine Guide (www.searchengineguide.com)
you've been feeling like Tom Cruise climbing up the
side of some remote jagged mountain in the blazing hot
sun and concerned you're facing "mission impossible",
chances are you own a web site.
Adding to the intense thrill of web site ownership are
keyword comparisons and bidding for good keyword positions
in search engines. You might hire a search engine optimization
specialist who can track elusive algorithm clues and
is unfazed by page rank drama. Your programmers and
designers insist they get along. The marketing department
actually believes deadlines are met. The new bank account
is waiting for fresh revenue. And oh yes, it's assumed
someone will come looking for your web site and wants
to use it.
You did build it for them, right?
For every search result, there is the possibility that:
a. The engine will display a description that makes
sense. Or not.
b. The page the search engine refers to does what the
description said it would do and is about what the search
engine said it would cover. Or not.
Your SEO/SEM, if you hired a good one, helped you write
your title tag statement and Meta page description and
structured it so it makes sense in SERPs (search engine
Your Usability professional, if you hired one, evaluated
the page to make sure it would meet customer expectations
and convince visitors there are other hot pages inside
the web site to look at too. Without call to action
prompts, well displayed, logically labeled navigation
links and credible content, the chance of someone remaining
on that page is pretty slim.
Says Gordon Hotchkiss, President and CEO of Enquiro
Search Solutions, Inc., in a recent Search Day article
written by Shari Thurow, called Creating Compelling
Search Engine Ads and Landing Pages, "Once searchers
arrive on your landing pages, you have 13.2 seconds
to convince visitors that they are on the right site."
Had enough of web page abandonment? Are those cost per
click fees putting you further in credit card debt and
not producing any bang for your buck? Which part of
"understand your web site visitor" didn't
make it to the drawing board?
I know this is hard. You're not a mind reader. Unless
you have access to costly studies and data about who
to build your web site for and their computer usage
habits, chances are you simply wanted a web site and
hoped people would find it and use it. By incorporating
the skills and expertise of an SEO/SEM along with a
user centered design specialist, you will not be wastefully
tossing your web site off the search engine cliff. Rather,
your adoring fans will clamor up the cliff to get to
Sometimes a web designer is also trained in these fields
or is partnered with people who are. This is something
to consider when shopping around for web site assistance.
Here are some things to keep in mind when studying your
web site. You can also ask your team to consider these
1. What happens after your site reaches top rank? It's
lonely up there, if nobody notices your page or understands
the page description. How effective is high rank? Do
people really click on "sponsored" pages vs.
2. Pay attention to inside "landing" pages.
Optimize them for easy indexing and point visitors to
your homepage, sale products or free stuff.
3. Be wise about what you invest. Every cost per click
must be productive. If not, a usability web site review
can locate roadblocks.
4. It's about the user experience. Really. It's a common
habit for web site owners to create the site for themselves
based on what they like and want. When you receive a
complaint, consider it a favor. Yes, some people are
mean and critical. But, enhancements are improvements
that sometimes benefit a lot of people, and you too,
in the long run.
5. Don't settle for minimum effort. One of your goals
is to reach potential customers and readers. Your optimized
pages reach people looking for them. Your user centered
pages reach people wanting to use them and will refer
them to friends.
6. Your competition does it better. Not by packing hidden
keywords and buying links, but by carefully targeting
keywords, providing cleverly written content and delivering
user centered design.
7. Think sustainability. If you plan on your web site
being around for a while, make this a checkpoint for
every future decision related to your site. If someone
has an idea that won't impact the long-term sustainability
of the site, the site may disappear out of sheer user
boredom. And search do engines notice.
8. Understanding your visitors and customers allows
for more creative keyword combinations. Put a feedback
form on your web site. Ask them how they found your
web site. Ask them what keywords they used. Ask them
why they came or what they wanted to find. Ask them
if they found what they were looking for and if not,
provide room for comments so they can explain what happened.
This information is a gold mine for you.
9. Never mislead your visitors. Be accurate with what
you say a site or page is about. Search results relevancy
establishes trust from the start.
10. The elegance of action. The act of landing on a
relevant, accurate, persuasive, interesting page leads
to the fluid, unencumbered desire to know more and click
deeper. Aim for this.
Do not drop your web site over the search engine cliff
without considering the usability effect. Design it
to be productive and user centered. This will pay off
in many ways. Remember your original requirements and
goals and trace back every dollar you spend to meeting
them. Marketing efforts are strengthened when you make
your visitors feel welcome, informed and productive
once they arrive at your web site.
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