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Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by
Today I stopped by a favourite local bakery (Uprising Breads) to get an iced latte and Avocado and Hummus sandwich. The people there are always friendly and that sandwich always terrific. The problem arose when the barista served me my coffee. There was my coffee, in the plastic cup, ice, non-fat milk, looking cool and delicious, and he’s put one of those domed lids on it, and no straw. So I look at my barista and ask, ‘so with that lid and no straw how am I supposed to drink it?’. The response was awesome, ‘we don’t have any straws’.
For me, this is the problem with a lot of the work people pay for around SEO (Search Engine Optimization). They pay good money, they get their site ranking very highly in Google and other search engines, but the experience for users once they get there is sub-optimal. They get the iced latte but is packaged in such a way as it is impossible to drink.
I recently sat with a group of business people who were all talking about SEO, how important it was and how high their sites were ranking. Not one of them mentioned bounce rate, nor conversions. When a probed a little further, one mentioned that his whole site was designed from an SEO perspective, another said what their SEO person told them was that the contact us form on the site was ‘all wrong’. One asked if the best place to start thinking about their website was SEO, and most of the group agreed. Not one considered if their sites were meeting their user’s needs, answering their questions, or for that matter, delivering on their business objectives.
Given both my personality, and the work we do, it’s not surprising to those that know me that I did not agree. That group’s emphasis on SEO is a testament to how effective the people who work with SEO have been at getting their message out and to the dominance of search in our lives. And truly, SEO is important, if your customers can’t find you on the web, and how they find you is by using a search engine, then you do need to put some attention here. What kills me is the focus on SEO to the detriment of the user experience. Why on earth would you serve me a drink in a way that makes it impossible to drink it? The same applies to SEO and the user experience of your website, why on earth would you lead me to a site that is hard to use?
This begs the question how do you do design for a great user experience, usability, and SEO, on a limited budget? Here is some basic advice that will go a long way to helping you achieve both good rankings as well as have a site that brings you business:
There are many more things you can do, of course. But with a limited budget, limited time, this is a great start.