The UX and SEO Connection For Our Changing Times

If you’re seeking signs of hope or signals for where to put your time, money and energy for your online business, I have some direction to pass along. The convergence of Internet Marketing and User Experience design is where the action is.

Peter DaVanzo has conducted an interview with Mike Grehan that contains nuggets of gems and insights by someone who has devoted the past decade to looking under search engine hoods. Mike Grehan Interview offers Mike’s perspective on what’s happening with search today. It contains valuable information. For example, he says,

But if Google is saying they now have seen a trillion URLs and have no certainty that they’ll ever be able to crawl them in a timely fashion, maybe we’ve reached the zenith of the crawl. Not only that, the end user is expecting a much richer experience. So if the main job of SEO was to optimize static web pages and make them available to crawlers, it’s all becoming a little passé now.

Indeed. Not only are searchers’ expectations changing, so are the devices used to search. We’re searching from our cell phones and Blackberries today. We search while driving (I don’t, but I know some of you do!), walking our dogs, and sweating in the gym. Not only do you want your web pages to appear in search results, but you must be sure the page your visitor clicks on matches their search criteria, immediate needs or intended task and is accessible from any device or environment they’re in at that moment.

I’ve drilled this point for years. You can market and optimize until hell freezes over and if the landing page doesn’t connect with your intended visitor, you’ve just blown your money through the fan.

So, now that search engines can follow end users they can see where they started and where they dropped off. That kind of data is so important. It’s the wisdom of crowds. It’s the people’s vote. So how does a marketer get involved there? It’s going to be a little clichéd, but create an experience – not a web page.

Creating an experience isn’t easy. Just today, in reviewing a client’s mock-ups, I presented them with challenges they hadn’t considered. Their design is snazzy and I like it, but I don’t count. My job is to speak up for their target users and those with accessibility issues that might interfere with their web page experience.

Search and user experience are changing. It has to. Our technology never stays the same. A few years ago we didn’t have Universal Search and we barely gave a nod to local search. We had little warning that social marketing would open us to wider networks of people so fast. Today, someone in Twitter can send someone to your web page and you’ll get the traffic, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get a sale, bookmark or a new fan. This traffic isn’t directed. Rather, it’s like dropping a net into the ocean and catching whoever took a fancy to the page.

How do you work with that? Plan for that? Design for that?

To understand what’s happening and apply it to design and marketing decisions, more tracking and testing are needed. In addition to all the fee and free tracking applications out there, your logs also tell stories about what’s happening with your web pages. A most incredible article on figuring out what your server log data is telling you came out this week, called An Introduction to Log File Analysis for SEOs & Webmasters, by Eric Lander

Follow up the interview by reading Mike’s paper, called New Signals to Search Engines

And put on a little Bob Dylan….

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

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