Walking the bridge between usability and search engine optimization practices to enhance user experience since 2000.

Ads Rile Google? Bah. What about we Humans?

This caught my attention. Google May Penalize Your Site for Having Too Many Ads published in SearchEngineWatch states

Google is looking at penalizing ad heavy sites that make it difficult for people to find good content on web pages, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, said yesterday at PubCon during his keynote session.

The key point Google appears to want to make is that anything that prevents people from reading content concerns them. The article goes on to say,

Google has been updating its algorithms over the past couple months in their different Panda updates. After looking at the various sites Panda penalized during the initial rollout, one of the working theories became that Google was dropping the rankings of sites with too many ads “above the fold.”

This is an odd stance, considering Google AdSense Help essentially tells website publishers to place ads above the fold by noting, “All other things being equal, ads located above the fold tend to perform better than those below the fold.”

There’s nothing wrong with following Google’s suggestion above. All you need to do is put the ads in a left or right sidebar and start their appearance above the page fold. The most likely human response is to focus on the important content and tasks that are also placed above the page fold and ignore the ads anyway.

My guess is that Matt Cutts was warning about the types of pages where banner ads, text ads, adsense ads and animated ads are presented in what a “in your face” type of method. We see these kinds of web pages often. There is a brief article or blog post of about 3 full paragraphs with ads of all kinds and sizes placed above, below, and on each side.

When I see someone trying to promote a page such as this, I wish I had a paint gun and could splatter gobs of colored paint all over their revenue greedy, unreadable, mind blowing self centered page. I won’t “like” it, Tweet it, recommend it or if submitted to a forum or group, will not approve it. I’m really strict about this. I’m all about the people and presenting credible, pleasant material.

I would like to see Google jump on pages that display a survey on arrival for the first time to a page or site. Typically these surveys cover up the content and to be able to read I’m forced to click it away. The same thing for ads that slide over the content or drop down from the top and hang there until you make the effort to get rid of it so you can read the content it’s covering.

Blog Usability – How to Reach Your Blogging Happy Place

Congratulations! You’re a blog owner. It has a catchy name. After submitting a blog post, you’re amazed at the inbound traffic. The ads in your sidebar are paying your mortgage. People recognize you on the street as that “Cool Blogger”. Next year, you’ll retire to some tropical island because your blog success is like winning the lottery. Or not.

A focus on the usability of your blog can help create a happy picture much like the one you’ve just read. First, let’s begin with the vision for your blog.

Vision

What is the purpose of your blog? The ease and availability of blog software has made blogging an option for nearly every type of web site. You can entertain. Inform. Sell products. Offer opinions. Market your company. Perhaps you simply want to write from your heart and your personal blog is your journal.

What is the value of your blog to your readers? Are you writing for yourself, your industry, your business, or company? Sometimes blogs are so well written that readers become fans even if the topic raises eyebrows. One of the best written blogs I ever found was filled with hilarious stories by a male escort.

Will your blog benefit readers? If your blog is part of a resorts web site, do you offer personal reviews of properties that your readers can use to help them choose where to go? If you operate a news blog, do you check facts, go by press releases or have investigative blog reporters on your staff?

Who is your target market? If you’re an artist with a blog, you may hope to inspire someone to purchase your artwork. Perhaps you want to convince them that your next show is worth attending. What writing style can you use for art lovers looking to purchase good works of art? When blogging industry news, do you write in simple terms or use technical jargon? Who will be reading your blog? Professionals? Peers? Strangers? Friends? Customers?

There may be related goals such as “to teach”, “inform and sell my book”, “news and a bit of personal life”, etc. When you wish to combine topics, communicate your objectives to your readers in your blog description or About page. Attempts to hide your true purpose or “fake out” readers may injure the credibility of your blog.

Blog visitors determine the usability and purpose of your blog based on the layout and content. When considering your target readers, consider demographic information such as age, gender, computer experience, geographic location and education.

Requirements Gathering

By now, it may have suddenly occurred to you that your blog isn’t just for you. Gathering requirements is an exercise in organization and better planning for your blog. Try to do this before you spend hours searching for the perfect blog template. The end result is better overall usability because of your close attention to small details and greater understanding of what you want to create.
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2009 Writings on SEO and UX by Kim Krause Berg

A look at the past year… I have likely forgotten something and if so, please let me know.

Web Site Requirements Include Search Engine Marketing, page 43 of SES Magazine, Chicago Edition or on Clickz, Web Site Requirements: What to Include

WebSite Magazine

Moms in Business and Everyday Usability

Everyday Usability – 14 Point Checklist for Success

Constant attention must be given to how users and search engines interact with your site to ensure that you not only attract visitors, but give them reasons to come back. Because as every Web professional knows, the more users interact with your site, the better the odds they convert.

“Performance Requirements: Sites that perform better earn deeper customer loyalty” – December issue. Not available on line yet.

Search Engine Land

Information Architecture: The Backbone of SEO and Usability

Want Better Web Design? Watch Real Users

Of Conversations and Conversions

The Importance of Knowing Your Customers’ Language

How User Behavior Influences Search Results

The Impact of The Internet on Human Behavior

Is Your Web Site Credible?

Whenever searchers see a web site for the first time, they bring along every web site experience they ever had before they got there.

How Does Your Web Site Make Visitors Feel?

Can Reading Online Be As Rewarding as Curling Up With a Good Book?

Finding The Right Balance Between Search Marketing and User Experience

(My favorite…) The Extended Brain, Search Marketing and User Experience Design

Search Engine People

How Web Site Requirements Keep Your Project From Exploding

Interview: Ruud Questions: Kim Krause Berg

She’s a woman with self-evident staying power and has transformed herself from a site builder to an SEO — and from SEO to respected usability expert.

Notable Mention

Interview: Thought Leader Thursday – Kim Krause Berg

Many site owners are held hostage by their web designers who want to add things that may not be right for the company or target users.

Secret Coded Keyword Messages in My Traffic Data

Nearly every day I look at the keywords and phrases used to find this blog. Without fail, it’s an exercise in hilarity, and not just because the top referral continues to be “sex goddess”. That, in and of itself, is insane and entirely due to Michael Gray and his playful ranking help.

Some days I think someone is trying to send me secret messages.

For example, I’m convinced someone has issues with me because nearly every day the phrase “I love you I hate you” brings someone to this blog.

MSN should pay me for the daily referrals I send them for Ms. Dewey. Nobody uses her for search, do they?

And why don’t people just type in Ms Dewey and go to the search engine? Why read what I wrote about it in 2006? Sure, I was obsessed and all…

Sometimes I really, really don’t get how this blog comes up for certain phrases and I actually get traffic for the most absurd topics. Things like:

“women popping ballons naked” – If you found my blog with this, you’re scaring me. Just want you to know that.

“forum for forum owners” – I was happy to see I’m not the only looking for one.

“canceled flights from Chicago” – I get these search phrases several times a week. Anything I can do to help the travel industry and all. Not.

“why do women post nude photos on internet” – You’re asking me???

“you are such an inspiration” – Awww, shucks. Thanks!

“porn production” - Ok. I get the theme. I don’t get why you’re all coming here, however. I retired years ago.

tree usability” – New term?

“sexy hefty women” – Okay. Who’s spying on me?

“baseball pants” - Every day I get some baseball traffic because of this post. I sell a lot of usability reports this way. Not.

“how to get ms dewy to strip” – Please refer to my post about her stripping for my husband above.

“abandoned astronaut” – These words led to my blog twice. Guess they brought a friend.

“hot nerd women” , “sexy nerds” (or variations with the word “nerd” in it) – For the record, in high school, I was one of the cool kids.

I got to wondering that if someone wants to send me secret messages, all they have to do is look up words in my posts and combine them into sentences. Like “cre8pc you sexy nerd I love you” or “hi Kim its ms dewey I’m your lost gorgeous sister” or something silly that will catch my eye.

Or, you could just email me.

But heck. Where’s the fun in that?

The Spammer Who Wants to Protect You

Every time I think I’ve seen the world’s most idiotic attempt at spam, there is someone else who wanders into my world with something new that blows the previous brainless acts out of the water.

Such is the case of this line from a blog comment spam post making the rounds in the blogs of a few of my friends:

I know a lot of spammers and I will ask them not to post on your site.

Is he kidding? Not only will he personally go out and beat up your enemies, but to seal the deal, you have to promise to link to his site on your homepage, because as he so sweetly admits,

Its just done for higher rankings in search engines.

(Note. I’ve retyped my response to this five times and none of it is printable. So, I’ll just move on.)

The second unpleasant experience of late is the discovery of a “cre8asite” website that is nothing more than a spammy GoogleAdSense nightmare thrown into a blog. Cre8asite has a blog. It has belonged to Cre8asiteforums for years. It’s called Cre8tive Flow.

Our blog has no ads because our authors voted against it. Any ads that would be added would only give us more money to donate to educational endeavors. That’s our thing. It separates us from that other guy.

Whenever I want to see entertaining dumb stuff, I need only go as far as MyBlogLog stats. This is where I see humanity in all its glory.

Lately, they’ve searched for “blog goddess sex”. Why in the world they ended up at MY blog is a real mystery. How do blogs have sex? What is the goddess technique? Is it something I can learn? How soon?

A search for “Demi Moore” found my blog. I don’t look like her, but thank you anyway.

I get a ton of traffic from people looking up “MsDewey”, especially if you put the word “strip” with the search phrase. Someone actually searched on “how to strip MsDewey”.

HELLO! If she actually stripped in the MsDewey search engine, do you honestly think Google would still be the number one search engine?

Someone found my blog by asking Google, “What dimension are we?”

I’d like to know the answer to that one myself.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m in the right one.

I’m Sorry This Blog Has No Regrets

Oui. Reading Lorelle VanFossen’s, What Should Bloggers Apologize For and How?, made me stop to wonder if I’ve ever written anything offensive to anyone on this blog. She asked if we bloggers have ever regretted anything we’ve written.

No Regrets

I think there’s a certain freedom of expression that comes with blog ownership and if bloggers write something regrettable, the horror of the experience can be enough to shut them up forever or they’ll ride the wave of backlash without batting an eyelash. I may not agree with that dumb thing they wrote, but I try to respect their right to screw up royally and I move on. Sometimes for good.

Some blog writers get their jollies by hurting people on purpose. I doubt that’s anything they regret and Lorelle’s post is scrambled eggs to them. While I personally don’t get a rise out of sites that degrade and humiliate other people, some blogs are designed to raise hell with no apologies. That’s their whole point.

A long time friend once told me that I should never have regrets. She felt they’re useless feelings that clog us up with nonsense. She says there are no regrets, only lessons we need to learn.

Another friend of mine would say to me, “Kim, let that one go! You don’t need that [insert decorative language here]!” In her fun way, she was trying to get me to unwrap and untangle myself so that I could be free to grow and keep experiencing new things. And make more mistakes.

Is that not what some of us do with our blogs? Our readers watch us grow, learn, change, experiment and make mistakes. We can’t be absolutely perfect every day.

So, if you’ve written something you regret in your blog, you can either torture yourself with a personal flogging, or just let it go. The reality is your mistakes remind us that behind your typed words there is a human being trying to figure out their Way.

I’m Sorry For

Lorelle writes,

The thrill of getting the news out first or getting your thoughts out now seems to be more important than the consequences of your words visible on the screen for all to see and search engines and other services to cache and save forever.

So have you ever published something and then regretted it and had to apologize for your actions?

Here is my list, just to cover my butt.

1. I’m sorry for not staying on topic. This is because I’ve long since forgotten what it is.

2. I deeply regret not writing something that the kind folks at Webpronews can use every day. I never know what the heck you people want, which is nice because when you run something from here, it comes as a sweet surprise.

3. I’m sorry for writing about my family. Some of you LOVE my “baseball pants in the freezer” stories and others of you…well. You haven’t learned to go with the flow here. By the way, my boy hit a home run yesterday and I got a call late last night that he made the All Star Team for the league he’s in now. He’s got a double header on Saturday. I will come home looking like a giddy mom lobster unless I remember to wear sunscreen. Which I won’t.

Sorry. Strayed off topic there didn’t I.

4. I’m so sorry I’m not naughty and “bad girl” enough. Since my days as an erotica writer are over (as if) and I have clients that expect me to be professional and gorgeously smart, I’ve needed to run a class act here. This means there are some styles of writing that don’t quite fit the “Blogger Guidelines So That Kim Behaves” document in my head. Now. For the record. The fact that I don’t talk trash in this or other blogs doesn’t mean I’m not a carefree dare devil woman with a talent for potty mouth quips. Some things are simply meant for the privacy of my own car.

5. I’m sorry for the occasional expertly written article or blog post. I’d write more of them but sometimes during the day I do that funny little thing called “work”.

6. I regret going on vacation and leaving you all here twiddling your thumbs because I know darned well that if I’m not here, you get out of your daily “Visit Kim’s Blog” routine and when I get back, I’m forced to retrain you all again to come back every day. When DID you all become little lab mice anyway?

The hardest thing about owning a blog is being perfect. I come here because I want to talk. I like you. I think it’s so cool you stopped by.

7. I’m sorry I can’t hug you in person.

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