Is SEO Hampering Your Siteâ€™s Usability?
One of the biggest mistakes I run across is website owners getting so obsessed with SEO they completely ignore the usability of their site. They get so crazed with the idea of ranking well in the search engines that itâ€™s all they focus on. In their pursuit of search engine rankings, they diminish the other aspects of their site, thus ruining their chances for conversion.
Here are some of the most common situations where SEO gets in the way of a siteâ€™s usability:
Long Pages of Text â€“ Admit it– youâ€™ve stretched your content out a little longer than it needed to be so you could hit that â€œmagicâ€ 400-500 word count for SEO. If Iâ€™ve seen it once, Iâ€™ve seen it a thousand times. What could have easily been said in less than 200 words is drawn out into a 400 or 500 word repetitive, keyword stuffed page. Too much text hampers the usability of your site. Even if itâ€™s easy-to-scan, it can still be intimidating to land on a page filled with nothing but text.
Lack of Pictures â€“ This is another prime example of SEO out of control. Some people get so caught up in the idea of optimizing their site, they leave out anything that isnâ€™t contributing higher search engine rankings. Websites without pictures are boring, period. Well placed pictures make your site more welcoming and more usable (especially if the picture is of a product.) Never sacrifice an attractive website for the sake of SEO. Thereâ€™s no point in ranking well if no one stays on your site.
Keyword Stuffed Title Tags â€“ Anyone with even a passing knowledge of SEO knows the importance of the title tag. Itâ€™s one of the most important places for including your siteâ€™s relevant keywords. Of course, this too has been taken to the extreme. Some sites include nothing but a long list of keywords in their title tags. This is terrible for usability. Ideally, your company name should be first (for better bookmarking) followed by a brief description of the page. In this brief description, you can certainly include a key phrase. Just donâ€™t stuff the title so full of them that it makes your site look spammy.
Too Many Internal Links â€“ Keyword-rich internal links are another technique used by SEOs to improve a pageâ€™s relevance for certain phrases. When done properly, they can actually enhance the usability of your site by guiding the visitors in a logical path from page to page. But these too can easily get out of hand. If I land on a page and all I see are tons of links, I immediately leave that page. It reeks of spam, and more importantly, itâ€™s just annoying. Use internal linking sparingly and only when it makes sense. As a general rule of thumb, two or three links per page is an acceptable number.
No Contact Information â€“ This goes back to the notion that everything on a page should be contributing to getting higher search engine placement. If your contact information is difficult to find, youâ€™ll lose potential customers. People donâ€™t want to spend time trying to figure out how to get in touch with you. They want answers now. Have your contact information and contact forms in easy to find places on each page. Not only will this improve conversion, but it also helps your site look more trustworthy.
If your site is suffering from any of these usability mistakes, develop a plan for correcting them immediately. The more usable your site is, the likelier it is to achieve the results you desire.