Aug 24, 2007 114 reads by Navneet Kaushal

Build a user-friendly site and chances are you've also built a search engine friendly site. Learn how good usability can help your human visitors plus bring in the search traffic.


  • Gordon Hotchkiss, President & CEO, Enquiro Search Solutions Inc.


  • Shari Thurow, Founder & SEO, Omni Marketing Interactive
  • Matthew Bailey, President, Site Logic Marketing

Shari Thurow of Omni Marketing Interactive who has been enlightening throughout all the days is first to speak on Usability & SEO.

Shari says that if one designs for the user only then you won't generate much income, one has to keep in mind business goals. Some search behaviors to take consideration are:

  • Browsing
  • Pogo sticking (jumping between pages)
  • foraging
  • scanning
  • reading
  • berrypicking
  • Querying

Key concepts in search usability

  • Scent of info
  • sense of place
  • user confidence
  • information arch vs site navigation
  • interface

Scent of info comprises

  • text and graphics that humans use to decide a path to choose.
  • Terms that have been highlighted for search engines help with scent of information by suggesting clues.
  • Usability helps in relevancy through HTML title tags, body copy.
  • Secondary text comprises meta tag description and URL structure.
  • This gives a sense of place and scent of information.
  • Further it encourages clicks to your pages.
  • There is the 8 second (or 5 second) test. Show people your page for 5-8 seconds. Ask where are you? What are you viewing? What is the topic? Is the info you want there? This helps you understand if the keywords are there or not or the content provides enough scent of information clues.

Shari recommends keeping the underline for clickable links as blue represents being a click. However blue for non clickable terms confuses people.

Shari explains Info arch as the organization of site content into groups.

Determine info arch first, then design. She has a demo page that shows navigation, groupings of info. Asked people what are you viewing? They got it 100% right because page was keyword focused and navigation supports it via keyword oriented labels and specific placement of info. Keywords help your visitors find what they want while also aiding search engines. Site nav, cross linking,page layout, allocation of page real estate and URL structure is where you add keywords to content to be spider friendly.

Shari's Tips:

  • Cross link vertically as well as horizontally.
  • Use embedded text links. If you have a glossary, you should have some form of alphabetical navigation (A, B, C, D etc.)
  • Every site should have a sitemap.
  • Don't make sea of blue.
  • Annotate the links.
  • If you have to create a sitemap so your users can use the site, it means your site isn't built right. There are those who disagree with this few as well. Simple URLS are the ones users will remember the most. (The ones minus the extra parameters.)
  • One sub directory or two? Both are fine and both are search engine friendly.
  • Sub directory or sub domain are fine. Sub domains are recommended for very large sites. URLS can and should communicate the site arch and it doesn't hurt rank

In the end, search usability helps web pages to be found and helps visitors use the site once its found.

Next and last is Matthew Bailey the President of Site Logic Marketing. Matt states that usability and search go hand in hand.

Matt says SEO was born of usability and site arch. Meaning that, when you make alterations in usability your site's search results will see differences too. All in all the main purpose of search is to bring in people into your website. Improve qualified traffic. This is usability.

It is upto you to direct users to your site and if they are not interested its because they cannot get what they want.


  • Color and placement matter.
  • Taxonony- hierarchal structure, classication, grouping.
  • You need to determine how people classify things. People don't do it the same way.
  • When you develop keyword groups, how do your users group the words? This information goes into your navigation labels and information arch.
  • Make links clear and visible. This allows SE's to see those pages.
  • You can also interlink your own web pages.


Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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