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SEO Future Frontiers: Usability will play a much larger role.

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As the Internet grows with more users who spend an ever increasing amount of time online, the science of usability testing will become a more important factor with websites.  Usability is

essentially defined as how easy or difficult an interface is to use. As a website’s traffic grows from enhanced SEO and/or social media efforts, more attention needs to be placed on navigation structure, font selection, layout elements, colors, etc… All of the aforementioned play a large role in the conversion percentage of website visitors into actual revenue.

Imagine if an E-commerce website with 400 products is earning $100,000 per month in sales and it undergoes a major navigation structure upgrade. Within seconds of launch, products are suddenly much easier to find and the site could experience an increase of +10% (+$10,000) per month in additional revenue (or more). As you can see, when the visitor traffic increases, a small percentage metric can have a tremendous effect on the bottom line. And this is just one reason why I tend to look at SEO “holistically,” and see there are several, key high level components that must be maximized for maximum success.

Within the particular post, I am mostly referring to E-commerce websites, which sell products directly to the public. However, other sites, such as information ones, can benefit from usability enhancements… think of “call, email, sign up for newsletter, etc…”

How do I test usability?

There are several ways to test usability. A business could bring in a small focus group of users and ask them to perform several website functions and then document the time each user in doing so. When the data is finish being collected, look for trends that occur and typically you will find your problems or advantages. Or, your website developer could prepare a checklist with pre designated elements (ex. font size, navigation, page length, page load time, etc…) and comment on each element with a detailed analysis which is then sent to the client as a recommendation upgrade. If you represent a larger company, you may even hire an independent usability testing firm, which typically represents the highest skill available… All of these activities are great for the website because they represent a targeted effort to better the visitor experience, which translates into better sales and conversion.

About the Author: Rhett DeMille, the owner PalmettoSoft, is a leading search engine optimization consultant located in the Charlotte NC and Charleston SC areas.

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