29 Jan 2013

It’s Not the SEO’s Fault

For Marketers: Explaining the Importance of Usability to Site Owners – Part Two

Last week I launched this series on selling usability to site owners by offering some of my favorite eye opening pitches to prospective clients. Visual proof is always easy to do. But, it’s not enough.

When a prospective client approaches a search engine marketing company for marketing help, most, if not all, of the proposed strategy is focused on search engine rank, indexing, and page optimization. Then, there are additional assists from PPC, ad words, content writing, and social marketing. Absolutely everything falls on the SEO and wrestling with keyword searches, links and analytics.

Unfortunately, as grand and useful as all that is, for hundreds of competitive industries like real estate, fashion, healthcare, manufacturing and more, the daily jumping through search engine hoops is expensive and not always successful.

This SEO Company Sucks

If search engine optimization is all a site owner is paying for and they’re not happy with the results, this is what they’re saying. Worse yet, they’re telling their friends that your SEO strategy failed. This is unfortunate because more could have been done by the SEO Company if they offered web site usability services.

Before you roll your eyes, let’s take a closer look at what usability services do for online marketing.

Who uses web sites? Search engines or people? Who needs your products and services? Search engines or people? What are people searching for? Search engines can help with that. But search engines can’t tell you why those keywords are used most often.

The bounce rate that appears in Google Analytics can be upsetting to see. This is also not the SEO’s fault. They’ve done their job driving in traffic and getting your pages crawled and ranked. If visitors are exiting in high numbers or not viewing more than 1 page, this is not the SEO’s fault (unless they designed the landing page.)

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Why would a web site owner pay enormous monthly fees for just marketing without also knowing if their web site is working properly or designed for conversions? They don’t know any better. The internet marketing company doesn’t offer web site reviews or testing. The topic of business and site requirements is never brought up. Blinders are on. It’s common for site owners to believe their web site is perfectly fine and unless they get it checked over, they’ll continue to live in denial.

Sooner or later a web site owner hits a wall. If you’re thinking of adding usability services to your SEO services, first you must understand what that means before you sell the idea to your clients. As you’ll see, the depth of usability is deep and wide. Finding experienced people to offer these services isn’t easy because there’s a shortage of UX people and the best ones are snapped up.

Usability for Internet Marketing

The following are areas and skills that help unblock sluggish online marketing.

  1. Organic page optimization for SEO and Usability. It’s still rare to find anyone skilled in both and yet this combination is powerful for increasing understandability and increasing conversions.
  2. Web site testing such as professional heuristic and cognitive evaluations, user testing and eye tracking.
  3. Functional site testing of shopping carts, forms and all online applications.
  4. User Interface testing of shopping carts, forms and all online applications.
  5. User persona development used for design and redesign, site funnel testing and conversions checks.
  6. Taking a cue from Google Analytics (or other) or setting up goals and user funnels that are used to help uncover user issues.
  7. Accessibility testing for standards compliance or basic use, such as color contrasts.
  8. Browser testing, resolution testing
  9. Multiple device testing. It’s so important to site visitors to be able access your site with their cell phone or tablet.
  10. Conversions analytics and persuasive design evaluation

The selling point for SEO’s who run into a brick wall is to consider the web site design itself. Humans have a very different story to tell online marketers about what they need and want.


  1. Merlin January 31, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    Well I would agree with you on this Kimberly, people generally blame seo techniques for failed attempts. Hopefully this post will help people look beyond seo, and try other ways too for online marketing. Thanks for sharing this post, it was really informative.

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