Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SEO and Usability — What’s More Important?

We’ve all heard the old question, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” When it comes to creating a successful website, it’s easy to get bogged down by a similar issue; specifically, is it more important to create an amazing-looking website that dazzles visitors and is easy to navigate or is implementing SEO the most valuable use of time? If you want your website to be a success, it’s necessary to find the ideal balance between these two very different elements so your site is findable and engages visitors and converts them to buyers (or, whatever else it is you’re trying to accomplish with your website).

Another old adage comes to mind surrounding the SEO vs. usability debate: “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” In other words, you could have the greatest website in the world, but if no one is able to find it, it may as well not exist. Therefore, it is very important to optimize your site with the use of keywords, links and quality content so it can be easily found when someone performs a search.

While there’s no denying the importance of getting your site to rank at the top of search results, it’s essential to make sure once users find your site, they will want to stay there. Having a well-structured, easy-to-navigate site is crucial in being able to convert visitors into consumers of your brand or product. Now that you have people in the forest to hear the tree fall, so to speak, you have to make sure your website will make them want to stick around.

Even though it can be a delicate balancing act to get SEO and usability to work well together, by following a few tips, you will get started down the right path. For one thing, these two components of your site should be weighed equally from the very beginning of the creation of your website. At the outset, if your SEO and design teams are considered equally important and work well together, you will be saving yourself from a lot of problems down the road. Also, at certain times, SEO will need to take top priority over usability and vice versa, so the ability to recognize this fact and make adjustments as time goes by will be key to your continued success. It takes careful planning to please both your human visitors and search engine spiders and with some experimentation, you will be able to accomplish this goal!

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