Search engine optimization (SEO) is about far more than keywords. Website usability and functionality are such important requirements for landing in search engine results pages (SERPs) that, put simply, uniting the strategies "is part of a good SEO approach," according to Etela Ivkovic, Director General/SEO Initiative Manager at New York-based Web marketing consultancy DragonSearch.
"Even if you rank well and users come to your site, if your site is not user-friendly and has poor functionality, those visitors will not only bounce and leave your site, but will also associate it with a bad experience," Ivkovic says. "They will make sure not to come back in the future. And, in today's social world, they are likely to share their bad experiences with their networks on- and offline. In addition, search engines are monitoring user behavior very closely, taking note of sites that get high bounce rates, and are likely to use these signals in their ranking algorithms."
Offering advice to help marketers prevent those eventualities are Ivkovic and:
- Joe Austin, president of Chantilly, Va.-based SEO-integrated content marketing software and services provider Ventana New Media;
- Matthias Bachor, marketing director of German-based search analytics company Searchmetrics;
- Rick Egan, vice president of group accounts at Santa Monica, Calif.-based online marketing firm The Search Agency, Inc.;
- Ben Finklea, CEO of Austin, Texas-based search marketing firm Volacci;
- Nick Stamoulis, president of Boston-based search engine and Web marketing firm Brick Marketing;
- Amanda G. Watlington, Ph.D., owner of Charlestown, Mass.-based search engine marketing consultancy Searching for Profit; and
- Lauren Whitson, spokeswoman for the German-based Internet company 1&1 Internet, Inc, which has North American headquarters in Chesterbrook, Pa.
1. Navigation needs to be intuitive, easy and logical. Never use flash here—always use HTML, Whitson says. Not only does she say flash is ugly, but also that search engines will ignore the content.