An empirical study on website usability elements and how they affect search engine optimisation.

Visser, E.B. & Weideman, M.

SA Journal of Information Management. 13(1), Art. #428, 9 pages.

Visser, E.B. & Weideman, M. 2011. An empirical study on website usability elements and how they affect search engine optimisation. SA Journal of Information Management. 13(1), Art. #428, 9 pages. Online: http://web-visibility.co.za/website-visibility-digital-library-seo/

ABSTRACT
The primary objective of this research project was to identify and investigate the website usability attributes which are in contradiction with search engine optimisation elements. The secondary objective was to determine if these usability attributes affect conversion. Although the literature review identifies the contradictions, experts disagree about their existence. An experiment was conducted, whereby the conversion and/or traffic ratio results of an existing control website were compared to a usability-designed version of the control website, namely the experimental website. All optimisation elements were ignored, thus implementing only usability. The results clearly show that inclusion of the usability attributes positively affect conversion, indicating that usability is a prerequisite for effective website design. Search engine optimisation is also a prerequisite for the very reason that if a website does not rank on the first page of the search engine result page for a given keyword, then that website might as well not exist. According to this empirical work, usability is in contradiction to search engine optimisation best practices. Therefore the two need to be weighed up in terms of importance towards search engines and visitors.
REFERENCES
  1. Barnard, L. & Wesson, J.L. 2003, 'Usability issues for E-commerce in South Africa: An empirical investigation', Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists (SAICSIT), Pretoria, 2003, September 17-19, pp. 258-267.
  2. Bevan, N., 2005, 'Guidelines and Standards for Web Usability', Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Las Vegas, 2005, July 22-27, pp. 1-10.
  3. Bruno, V. & Al-Qaimari, G. 2004, 'Usability Attributes: An Initial Step Toward Effective User-Centred Development', Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group (CHISIG), Wollongong, 2004, November 22-24, pp. 1-4.
  4. Eisenberg, B., Quarto-vonTivadar, J., Davis, L.T. & Crosby, B., 2008, Always be testing: The complete guide to Google website optimizer, Sybex, Indianapolis.
  5. George, C.A., 2005, 'Usability testing and design of a library website: An interactive approach', OCLC System & Services 21(3), 167-180. doi:10.1108/10650750510612371, PMCid:2431148
  6. Google, 2009, Back to Basics: Direct, referral or organic - definitions straight from the source, viewed 02 May 2010, from http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/08/back- to-basics-direct-referral-or.html
  7. Google, 2010a, Frames, viewed 29 April 2010, from http://www.google.com/support/ webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34445
  8. Google, 2010b, Little or no original content, viewed 01 May 2010, from https://www. google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66361
  9. Google, 2010c, Webmaster guidelines, viewed 27 April 2010, from http://www. google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769
  10. James, J.P., 2002, 'Usability and usefulness of ergonomics web sites: a preliminary investigation', South African Journal of Information Management 4(1), viewed 02 May 2010, from http://www.sajim.co.za
  11. Johnson, J., 2007, GUI Bloopers 2.0, Second Edition: Common User Interface Design Dont's and Dos. Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco.
  12. Johnson, J., 2008, Web Usability in 2008: Mediocre, viewed 01 May 2010, from http:// www.uiwizards.com/WebUsability2008.pdf
  13. Kritzinger, W.T. & Weideman, M., 2008, 'Finding the synergy: search engine optimization vs. website usability', Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference on World Wide Web Applications, Cape town, 2008, September 3-5, viewed 04 May 2010, from http://www.zaw3.co.za
  14. Live, 2010, Guidelines for successful indexing, viewed 01 May 2010, from http://help. live.com/help.aspx?mkt=en-US&project=wl_webmasters
  15. Murphy, H.C. & Kielgast, C.D., 2008, 'Do small and medium-sized hotels exploit search engine marketing?', International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 20(1), 90-97. doi:10.1108/09596110810848604
  16. Neethling, R., 2008, 'Search engine optimisation or paid placement system-user preference' unpublished MTech thesis, Dept. of Information Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town.
  17. Ngindana, M.W. & Weideman, M., 2004, 'Visibility to search engines: A comparison between text-based and graphic-based hyperlinks on e-Commerce websites', Proceedings of the 6th Annual Conference on World Wide Web Applications, Johannesburg, 2004, September 1-3, Johannesburg, viewed 01 May 2010, from http://www.zaw3.co.za
  18. Nielsen, J. & Tahir, M., 2001, Homepage usability: 50 websites deconstructed, New Riders Press, United States of America.
  19. Nielsen, J. & Loranger, H., 2006, Prioritizing web usability, New Riders Press, Berkeley.
  20. Nielsen, J., 2003, Usability 101: Introduction to usability, viewed 02 May 2010, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030825.html
  21. Nielsen, J., 2005, Web usability: The top ten design mistakes, viewed 04 May 2010, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/weblogs.html
  22. Nielsen, J., 2007, Top ten mistakes in web design, viewed 01 May 2010, from http:// www.useit.com/alertbox/9605.html Searchenginewatch, 2007, How search engines work, viewed 02 May 2010, http:// searchenginewatch.com/2168031 Searchenginewatch, 2009, Top search providers for August 2009, viewed 01 May 2010, from http://searchenginewatch.com/3634991
  23. Sullivan, D, 2004, Google tops, but Yahoo switch success so far, viewed 04 May 2010, from http://searchenginewatch.com/3334881
  24. Sullivan, D., 2006, Nielsen NetRatings Search Engine Ratings, viewed 01 May 2010, from http://searchenginewatch.com/2156451
  25. Visser, E.B., 2007, 'Search engine optimisation elements' effect on website visibility: The Western Cape real estate SMME sector', unpublished MTech thesis, Dept. of Information Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town.
  26. Weideman, M. & Chambers, R., 2005, 'Application of best practice towards improving Web site visibility to search engines: A pilot study', South African Journal of Information Management, 7(4), viewed 30 April 2010, from http://www.sajim. co.za
  27. Weideman, M., 2009, Website Visibility: The Theory and Practice of Improving Rankings, Chandos Publishers, Oxford. Yahoo, 2010, Yahoo! Search content quality guidelines, viewed 01 May 2010, from http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/ search/basics/basics-18.html
  28. Zuze, H. & Weideman, M., 2010, 'Keyword density in website body text - search engine spamdexing? Poster presentation', Proceedings of the 12th World Wide Web conference (ZAW3-10), Durban, 2010, September 21-23.
Full text of Journal Article No 0027: An empirical study on website usability elements and how they affect search engine optimisation.

Digital Library with full-text of academic publications on website visibility, usability, search engines, information retrieval

Back to Home page