Fusing website usability and search engine optimisation.
Visser, E.B. & Weideman, M. 2014.
SA Journal of Information Management, 16(1), Art. #577, 9 pages.
Visser, E.B. & Weideman, M. 2014. Fusing website usability and search engine optimisation. SA Journal of Information Management, 16(1), Art. #577, 9 pages. Online: http://web-visibility.co.za/website-visibility-digital-library-seo/
Background: Most websites, especially those with a commercial orientation, need a high ranking on a search engine for one or more keywords or phrases. The search engine optimisation process attempts to achieve this. Furthermore, website users expect easy navigation, interaction and transactional ability. The application of website usability principles attempts to achieve this. Ideally, designers should achieve both goals when they design websites.
Objectives: This research intended to establish a relationship between search engine optimisation and website usability in order to guide the industry. The authors found a discrepancy between the perceived roles of search engines and website usability.
Method: The authors designed three test websites. Each had different combinations of usability, visibility and other attributes. They recorded and analysed the conversions and financial spending on these experimental websites. Finally, they designed a model that fuses search engine optimisation and website usability.
Results: Initially, it seemed that website usability and search engine optimisation complemented each other. However, some contradictions between the two, based on content, keywords and their presentation, emerged. Industry experts do not acknowledge these contradictions, although they agree on the existence of the individual elements. The new model highlights the complementary and contradictory aspects.
Conclusion: The authors found no evidence of any previous empirical experimental results that could confirm or refute the role of the model. In the fast-paced world of competition between commercial websites, this adds value and originality to the websites of organisations whose websites play important roles.
- Adamo, S., 2013, 'comScore releases August 2013 U.S. Search Engine Rankings', in
comScore, viewed 16 October 2013, from http://www.comscore.com/Insights/
- Arlitsch, K. & O'Brien, P.S., 2012, 'Invisible institutional repositories: Addressing the
low indexing ratios of IRs in Google Scholar', Library Hi Tech 30(1), 60-81. http://
- Baeza-Yates, R. & Ribeiro-Neto, B., 1999, Modern information retrieval, Addison-Wesley,
- Canavan, O., Henchion, M. & O'Reilly, S., 2007, 'The use of the Internet as a marketing
channel for Irish speciality food', International Journal of Retail & Distribution
Management 35(2), 178-195. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09590550710728110
- Carpineto, C., Osiński, S., Romano, G. & Weiss, D., 2009, 'A survey of web clustering
engines', ACM Computing Surveys 41(3), 17.1-17.38.
- Cooper, L., 2013, 'Aiming high', Marketing Week 41(3), 39-41.
- Cutts, M., 2007, 'Undetectable spam', in Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO, viewed
01 May 2013, from http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/undetectable-spam/
- Cutts, M., 2010, 'Google incorporating site speed in search rankings', in Matt Cutts:
Gadgets, Google, and SEO, viewed 01 February 2013, from http://www.mattcutts.
- Cutts, M., 2011, 'My thoughts on this week's debate', n Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and
SEO, viewed 26 January 2013, from http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/google-bing/
- Eisenberg, B., Quarto-von Tivadar, J., Davis, L.T. & Crosby, B., 2008, Always be testing:
the complete guide to Google website optimizer, Sybex, Indianapolis.
- El-Gohary, H., 2010, 'E-Marketing - A literature review from a small business perspective',
International Journal of Business and Social Science 1(1), 214-244.
- Enge, E., Spencer, S., Fishkin, R. & Stricchiola, J.C., 2010, The art of SEO - Mastering
search engine optimization, O'Reilly Media Inc., Sebastopol.
- Google, 2009, Personalized search for everyone, viewed 25 August 2013, from http://
- Google, 2011a, Frequently asked questions for the Google analytics data sharing options,
viewed 29 November 2012, from http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/
- Google, 2011b, Link schemes, viewed 27 January 2013, from http://www.google.com/
- Google, 2011c, High-quality sites algorithm goes global, incorporates user feedback,
viewed 25 August 2013, from http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/
- Google, 2011d, More guidance on building high-quality sites, viewed 25 August 2013,
- Jerkovic, J.I., 2010, SEO warrior, O'Reilly Media Inc., Sebastopol.
- Kűster, I. & Vila, N., 2011, 'Successful SME web design through consumer focus groups',
International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management 28(2), 132-154. http://
- Layton, R.A., 2011, 'Towards a theory of marketing systems', European Journal of
Marketing 45(1/2), 259-276. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03090561111095694
- Moz, 2013, Google algorithm change history, viewed available 25 August 2013, from
- 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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09596110810848604
- Nielsen, J. & Loranger, H., 2006, Prioritizing web usability, New Riders Press, Berkeley.
- Nicholas, D., Clark, D., Rowlands, I. & Jamali, H.R., 2013, 'Information on the Go: A case
study of Europeana mobile users', Journal of the American Society for Information
Science and Technology 64(7), 1311-1322. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.22838
- Oliveira, T. & Martins, M.F., 2010, 'Understanding e-business adoption across
industries in European countries', Industrial Management & Data Systems 110(9),
- Pather, S. & Remenyi, D., 2005, 'Some of the philosophical issues underpinning research
in information systems - From positivism to critical realism', South African Computer
Journal 35, 76-83.
- Quinton, B.D., 2012, 'Google's Penguin update: Unhappy feat for marketers?', Chief
Marketer 3(10), 8.
- Rayson, S., 2013, 10 Ways Google+ will improve your SEO, in socialmediatoday, viewed
25 August 2013, from http://socialmediatoday.com/node/1600736
- Samujh, H., 2011, 'Micro-businesses need support: survival precedes sustainability',
Corporate Governance 11(1), 15-28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/14720701111108817
- Segal, D., 2011, 'The dirty little secrets of search', in The New York Times, viewed 02
February 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/business/13search.html
- Sullivan, D., 2009, Google now personalizes everyone's search result, in Search Engine
Land, viewed 25 August 2013, from http://searchengineland.com/google-now-
- Sullivan, D., 2011, Why Google Panda is more a ranking factor than algorithm update,
in Search Engine Land, viewed 25 August 2013, from http://searchengineland.
- Sullivan, D., 2012, Google Penguim update recovery tips & advice, in Search Engine
Land, viewed 25 August 2013, from http://searchengineland.com/penguin-update-
- Thurasamy, R., Mohamad, O., Omar, A. & Marimuthu, M., 2009, 'Technology adoption
among small and medium enterprises (SME's): A research agenda', World Academy
of Science, Engineering and Technology 53, 943-946.
- Thurow, S., 2003, Search engine visibility, New Riders Press, Indianapolis.
- Thurow, S., 2008, Search engine visibility, 2nd edn., New Riders Press, Indianapolis.
- Thurow, S. & Musica, N., 2009, When search meets web usability, New Riders Press,
- Visser, E.B., 2007, 'Search engine optimisation elements' effect on website visibility:
The Western Cape real estate SMME sector', unpublished MTech thesis, Cape
Peninsula University of Technology.
- Visser, E.B. & Weideman, M., 2011a, 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. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v13i1.428
- Visser, E.B. & Weideman, M., 2011b,' Search engine optimisation versus Website
usability - Conflicting requirements?', Information Research 16(3), paper 493.
- Weideman, M., 2009, Website visibility: The theory and practice of improving ranking,
Chandos Publishers, Oxford. http://dx.doi.org/10.1533/9781780631790
- Wu, B. & Davison, B.D., 2006, Detecting semantic cloaking on the Web, in Proceedings
of the International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2), Edinburgh,
- Yang, C., Yang, K. & Yuan, H., 2007, 'Improving the search process through ontology-
based adaptive semantic search', The Electronic Library 25(2), 234-248. http://