Finding the synergy: search engine optimisation versus website usability.

Kritzinger, W.T. & Weideman, M.

Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 3-5 September. Cape Town, South Africa.

Kritzinger, W.T. & Weideman, M. 2008. Finding the synergy: search engine optimisation versus website usability. Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference on WWW Applications. 3-5 September. Cape Town, South Africa. Online: http://web-visibility.co.za/website-visibility-digital-library-seo/

ABSTRACT
The primary objective of this research project was to investigate and report on the importance of finding synergy between the concept of website visibility and website usability. A website needs to attract visitors and the website designer needs to ensure the website is visible to search engines. Websites that are not ranked highly by search engines are less likely to be visited. It is common practice for Internet users to not click through pages and pages of search results, so where a website ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic toward the website. Users tend to examine only the first page of search results and once they find a good match for their search, they normally do not look further down the results list. Most search engines display only 10 to 20 of the most relevant results on the first page. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is often used to describe acts associated with researching, submitting and positioning a website within search engines to achieve maximum exposure for a website. SEM includes search engine optimisation (SEO), paid listings and other search-engine related services and functions aimed at increasing exposure and traffic to a website. SEO is the process of improving the contents of a web page so as to offer a richer harvest to a search engine crawler. The higher a website ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that website will be visited by a user. SEO helps to ensure that a website is accessible to search engines and improves the chances that the website will be found by the search engines. Website usability focuses on what happens after users arrive on a website. Usability professionals observe what users do once they arrive on a certain page. Do the users take the desired call to action? Do the users understand what page they are viewing? Is the website easy to navigate? Website usability, therefore, can be defined as a website's user-friendliness and the extent to which users can use the information on the website to meet a specific objective. The methods employed in this project include the review of literature and secondly, an inspection of South African based websites to determine the level of visibility and usability elements implemented. Results seem to indicate that very few South African based websites have both visibility and usability elements implemented on the same web page.
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