SpoolCast: When Search Meets Web Usability Q&A with Shari Thurow

Sean Carmichael

February 9th, 2011

Duration: 37m | 19 MB
Recorded: April, 2010
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How do you bridge the gap between the search engine and your site? You want that transition to be as smooth and natural for your users as possible. Ideally, they would start with their search, arrive at your site, and accomplish what they set out to do. Often times, it doesn’t work out that easily. How do you increase conversions, satisfaction, and your users’ success? Shari Thurow offers techniques and tricks to satisfy the goals of your users.

Shari is the Founder and SEO Director of Omni Marketing Interactive. She has written two books, Search Engine Visibility and When Search Meets Web Usability, which is also the title of her Virtual Seminar. We ran out of time during the seminar to answer all of the questions. Today we are bringing you the follow up podcast with Shari and Jared Spool as they go over those questions.

Here’s an excerpt from the podcast.

“…The problem with a home page is that a lot of website designers think that the purpose of the home page is to look pretty. The purpose of a home page is really to act as a table of contents to a website, focusing users on the areas of the site that are most important to you as a business owner and also helping them accomplish their desired tasks. Do they need to log in? You should supply a nice log in area.

We also find that, on the home page, there’s another area where people skip the big, honking graphic image. They’re looking for the text, because a home page is a means to an end. People don’t go to a home page and accomplish their task on a website on a home page. They’re actually trying to go to a product page, a service page, or an article page. That’s what they’re doing to accomplish their tasks. So, I think big, color photographs on the home page tend not to be a good design.

We found that the same photographs just scaled down with a little more text to get people to go to certain sections of the website actually performed better. A hundred percent of the users that we tested were able to complete the task. But, the one with the big, honking, graphic images, only 14 percent of the people completed their desired tasks…”

Tune in to the podcast to hear Shari address these questions and more:

  • Can you optimize Flash content?
  • Is there a need to optimize for all search engines or to pick one specifically to optimize for?
  • Are there any advantages to presenting headings as images with alternative text?
  • Would repeating a call to action at the top and bottom of a page make search engine bots suspicious of spamming?

As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments. Please share in our comments section.

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