Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nine factors that affect your website usability

Optimizing web pages for search engines does not mean creating special pages for search engines. Optimizing web pages for search engines is often the same as optimizing web pages for web surfers.

If you do it correctly, your website will be attractive to both web surfers and search engine spiders. The following list shows nine factors that can improve the usability of your website as well as your search engine rankings.

1. You should have fast loading web pages
Usability: Web surfers don't want to wait for web pages.
Search engine optimization: Search engines can index your web pages more easily.

2. Your web pages should be easy to read
Usability: It's easier for web surfers to read your web pages.
Search engine optimization: Near-white text on a white background and tiny text is considered spam by most search engines.

3. The contents of your web pages should be clearly arranged
Usability: Clear headings, paragraphs and bullet lists make your web pages easier to read.
Search engine optimization: Clear headings, paragraphs and bullet lists make it easier for search engines to find the topic of your web pages.

4. Your web page images should use the IMG ALT attribute
Usability: Web surfers with images turned off and visually impaired visitors will be able to see the content of your images.
Search engine optimization: Search engines cannot index the content of your images but they can index the content of the IMG ALT attribute.

5. You should use custom 404 not found error pages
Usability: If your 404 not found page contains links to other pages of your website or a search form then people might remain on your website.
Search engine optimization: Proper 404 error pages make sure that search engines index the right pages of your website.

6. Your website should be easy to navigate
Usability: Clear and concise navigation links that are easy to find help your website visitors to find content on your site.
Search engine optimization: Clear and concise navigation links that contain your keywords make it easy for search engines to index all of your web pages.

7. Important content is above the fold
Usability: Web surfers with small computer screens can quickly see what your web page is about.
Search engine optimization: The sooner your important content appears in the HTML code of your web pages, the more likely it is that it will be indexed by search engines.

8. Your web page titles are explanatory
Usability: If web surfers bookmark your web pages, a clear web page title will help them to find it again.
Search engine optimization: The web page title is one of the most important SEO elements. It should contain your keywords and it should look attractive so that web surfers click on it when they see your web page title in the search results.

9. The URLs of your web pages are meaningful and self-explanatory
Usability: It's much easier to remember a web page like than a web page like
Search engine optimization: If your URLs contain your keywords, this can have a positive effect on your search engine rankings. Dynamic URLs with many variables can lead to problems with search engine spiders.

There are many more factors that influence the position of your website in Google's search results.

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