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"For your website to meet your goals, you need to work the usability angle (make it easy to use) and the search engine optimization angle (make sure people can find the info you have). This great book shows you how these two work together."

--Susan Weinschenk, Chief of UX Strategy, Human Factors International

Frequently asked questions

To get answers to frequent questions about our book, When Search Meets Web Usability, and the search usability™ expert reviews, website usability services, and search engine optimization (SEO) services we provide, please select one of the links below:

What is the book about?

When Search Meets Usability is a book that unites the fields of search engine optimization (SEO) and website usability.

The book teaches web designers and developers, SEO professionals, information architects, and usability professionals how to successfully accommodate searcher behaviors on websites, resulting in a positive search experience and, ultimately, a positive user experience.

Some of the things you will learn in When Search Meets Web Usability include:

  • When Google wants your site to be #1...and when it doesn't
  • How and why people use web search
  • Where the web search engines get information to include in search listings
  • What makes people click on a search listing
  • How to increase sales and conversions by creating a better search experience

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Who should read this book?

Anyone who is involved in creating and maintaining websites should read this book, including but not limited to:

  • Website usability professionals: You will find usability practices and usability tests you are already familiar with used to improve how users find websites when using search engines. Most importantly, you will see how users query and how to use the users’ language from an SEO perspective.

  • SEO professionals: If you are new to SEO, you will get a perspective that goes beyond the cat-and-mouse game between SEO and search engines that is frequently talked about in other SEO books and websites. For the seasoned professional, this book will serve to bridge the gap between search and usability.

  • Information architects: Similar to usability professionals, you will find concepts and language with which you are familiar. What you will find is that by modifying your current practices by integrating SEO best practices, you will increase your search engine visibility and make your content more easily findable from a variety of entry points.

  • Web designers and developers: Designers and developers will benefit from broadening their knowledge base and website vocabulary enabling them to influence business results as they perform their daily jobs. Most importantly, you will see the part everyday elements (X)HTML page elements like title tags and URL plays in SEO and web usability. .

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How is this book different from other search engine optimization (SEO) and website usability books?

Many people mistakenly believe that search engine optimization is an online marketing strategy where a website is optimized for search engines only. Unfortunately, too many books and articles have been written from this perspective.

We believe that search engine optimization (SEO) is optimizing a website for people who use search engines, not optimizing for search engines only.

That is where When Search Meets Web Usability is different. We have always believed (since 1995) that search engine optimization is optimizing a website for people who use search engines. The fact is that Google will not spend thousands or millions of dollars on the products and services your website offers -- but your target audience will.

Unfortunately, there are few SEOs who truly understand web usability and just as few usability professionals that truly understand SEO. This in itself is not a problem. The problem is that this gap in cross-discipline knowledge results in a poor experience for users and lost revenue for businesses.

Both Shari Thurow and Nick Musica have one foot in the world SEO and the other in web usability. Shari has been optimizing websites since 1995 and is a world-renowned expert in the area of search-engine friendly website design and search usability. Her educational background is in Library and Information Sciences, with a specialty in human/computer interfaces (HCI). Nick is a Certified Usability Analyst (CUA), and they have a combined experience of over 10 years in the field of website usability.

Every site they work on incorporates the both SEO and web usability during the initial stages of web design development, mitigating lost revenue and improving the user experience.

What is the scent of information?

On a website, the scent of information consists of textual and graphical cues that:

  • Facilitate clear navigation (where can I go)
  • Allow for quick orientation (where am I) and
  • Communicate content value (should I click on this link)

The scent of information originates with the user before they even type in the search field of the search engine. It starts with how they think and feel about your product, service or brand. This is commonly referred to in the usability field as a user’s mental model. This mental model will dictate what users searches for and how they search. It should also dictate how you design your site.

If you aren’t matching your user’s mental model, chances you are losing revenue, as your users probably aren’t finding your valuable content.

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What is search usability?

On the web, search usability refers to how easily users can locate and discover content on a website via retrieval (searching/querying) and navigation (browsing). It also refers to users' level of satisfaction as they discover or locate their desired content.

Like the term search engine optimization, the term search usability is commonly misunderstood by SEO professionals and usability professionals alike.

Many SEO professionals do not have a full understanding of the fields of usability, user-centered design (UCD), and usage-centered design. They read books by noted usability professionals such as Jakob Nielsen and Jared Spool (which are outstanding books) but neglect to test their websites on the very people who will be using their websites. This could easily lead to confidence in a website which was pieced together with misapplied usability best practices and results in a site lacking in usability, despite the good intentions.

On the flip side, usability professionals often view the term search usability only in the context of a site search engine: the accuracy of search results, how search listings are displayed, and so forth. This perspective is limited because people discover and locate content using a wide variety of different finding behaviors not taken into account by usability professionals -- many of which begin on a search engine where most users begin their web sessions.

By combining the strengths of website usability and SEO, you can improve the search usability of your website and improve the company’s bottom line.

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Where can I buy When Search Meets Web Usability?

You can buy this book at a variety of online stores. One of our favorites is Amazon.

What type of services do you provide?

Nick and Shari are experienced professionals in search engine optimization (SEO), website usability, information architecture (IA), and web design and have trained companies worldwide on these services. To view details about our web services, please visit our services page.

If you would like Nick or Shari to speak at one of your events, please fill out our contact form.

For more information about our search usability™ expert reviews, website usability services, and search engine optimization (SEO) services, please fill out our contact form or call us at 847-426-4256.

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