Friday, April 21, 2006

Search Engine Optimization More Important Than Navigation Optimization? The Experts Reply

On the priorities of search engine optimization and site navigation...

"Is optimizing site navigation become more important than search engine optimization? Does the increased use of major search engines affect the way we should design the content and navigation of our web pages?

Prentice Hall Professional, in an article of last October entitled "The Search Lurch: Have We Become Lazy Googlers or Smarter Web Researchers?" asked four highly accredited online search and web usability professionals Jakob Nielsen, Jesse James Garret, Gerry McGovern and Tara Calishain, their thoughts on "how our search habits are changing Web culture and even changing the way Web sites are being designed and maintained."

The questions presented to these experts focused on understanding whether the increased use of search engines as the fastest means to get to any information seeked should influence and modify the way contents and navigation elements inside web pages are designed.

Without looking at the answers provided by my much more qualified colleagues, I felt compelled to contribute and extend their interesting conversation by providing my own views and recommendations for online publishers curious to learn where to place their limited resources next.

These the questions:

1) As the power and influence of search engines such as Google increase, will Web users bother going to homepages and trying to figure out each site's navigation scheme? Or with our increasingly shortened attention spans and demands on our time, will we just Google everything?

2) Do you think it's futile for site designers and information architects to struggle with developing effective navigation schemes for their sites? In other words, is search engine optimization becoming more important than navigation optimization?"   continued ...   (Via Robin Good)


Anonymous Shari Thurow said...

Dear Robin-

I believe that your post is an honest misconception. For some reason, many usability professionals have come to believe that search engine optimization (or information retrieval optimization) and Web site usability are at odds with one another. When in fact, they are not.

Site navigation and relevant cross-linking are a major means of giving commercial Web search engines access to content. If site navigation and cross-linking are done well (usability tested, both summative and formative), then both search engines AND end users have an easy time accessing content. Additionally, if a site has its own search engine, then its search results will be accurate as well.

With all due respect, I believe you are asking usability professionals who have very limited knowledge of search engine optimization and plenty of misconceptions.

I understand that there are many, many "snake-oil" search engine optimization professionals out there. However, there are those (like myself) who have formal education and experience in usability and human/computer interfaces who do not exploit the Web search engines.

Though I have to admit, I am quite curious at what the others have to say. And I certainly mean no disrespect to the others. Their books are already a part of my personal library.

9:10 AM  

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