Search engine optimization sometimes conflicts with other design goals, according to the Rimm-Kaufman Group, a search marketing and consulting firm. "A retailer's web pages must meet many different goals, and often the goals of search engine optimization conflict with other design objectives," according to Larry Becker, VP of web effectiveness at Rimm-Kaufman.
Retailers who understand their customers and how search engines work are in a better position to strike the right balance, he added. Online retailers often have to choose between high search rankings and other goals.
For example, to obtain high natural search results from a web page, the page needs text that is relevant to customer queries and rich with important key words. But to move site visitors toward conversion, the page design needs images, easy navigation and less text.
To appeal to a site's frequent customers, a web page may bypass everyday language to use its own brand specific terms. That practice, however, can leave first time visitors, as well as search engine spiders, clueless about what those terms really mean.
Therefore, search engine optimization efforts must be weighed against other considerations, Becker said. "If I think only of the search mechanics, my presentation is less likely to be compelling," he added, noting that similar conflicts may exist between optimizing a page for specific search terms on one hand, and general usability on the other.
"There's a tension between designing a bunch of 'killer' landing pages and having a coherent site that holds together and is easily navigable for the user," Becker explained. Striking the right balance, he asserted, means site owners must design the site to give a clear path to the different pieces of content that visitors want, and search engine spiders seek.
"No matter who or what you are designing for, each page needs to sensibly link to its cousins and give the users, or the search engine spider, cues as to how the site as a whole is organized," he said. Adjusting search engine optimization to other goals in designing web pages is easier when site owners know their customers and what motivates them.
"If I understand the goals of the different personas shopping the site, the relative size of the groups each represents, and how each of these groups thinks about my product and offer, then I am in a decent position to create pages and site sections that will resonate and get a sale," he concluded.
Information in this article was edited from a story in Internet Retailer.
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