Posted by & filed under Accessibility and Usability, Internet History, Search Engine Optimisation.

I’ve just been revisiting some great older blog posts on some other sites, to give myself a bit of a nostagic overview of SEO.  While doing so, I re-read this one from Ian Lurie at Conversion Marketing, so I thought I’d share it all with you and cover some of the points he makes in a bit more detail.

First of all I guess I should say that I agree with every point he makes, although some of the content of the points have changed slightly in the context of what has happened in the SEO marketplace since Ian posted this.

So for now, I’ll take the first few points and hopefully explain them a little more completely than Ian did in that one post.

1) Kill Your Flash Intro!

If you have a Flash intro to your website, you are doing a number of things – annoying the user, wasting the user’s time, using you bandwidth, giving the user an opportunity to give up on your site before they’ve seen your content, and paying your designer more than you need.  What you are not doing is taking those vital first few seconds of a user’s visit to your site to engage them in what they are actually looking for.

Very few website users want to be impressed with how your website looks and behaves – that isn’t why they are visiting you – they want to buy a red widget, or subscribe to your RSS, or whatever it is that they actually visited your site for in the first place.  Let them find how to do that quickly and easily – everything else is secondary.

2) Make Your Pages Load Quickly

The speed pages load on your website is vitally important for two reasons – in fact, that is one more reason than when Ian wrote his post! If your pages take too long to load, your visitors will leave before they have finished loading, or at the very least you are slowing down their path to conversion – i.e. why they came to your site in the first place.  Slow that path down too much, and they’ll head right back out the door and go somewhere else.  The second reason, and the one that didn’t exist before, is that Google now use the perceived loading speed as a quality indicator – that is, your page load speed will potentially influence the ranking in search results pages!

3) Fix Those 404 Errors Now!

Gaining a user’s trust can be a difficult battle.  Anything your site does to reduce the user’s trust will reduce the likelihood of a website user becoming a customer, even in the future. Negative experiences stick in the mind – sometimes a potential customer can’t even remember what the negative experience was, but once you’ve created a negative experience, it can take several positive experiences to counteract the negative effect. Broken links can cause your website users to lose trust in your website.  In their eyes, if you can’t even get a link right, how can they trust that you’ll get someting complicated right, like fulfilling their order?  They might not put it quite so bluntly as that, but the negative subtle correlation is likely.

Also, broken links are bad news for SEO – you’re bleeding PageRank into non-existant URLs instead of ones that could benefit you, and you are creating a big flag for search engines that says “I don’t look after my website properly, don’t rank me so high.” Often, they oblige!

That’s your lot for this post.  I’ll tackle some more points from Ian’s wonderful information next time!

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