Usability and SEO

Sometimes the “Politics & Religion” of the Webmaster World

When you HAVE to choose between the two, do a risk-reward analysis and find out what is more important – the traffic or the conversion. I tend to go with the SEO.  Thankfully users tend to fumble through websites and don’t usually give up on you for a little usability issue, (I remember Steve Krug telling me that). But be warned–leaving obvious usability flaws can be very damaging to the ego, especially when you are walking someone through the site and all you can see is that flaw staring back at you.

me and Steve Krug
Steve Krug and I – Portland, OR (2007)

The website I was, actually still am, working on had about 250 words of text above what the consumer was really looking to be on the page– and thus crappily pushed it below the page fold.

While I would have loved to just remove the text and simply put the product beside a cool picture, testing reveled doing so would eliminate at least 50% of my traffic. After some quick calculations it was obvious fixing this somewhat small usability flaw would not increase conversions enough to make up for a 50% loss in eyeballs. Steve’s suggested I added a “find ‘product'” button within the top left corner of the text. It was hideous, but it worked.