Understanding Search Usability

The term “search usability” is widely misunderstood throughout a variety of industries: Web design/development, search engine marketing (SEM), online advertising, information sciences, human-computer interface (HCI), and usability industries. Even the term “usability” is misunderstood by search professionals.Every time I hear an SEO professional claim that his or her firm implements web site usability best practices, I wait to hear about the formative and summative usability tests performed. And I wait… and I wait… and I wait… and I wait. Then I go about my daily business because I will wait forever.

In my opinion, the vast majority of SEO professionals do not give a hoot about user-centered design (UCD), or, more accurately, usage-centered design. Nevertheless, they use these terms during a sales pitch or a conference presentation because it sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?

In today’s article, I hope to dispel some of the common misconceptions about search usability, and to show how important search usability is to the SEM industry.

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