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Mon, 6 Dec 2004 12:35:33 +1000
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Quoting Jan Meyer <[log in to unmask]>:
> Deliberate UN- Usability: make a link with the linked text NOT relevant to
> the page it goes to

Unfortunately, this is the work of SEOs - Search Engine Optimizers.  These
people can go to extraordinary lengths to devise ways to 'trick' search engines
into ranking their pages higher - often to the detriment of the design and/or
usability of the site.  As more competition grows in a particular area, so does
the work for these SEOs.

We have to look at the motivation for these people.  Most of the time, it's not
whether someone actually completes a purchase, but how many times the website or
particular page is viewed which determines how much these people will be paid.
Therefore, usability and user experience are not part of the equation.

One of the contracts I'm doing at the moment is in the accommodation sector.
It's amazing how competitive SEOs have become in this sector.  My client is
constantly having to fight smaller resellers that use its trademarked name
throughout their site (or worse, buy the rights to it and its variants from
Google AdWords).  Many of these less reputable sites also have tens to hundreds
of links on each age, pointing to search engine optimized pages, and use tricks
such as you've pointed out here (self-referential, misleading links).

It's a sad state, but since spam has been outlawed in many places now, online
marketers are finding more ways to sacrifice our experience in the name of
competing for page views.

By understanding the goals of SEOs, we can combat this 'anti-usability'.  The
company I'm working with actually has its own SEO, and I work closely with him
to make sure that what he does will not significantly reduce the user
experience.  In a number of ways, search engine optimization can actually
enhance the user experience.  Ensuring pages are coded correctly, using
structured, semantic mark-up; providing useful, supporting content on static
pages that the search engines will crawl; ensuring that cross-promotions are
relevant; etc., actually helps both sides of the fence.  It's just another facet
of design considerations that we have to be aware of.

Best regards,

Ash Donaldson
User Experience Designer

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