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Original Research

Fusing website usability and search engine optimisation

Eugene B. Visser, Melius Weideman

SA Journal of Information Management; Vol 16, No 1 (2014), 9 pages. doi: 10.4102/sajim.v16i1.577

Submitted: 12 May 2013
Published:  14 March 2014


Background: Most websites, especially those with a commercial orientation, need a high ranking on a search engine for one or more keywords or phrases. The search engine optimisation process attempts to achieve this. Furthermore, website users expect easy navigation, interaction and transactional ability. The application of website usability principles attempts to achieve this. Ideally, designers should achieve both goals when they design websites.

Objectives: This research intended to establish a relationship between search engine optimisation and website usability in order to guide the industry. The authors found a discrepancy between the perceived roles of search engines and website usability.

Method: The authors designed three test websites. Each had different combinations of usability, visibility and other attributes. They recorded and analysed the conversions and financial spending on these experimental websites. Finally, they designed a model that fuses search engine optimisation and website usability.

Results: Initially, it seemed that website usability and search engine optimisation complemented each other. However, some contradictions between the two, based on content, keywords and their presentation, emerged. Industry experts do not acknowledge these contradictions, although they agree on the existence of the individual elements. The new model highlights the complementary and contradictory aspects.

Conclusion: The authors found no evidence of any previous empirical experimental results that could confirm or refute the role of the model. In the fast-paced world of competition between commercial websites, this adds value and originality to the websites of organisations whose websites play important roles.

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Author affiliations

Eugene B. Visser, Purple Cow Communications, Cape Town, South Africa
Melius Weideman, Website Attributes Research Centre, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa


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