SEO Industry Directs Attention to Usability

Bruce Clay Inc. hosted a Twitter Chat, #SEOChat, called “The UX Force Awakens”, where Cre8asiteforums founder and administrator, Kim Krause Berg, was invited by Bruce Clay moderators.

We were also delighted to have Kim Krause Berg — the veritable UX whisperer — join us for the chat.

— Source: What Is UX? Who Owns User Experience Optimization? What You Need to Know About SEO & User Satisfaction from #SEOchat

At long last, online marketers are taking user experience seriously and more importantly, are interested in understanding what, exactly, usability is.

Cre8asiteforums, launched in 1998, is the first forums for search engine marketers, website owners, and web developers to host a usability forum. It’s founder, Kim Krause Berg, already established as an SEO, crossed the bridge to usability and accessibility in 2000. At that time, and for the next decade, the number of SEO’s wanting usability site audits for their clients could be counted on one hand, from around the globe.

Today, there are two hands worth.
Just kidding.

Three hands.

Usability is referred to by some internet marketers as “conversions”, or “customer experience”, thus ignoring what usability is. The result? Websites that fail to perform will also fail to convert.

“I was pleased to see that many SEOs place a high value on user experience for all devices, and that they understood why … I’m thrilled that Bruce Clay, Inc. is educating people on UX,” Berg said post-chat. “UX is HUGE … it includes empathy for every human, using every device and every software application and every search engine wanting to provide what humans want, in every environment, with an understanding of the limitations of age, bandwidth, Internet availability, use cases and business requirements specific to one’s business or web page intent.”

Do SEO’s Understand UX?

Screenshot from article on SEOChatDo you? Here is a transcript of the entire discussion, Summary: The UX Force Awakens on #SEOchat.

Cre8asiteforums Thread – #seochat Twitter Discussion With Bruce Clay On Usability

Cre8asiteforums: 17 Years From Club to Online Community

In the 1990’s, the wild world wide web was the stomping ground for anyone who fell in love with the possibilities the Internet provided.  The whole world was just a modem screech away.

I was one of those crazy people who wanted to learn everything possible about the world and its people.  To get on the Internet meant a long distance phone call to a town hooked into AOL.  Every minute I spent learning how to make web pages in those days racked up my phone bill, but I was in love with the gray lifeless backgrounds, tables with cell padding, AOL chat rooms and the email discussion lists I joined, and soon, moderated.  To learn everything about the world and its people meant figuring how to communicate with a keyboard.

My 286 PC grew to 386 and then 486 RAM.  I had stacks of floppy disks, with clipart and documents.  The computer was installed in the kitchen near the telephone line. Still using WordPerfect, I earned a tiny income typing for people and saving their documents on small disks.  I made my first websites in 1995, and got my first job as a webmaster in 1996.

I was also a newly divorced mother of 3 and 7 year old children, who had not worked in 3 years. The divorce was mediated.  We wrote our own divorce agreement and I typed it up for the lawyer who represented both of us.  I declined alimony and child support, moved into a small condo near my ex-husband, and we co-parented our kids so well that most people had no idea were not married.

Determined. Stubborn. Scared sometimes.  Often broke.  I couldn’t afford beds for the kids.  I went without stuff.  It was a time where few people understand why I insisted on being independent.  I kept my personal troubles as private as I could.  Meanwhile, I worked full-time to pay for daycare, and when the kids were in bed, I freelanced in SEO and taught myself how to make better websites.

cb4

It was in those dark days of struggle that I launched the Cre8pc Website Promotion Club to teach SEO online and use my skills as an online community moderator.  I co-moderated another club for small businesses too.  It was 1998.  It would be 2 more years before I got my dream job as a User Interface Engineer with a salary that let me move forward and provide better for myself and kids.  I still freelanced in SEO and had some famous clients.  The Cre8pc club became the Cre8asite Group in Yahoo and by then Bill Slawski was a moderator there.

By the year 2002, I was cross trained in software QA testing and human factors, freelancing in SEO, and had attracted friends like Ammon Johns and Jill Whalen who, along with Bill, helped me move the Cre8asite Group to a new server, with genuine online community software.  In August 2002, Cre8asiteforums was launched with its core group of members like Adrian Lee and soon, Diane Vigil, Peter DaVanzo, Sophie Wegat, Ruud Heim, and Dave Childs.  It was the first online marketing community to discuss and teach website usability and accessibility. Jill Whalen enjoyed the experience so much she decided to start her own forums under her own brand.  For years, HighRankings Forums and Cre8asiteforums shared moderators, members and friendship.

The year 2002 was also when I was laid-off from my dream job and was picked up as a sub-contractor by AT&T Worldnet  within 6 hours of leaving the building, thanks to two of my mentors from the 1990’s who watched me grow and wanted to not only match my previous salary, but increase it.  I have been a consultant ever since.

Old Logo

Cre8asiteforums was acquired by Internet Marketing Ninjas in the fall of 2012.  It joined the ranks of WebmasterWorld and SEOchat as a desired online community worthy of investment.  I was retained to continue as Administrator for Cre8asiteforums.  The community boasts members, moderators and administrators who are now famous in their industries.  We gave up Pierre Far and John Mu to Google.  Rand Fishkin, Ammon Johns, Chris Winfield, Donna Fontenot, Barry Schwartz and Miriam Ellis, to name a few, run their own companies.  Joe Dolson is my long-time mentor on accessibility and today devotes time to improving WordPress software and application development.  Some folks, like Barry Welford, Ron Carnell, Tamsin Stone, Stock Truslow and Elizabeth Able, have been steadfast supporters long past their years as moderators.  They still stop by and contribute, along with many others who have never left and continue to provide assistance to members who need it.

forums 2002

Today, Cre8asiteforums is a community that manages itself, with some input from myself and my mysterious friend, “iamlost”.  I refer to the community members as “professors” and “brainaics”.  They are inquisitive, curious, love to test theories and debunk myths.  We have a private area for long-timers called LABS, the brainchild of a member, and the Rookie Room, at the suggestion of another member.

If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that anything is possible if you want it badly enough.  I wanted to meet people and learn everything I could about website design and online marketing.  After 17 years, that desire has never changed.

Take a bow Cre8asiteforums Community.  Congratulations and thank you.

 

Cre8asiteforums Staff Reunion Held

On August 11, 2015, Ammon Johns and Bill Slawski hosted a reunion on their Google Plus Bill and Ammon’s Bogus Hangout for anyone who was part of the early days of Cre8asiteforums.

Bill and Ammons HangoutAlthough launched in 1998, Cre8asiteforums stepped into the official limelight as a recognized forums when it was moved to a new server and more supportive software on August 30, 2002.  The move was encouraged by Administrators Ammon, Bill and Jill Whalen. More staff was needed and during the next decade, most of the now well-known people in the search engine marketing industry passed through Cre8asiteforums in the role of Moderator, Technical Administrator, Administrator or active participant. Archives remain available with participation from Pierre Far, John Mu, Miriam Ellis, Rand Fishkin, Ron Carnell and many more honorable mentions.

While Cre8asiteforums was and continues as one of the smaller online forums, it was the first to introduce holistic practices for website design and online marketing.  Usability and accessibility were shunned by the SEO industry as a non-essential part of website ownership, but Cre8asiteforums held fast to the notion that users will remain on an ugly website no matter how many SEO tricks are thrown at it.

Online communities in the 1990’s were how people learned what they needed to know.  They preceded books and online courses, blogs and articles.  The better mentors were those who tested theories, software and practices to be sure they truly worked before being promoted.  The willingness to fight back against the charlatans and stand up to potentially harmful tools was Ammon Johns’ legacy as the “Black Knight”.  Active in many communities, he joined Cre8asiteforums to help create its foundation as a reputable community.

Bill Slawski, aka “braggadocio”, had established himself as the patient, long-winded wisdom teacher who when asked a question, proceeded to create a virtual lecture hall where his way of describing difficult concepts were a cherished favorite among the community.  The success of the forums led to Jill Whalen’s desire to launch her own HighRankings forum. It attracted Diane Vigil, from Jim’s World, who after he passed away, arrived to Cre8asiteforums to bring her experience and knowledge of forums management.  At one point in the early years, Technical Administrator Stock Truslow aka “Grumpus” built a directory website at Cre8asite.net intended to create, hold and maintain the abundance of accurate information culled from the forums as opposed to the growing volume of incorrect and misleading stories and articles.

Yesterday’s reunion attracted past Technical Administrators Adrian Lee and Joe Dolson, as well as past Moderators and community members who remembered the old days of Cre8asiteforums.   The discussion continued 1.5 hours beyond the live show.

You can watch the entire show here 

Discussion –  Ammon And Bill Invite Cre8Asiteforums To Hangout Show

Cre8asiteforums was acquired by Jim Boykin on October 1, 2012 and continues to be owned and maintained by Internet Marketing Ninjas.

SEO Is Not SEO Anymore

There is a shake-up in the SEO industry that, like climate change and dieting, has its non-believers and some practitioners in denial. The headline is not that “SEO is Dead”, but “SEO is Not SEO Anymore”.

Gorilla facing camera

Search engine marketing practices have changed over the past 20 years.  What has not changed is how SEO’s battle one another over the details.  Since the first instructions about how rank by doing mathematical equations or how to optimize for 125 search terms first began, the industry has been a showcase of ego’s and maniacal hissy fits with gorilla chest thumping, making for a yearly spectacle and rousing bar conversations at each annual Pubcon.  In other words, search marketers are a fun bunch.  And they can be…well, see for yourself.

A member of the WebmasterWorld forums drafted 2015 Google On-page SEO Ranking Factors List” where he writes:

I want to split off on-page from off-page and discuss solely on-page ranking factors, including the deprecated factors. What’s your list of important on-page factors and those that are less important?

2015 Ranking factors
User experience metrics (all of them)
Shorter title tags
Original content
Engaging content that provides an answer, teaches, informs, is useful, delights
Original images
Quality site design
Descriptive meta description

 

Deprecated
Keywords
Focus on long tail phrases
Focus on ranking for specific keyword phrases
Lean code

The responses were delightfully thoughtful and descriptive at WMW with some asking what the first item on the list meant. (I wondered too.)

Barry Schwartz reported the discussion  at Search Engine Roundtable.  For reporting on the WMW thread (as he has been doing for many years), he was hit with 61 comments (last I checked), the vast majority of them negative and argumentative with a dash of chest thumping.

What a load of old tripe – seriously. It’s making me sick to death with the amount of blithering idiots ‘thinking’ or using ‘IMO’ – everyone thinks that they’re a bloody SEO experts.

Most of this is a no brainer and the rest is just nonsense. UX is not a factor for ranking aside from with mobile or in the event sections of the site are hidden or the site is not mobile friendly. So “Quality Site Design” is wrong based on Google’s own admission with few exceptions.

 

Note To Clients: DO NOT HIRE the SEO FIRM who made this list. You will not rank well!

SEO’s can be counted on to show their true colors.  That has never changed.  Every community is different of course.  Cre8asiteforums looked into the WMW list too, in  Your Choices For Search Engine On-Page Seo Ranking Factors

If you go look at the “factors” that SEOs talk about in these surveys, you see very little mention of how visitors behave on the site.  Things like page views, amount of time spent, scroll depth, bookmarking, bounce rate are almost absent in the things that SEOs say are important.  They must be nuts.

 

Nevertheless, I finally buckled down and scoured through the manual that Google gives its human quality raters. An eyebrow raising read for sure! But IMO, much more thorough and meaningful than what’s being published on those types of SEO and webmaster sites. I figure, if I’m going to appease to humans, I’d better learn what humans (and not algorithms) look for.

As an “insider”, I listen to a lot of industry folks who talk about their work and companies.  What they are sharing with me are stories of leaving the business because they are no longer doing what they were trained to do because search technology has changed and the work itself is, to put it in simple terms, no longer any fun to do.

The Thrill is Gone. All Hail Google.

SEO audits and website monitoring have become narrowly focused on just one search engine and the work is only about trying to stay out of trouble with that one search engine.  Nobody is doing search engine optimization anymore.  They are doing Google search optimization.

Internet marketers struggle to see a future for the work they do because SEO used to be about optimizing for countless directories and many search engines.  Hence the term “search engine optimization”.  Before that, it was called “website promotion” in the 1990’s, because that was what companies with websites wanted done in directories and search engines.  Social media marketing, as an industry term, didn’t exist back then either, but the pioneers from those days will tell you that in fact, they were doing social marketing in forums, chat rooms, email lists, newsletters and places like Egroups and AOL clubs.

Yes, there is work out there for companies with money to blow and consultants with patience on hand to help websites crippled and damaged by past search engine marketing and web design practices that broke their champion site down after the third race. Winning at all costs is what humans do, creating industries of rescue workers.  This is another reason why some SEO’s are moving on.  They see no future in rescuing websites or they hate that they have to.

SEO is not it anymore.  Or is it simply a case of an industry in the middle of change, learning to adapt?

 

 

 

10 Free Must-Have Design, Video, Email, Accessibility Tools and Plug-Ins

The best  web development and Internet tools are easy to use, save us time, provide valuable information in terms we understand and free. Here are some favorites:

1. Web Developer Extension for Chrome is a must-have.

2. Google Page Speed Insights

3. WP Accessibility . WP Accessibility provides fixes for common accessibility issues in your WordPress site. Learn more about the importance of WP Accessibility from its developer.

4. WP Post Styling. This plugin provides a custom field on your WordPress interface where you can add custom styles to be applied only on that page or post. Useful for being able to publish articles with a unique look.

5. Http Status Code Checker. Here are more free webmaster tools.

6. Cre8asiteforms Web Page Size Lookup

7. Create your own Favicon with the Cre8asiteforums Favicon Tool

8. Mobile emulator tool by Keynote MITE. This robust, free tool provides access to hundreds (free), thousands (enterprise) mobile devices for performance testing.

9. The free Color Contrast Comparison is a strong favorite for checking color contrasts during web design.

10. This one is three bonus recommendations.

PakWired’s 3 UX Design Tips Startups Can Implement Today

I like to use the same concept throughout my designs: display what you need to display, don’t leave out anything important, focus attention on places you want your users to be drawn to, without spamming them with ads and “buy” buttons.

3 of Deborah’s Favorite Obscure {but valuable!} Free Video Resources

For those of us in the video industry, finding resources can be addicting. I love tools. I love ebooks. I shouldn’t tell you this, but basically if it has the word “Video” in it, I’m pulling out the credit card. In my quest, I always welcome freebies, as well. Today I’m going to share three resources, two of which do not have nearly the buzz they deserve, when compared to the value of their resources.

and

Smarter Outreach: 3 Tools to See Who’s Behind Each Email

Today’s social networking world is overwhelming: You meet people online, talk to them, lose them for a month or two, then find them again. There should be better ways to keep up than trying to remember everything!