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Smashing SIlos: UX is the New SEO


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This presentation hopes to illuminate how Search, Content Strategy, Information Architecture, User Experience, Interaction Design can break down silos to take back relevance. Because, in the end, we, the people, should be the arbiters of experience, not machines and certainly not math.

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Smashing SIlos: UX is the New SEO

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  3. 3. I work at Portent where I am lucky to work with smart people (and not just because they help me with Excel). 3
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  5. 5. Funniest part: seeing IAs using the Toni Braxton store as an orientation point to find the conference venue Not-best-part: Getting locked out of my room in a 5000+ room hotel and having to wait, wait, wait for someone to come and let me back in. Best Part: getting called out by Rashmi Sinha in closing plenary for the call to action of broadening scope to include search optimization Some time after: Peter Morville comes up with “findability” and Lou Rosenfeld starts his Search Metrics workshops. This isn’t what I meant. 5
  6. 6. 6 Click Distance: the further from an authority page, the less important it must be URL Depth: the further from the homepage, the less important it must be
  7. 7. Dense, subject-specific content is what is indexed people will scroll if they don't scroll, they will print it out 7
  8. 8. 8 Search technology will reward relationship navigation (everything else is considered nepotistic) Architecture should extend from the Web to the site to the page We can and should influence the technology to work for not against user What Did we Pick?
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  11. 11. More images More linked text Sidebar navigation accompanies Global navigation Yahoo becomes busier, more categories, international sites 11
  12. 12. Debut of Google Apple capitalizes on new search technology with more heavily “designed” look 12
  13. 13. Wi-Fi introduced Navigation dominates as Microsoft tries to show more than just the tip of the iceberg. 5 separate systems: Global, left rail, right rail (2 components) and hero content. 13
  14. 14. Broadband introduced Discovers mental models and moves global navigation to the top of the page 14
  15. 15. Broad band comes into its own and BIG pictures make a splash Google issues first IPO, gets buckets of cash, starts building out semantic reasoning algorithms Facebook comes on the scene 15
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  17. 17. Twitter and iPhone come on the scene 17
  18. 18. Why Google started moving away from link-based relevance Vince update favors brands for search engine results 18
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  24. 24. I have presented at 2 UXPA DC UserFocus conferences Bird Bears Bs of Discoverability (well attended sessions) 24
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  27. 27. Pew Internet Trust Study of Search engine behavior findings.aspx In January 2002, 52% of all Americans used search engines. In February 2012 that figure grew to 73% of all Americans. On any given day in early 2012, more than half of adults using the internet use a search engine (59%). That is double the 30% of internet users who were using search engines on a typical day in 2004. And people’s frequency of using search engines has jumped dramatically. Moreover, users report generally good outcomes and relatively high confidence in the capabilities of search engines: 91% of search engine users say they always or most of the time find the information they are seeking when they use search engines 73% of search engine users say that most or all the information they find as they use search engines is accurate and trustworthy 66% of search engine users say search engines are a fair and unbiased source of information 55% of search engine users say that, in their experience, the quality of search results is getting better over time, while just 4% say it has gotten worse 52% of search engine users say search engine results have gotten more relevant and useful over time, while just 7% report that results have gotten less relevant 27
  28. 28. Pew Internet Trust Study of Search engine behavior findings.aspx 28
  29. 29. Using the Internet: Skill Related Problems in User Online Behavior; van Deursen & van Dijk; 2009 29
  30. 30. We know that users miss a lot of what we give them 30
  31. 31. And Google’s response… 31
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  33. 33. User profile phases 1. Gather raw information 2. Construct profile from user data 3. Allow application to exploit profile to construct personal results Keywords profiles represent areas of interest Extracted from documents or directly provided by user, weights are numerical representation of user interest Polysemy is a big problem for KW profiles Semantic networks Filtering system Network of concepts – unlinked nodes with each node representing a discrete concept Used by alta vista (used header that represented user personal data, set of stereotypes (prototypical user comprised of a set of interests represented by a frame of slots Each “slot” (made up of domain, topic & weight (domain =area of interest, topic = specific term used to identify area of interest, weight = degree of interest) that makes up frame weighted for relevance 33
  34. 34. Jaime Teevan MS Research ( pdf) Maximum precision: 58% Advantages: more data, better data (easier for system to consume and rationalize) Disadvantage: user has no control over what is collected Software agents: most reliable as more control over install and application Cookies: least invasive Login: more pervasive across machines and time Proxy Servers: limited to user register of machine with server Session IDs: limited to a single session 34
  35. 35. Maximum precision: 63% Advantage: User has more control over personal and private information Disadvantage: compliance, users have a hard time expressing interests, burdensome on user to fill out forms, false info from user 35
  36. 36. Personalization of results They Tracks: What is selected, Level of interaction, What is not-done (bounce rate) and use Signals: Location. Search history Dynamic query suggestions - displayed as searcher enters query Calculation of information from 3 sources User: previous search patterns Domain: countries, cultures, personalities GeoPersonalization: location-based results Metrics used for probability modeling on future searches Active: user actions in time Passive: user toolbar information (bookmarks), desktop information (files), IP location, cookies In 2002, Google acquired personalization technology Kaltix and founder Sep Kamver who has been head of Google personalization since Defines personalization: “product that can use information given by the user to provide tailored, more individualized experience” Personalization enables shorter, less specific queries set to change user behavior (easier, more natural queries) = search shorthand Tied direct user interaction with results (ability to promote/demote in results set, add comment) discontinued because too noisy & interest did not always equal searching for topic and used by SEO community for other purposes Only enable if signed in Only impacted future searches (if signed in) T 36
  37. 37. Vince update 2009 Should-Be-Talking-About Big brands can afford better sites Big brands spend more $$ in adwords “The internet is fast becoming a "cesspool" where false information thrives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday. Speaking with an audience of magazine executives visiting the Google campus here as part of their annual industry conference, he said their brands were increasingly important signals that content can be trusted. …Brands are the solution, not the problem," Mr. Schmidt said. "Brands are how you sort out the cesspool….Brand affinity is clearly hard wired," he said. "It is so fundamental to human existence that it's not going away. It must have a genetic component.” Eric Schmidt, Google, October 2008 37
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  39. 39. Google does not care about UX (just look at android) Like it or not, part of Google’s evil strategy in selecting the UX community is because they think that we have our heads in the clouds. 39
  40. 40. Douglas Bowman on leaving as head of Google Visual Design (2009) Tested 41 shades of blue Debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. 40
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  44. 44. Better discovery process levering Soft System Methodology (Peter Checkland) CATWOE Customers (internal and external) Actors Transform World View Owner Environment 44
  45. 45. If machines are methodical, as we’ve seen, and people are emotional, as we experience, where is the middle ground? Are we working harder to really find what we need or just taking what we get and calling it what we wanted in the first place? Google Patents Improving Search using Population Information (November 2008) Rendering Context Sensitive Ads for Multi-topic searchers (April 2008) Presentation of Local Results (July 2008) Detecting Novel Content (November 2008) Document Scoring based on Document Content Update (May 2007) Document Scoring based on Link-based Criteria (April 2007) Microsoft: Patents Launches “decision engine” with focus on multiple meaning (contexts) as well as term indexing and topic association and tracking Lead researcher Susan Dumais at the forefront of user behavior for prediction on search relevance Look to recent acquisition of Powerset (semantic indexing) and FAST ESP (semantic processing) Calculating Valence of Expressions within Docum0ents for Searching a Document Index (March 2009): System for natural language search and sentiment analysis through a breakdown of the valence manipulation in document Efficiently Representing Word Sense Probabilities (April 2009): Word sense probabilities stored in a semantic index and mapped to “buckets.” Tracking Storylines Around a Query (May 2008): Employ probabilistic or spectral techniques to discover themes within documents delivered over a stream of time Compares the query with the contents of each document to discover whether query exists implicitly or explicitly in received document Builds topic models Consolidate the plurality of info around certain subjects (track stories that continue over time) Collect results over time and sort (keeps track of the current themes and alerts to new) Track Rank (relevance) Present abstracts 45
  46. 46. Answered for us and the client Would this become the first deliverable after signing? Precipitate the client questionnaire? 46
  47. 47. Search Metrics SEO Correlation factors 2013 Spearman Correlation – study of google result Keywords in title should be placed as close to front as possible 47
  48. 48. Users look to search engines for guidance. We can provide similar guidance with user controls Tools Suggestions as query is entered At page search box On search page Spell check/correction Best Bets Augment Search results with: Awards Display PageRank score Sharing User Ratings 48
  49. 49. Jared Spool did a site search study some time ago that found users successful 37% of the time when using site search and 50+% of the time when navigating Users don’t like navigation at the outset but will use it if contextual and in a form that they can influence Buzzallions: Top Ranked, Bottom Ranked, Most Reviewed, Price: Low to High, Price: High to Low Always have opportunity to clear selections, return to original state Tools Facets Filters More Like This… 49
  50. 50. Remember that most of the site visitors do not come through the home page. 50
  51. 51. A descriptive, keyword-rich page title brings strong relevance weight to the page. Page title is the most important metadata field. It should always include the company name. It must map to the page content; you can’t just stuff irrelevant keywords in there. It does not appear ON the page [that is and <h1> tagged element within the <body> tags. And, NO copy and paste please! 51
  52. 52. Description may not have the favored status of <title>. Its importance comes in another form, helping the user to decide if they want to click through to the destination page. One of the not-content elements that search engines note is how many people click through to your site and how long they stay there before coming back. The more “sticky” your site is, the better your chances of getting in front of people who need to know. 52
  53. 53. Image search accounts for nearly 6% of Google searches That adds up to approximately 600 million searches in May 2009 Read by screen reader technology so cannot sound too weird 5/30/2014 53
  54. 54. And sort of blames SEO for it (not outright but in a passive/aggressive) kind of way 2007 Google Patent: Methods and Systems for Identifying Manipulated Articles (November 2007) Manipulation: Keyword stuffing (article text or metadata) Unrelated links Unrelated redirects Auto-generated in-links Guestbook pages (blog post comments) Followed up: Google Patent: Content Entity Management (May 2012) 54
  55. 55. Entity=anything that can be tagged as being associated with certain documents, e.g. Store, news source, product models, authors, artists, people, places thing The entity processing unit looks at “candidate strings and compares to query log to extract: most clicked entity, most time spent by user) Query logs (this is why they took away KW data – do not want us to reverse engineer as we have in past) User Behavior information: user profile, access to documents seen as related to original document, amount of time on domain associated with one or more entities, whole or partial conversions that took place 55
  56. 56. Receives the query Applies user profile Extracts query terms Assigns entities Identifies candidate synonyms (synonym database) Synonym engine assigns confidence score phrase term order placement on page (?) using phrase engine (?) compound terms often found together Compare to threshold Satisfied – use revised query as well Not satisfied – discard Submit to index for SERP 56
  57. 57. Screen capture of the software architecture from the patent filing 57
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  59. 59. Home page The more content, the stronger the representation in the search engine index More content = Authority = aboutness People will scroll - If they don't scroll, they will print it out Visible text on a page is what counts Spiders cannot “see” = cannot read text images Consistency in terminology and emphasis in topicality on page is good however search engines are sensitive to over optimization Headings are a user’s and the spider’s friend. Extra credit for having them and for having topic terms in there Search engines are: Semantic (LSI) Judgmental Evaluate content based on non-content criteria (bounce rate, click through, conversion) 59
  60. 60. Lists pages Page status (200, 301, etc.) Page type Page size Level in hierarchy MetaTitle MetaDescription MetaKeywords <h1> tags Links in Links out Images Audio Video Documents (downloads) Word count 60
  61. 61. Deconstruct content asset properties: owner, audience, purpose, change history, etc. Some are in and some are going to be out 61
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  64. 64. This client invests a lot of time and effort in their News & Events directory Customers are viewing the utility pages (Contact, etc) and the product justification/ROI section. 64
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  66. 66. Targets “exact match” keyword-ed links or aggressive anchor text to Google sites penalized had “moneyed keywords” in 65% of their incoming links Obviously aimed at the long standing practice of outsourcing link building to 3rd world countries and the weed-like growth of useless directories (i.e. link farms) Too many links from “related sites Same niche Same domain host Same domain owner Standard SEO signals Stuffed <title> and metaDescription Hidden text Unrelated links on and pointing to the page Computer generated text (i.e. dynamically rendered product pages) May 26, 2012: Memorial Day refresh: Matt Cutts admits this is aimed at GWT guidelines violators (keyword stuffing, purposeful duplicate content, link schemes, 66
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  69. 69. Q&A sites are stupid good for driving traffic to your site, and you help your personal brand as a SME. If you get a link, it is good too because it’s coming from a different domain; typically, they are high quality. Quora Yahoo! Industry-specific (e.g. Moz Q&A)… pretty rare Use your content as a source if you have it. If you don’t, make it. If people are asking questions, they probably want to know more about something. 69
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  74. 74. Content Dashboard for Google Analytics i-xjSid7V-q6Q 74
  75. 75. Mom and creampuffs The search engines think that we’re superfluous because we don’t “get search” That’s what I’m here to end. I want you to “get search.” We are information professionals, not mice! We’re going to use every neuron, synapsis and gray cell to fight back. We will shift from trying to optimize search engine behavior to optimizing what the search engines consume, move from search engine optimization to information optimization We will Focus We will be Collaborative We will get Connected We will stay Current Because we are user experience professionals, not Matt Cutts, Sergey Brin or Larry Page. 75
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