When it comes to SERPs, and what users choose from the array of results, Google says, “Our User Experience Research team has found that people evaluate the search results page so quickly that they make most of their decisions unconsciously.” I could have told them that for a free Google mug. And maybe a Google Frisbee.
Search engines, like any object you use on a routine basis, becomes an extension of your senses. Are we really surprised that a thumbnail in universal search draws attention? No. It’s the contrast to a plain. It’s a key component to effective design, photography, and even magic tricks. But what Google determines from this study is that the thumbnails in the SERPs are also not a distraction if they don’t fit the kind of information a specific user seeking.
When auditing a site, one of the first things I check is the use of images in place of actual text. Why? Well, because when I was a website designer/developer, I was very picky about the simplest aesthetics. It drove me crazy how ugly arial and verdana could look sometimes. Blocky, jagged, and “blech”. I started life as a graphic designer, and just always paid attention to typography. So, if the text I wanted to style wasn’t imperative to users and search engines (which it usually was), I would just Photoshop an image together with the words in the .gif, .png, or .jpg. Otherwise, I would sacrifice typography aesthetics for SEO 99% of the time.
So how does it look? Pretty good (once I determine exactly what font I love). Take a look at the title of this post. You can’t highlight it because it’s a .png file (ie, a graphic). If you search my source code for the title, you’ll still find it in all its glory. Although the header tags are not being used in my particular implementation, I do have this set up to repeat the same text in the alt attributes (I might augment this overlay on the header tags in the future, but I wanted to experiment with the alts for the time being.)
Update (12-10-2010) – So today I’m not the Firefox fanboy I used to be. I’ve moved into Chrome. Check out Chrome Extensions That Make SEO Easier.
The Firefox browser is an amazing, innovative browser. It’s fun watching IE copy its features (well, as many as its architecture can allow, which isn’t many – MS doesn’t rebuild, so Firefox should be enjoying their notoriety for a long time to come). I was an early adopter, but it’s pretty amazing how many people use this browser now – it’s not just advanced web surfers anymore. I was helping my 60 year old mother install a webcam and saw the Firefox browser. Impressed, I asked her how she heard about it. She said, “well, I don’t want Spyware.” Wow.
For those who still don’t use Firefox, here’s some reasons you should take the plunge. If you’re a traditional IE user, believe me, learning this browser is a piece of cake.
Greasemonkey is a Firefox Extension that allows for sub-extensions (called scripts, also found by Googling ‘greasemonkey scripts’ or something similiar). Search Engine Journal just posted 14 Essential Greasemonkey Scripts for Google Searching, and had a few I didn’t know about. Some of these scripts are useful to the average searcher. They do a great job of summarizing each script, so take a look.
To use these scripts, you just have to install the Greasmonkey extension first, then go to the script pages and click INSTALL. That couldn’t be easier.
There are plenty of Firefox extensions for search engine optimization, allowing for quick site audits, spider emulation, NoFollow checkers, user-agent switchers (view a site as Google), and code viewers.
Again, these sites do a great job describing and sending you to the tools. Tackle these after lunch for an hour, and I guarantee the web will look a lot better. Enjoy -
Hey all – been taking a vacation from the blog for a while, sorting out some personal issues. Wanted to bring up a cool meta search engine that I’ve been getting back into. It’s not new, but it’s a cool way to search when your old standby’s aren’t doing the job.
A meta-search engine is a search engine that sends user requests to several other search engines and/or databases and aggregates the results into …
note: image was altered to fit the width of my blog
“Customized for the metro Philly area”, eh? Interesting, except my actual location this time was outside of Philadelphia, in Reading, Pennsylvania – Berks County, not Philadelphia. I’m not exactly sure how the geo-tracking works in this case (I’ll have to look into that), but when I checked my IP path, I’m not running through Philly. Why not choose Harrisburg then? I’m equally close.
SEO and IP aside, I just started to wonder about whether this was a good idea at all.
I wasn’t logged in. I wasn’t asking for personalized search. What if I didn’t want an art program in the Philadelphia area, but rather an art program like Photoshop? Why would I want a customized “local” search? Or, what if I was open to any location? Granted, these results really didn’t seem that customized to Philly this time around, but how far can Google take this?
I’d prefer some parametric buttons that would let me choose customized results to my location, instead of just having it be “on”.
I’ve been spending my last year working in an agency in Philadelphia. I don’t get out nearly as much as I used to, and as a result, was totally oblivious to this great group of local interactive marketers. I hope to meet them soon. My new friend Chris Phillips invited me to the Internet Marketers of Delaware Valley. Affiliated with that is Search Camp Philly, a great sounding weekend for $21.00. Wow. I might have to leave Disney World early for that. Wife would kill me though…
I don’t feel so alone anymore! I know I have a couple local readers to my new blog. Definitely check this out.