This caught my eye. A global web design company in a city near me has advertised a job opening for a Search Engine Optimization Engineer. The requirements are listed for the position. Of the 15 expected duties and responsiblities listed, the third one is this:

Consult with clients on website usability, to improve the end-users’ experience, and conversion rates to true customers of the client.

I was surprised at the request for knowledge of website usability. The other duties were typical for an SEO. I know a great many SEO’s and SEO companies and only a handful of the better ones even acknowledge the need for website usability for their SEO clients.

Some outsource, some do it in-house. Many of them perform user interface usability and stop there, as if this is enough. I don’t know any who offer user testing, either remotely or in labs (they may exist, but I can’t think of any SEO that offers this.)

Do they offer performance testing, before and after design quantitive testing, or automated performance testing of Internet applications for their clients? How about task analysis, user persona development, or cutting edge user centered design practices in persuasion, emotional and information design?

Where are accessibility and mobile testing offered, or does this not count in search engine marketing services? And if not, why? A lot of people use handheld devices to search for things and audio is used in ways other than assisting those with handicaps.

I doubt the company advertising this job even understands their item number 3. The usability part of the job is a position by itself, if they want it done properly.

All that aside, the union of search engine optimization and marketing with usability is just beginning to be accepted in some companies or discussed in the same sentences. Usability and SEO have been perceived as opposites that can’t live in the same house.

That thinking could leave you without a job or remove your company from the competition.

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Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)