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January 16, 2006

Gone in the blink of an eye.

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There’s a new study out there about how quickly people judge your webpage and the news isn’t good. We’d like to think that people take their time, wait for all the goodies to go by and really notice How We’re Different but the truth is that in just 50 milliseconds, a decision has been made.

You want to know why people like Google better? Maybe it’s the relevancy, maybe it’s the ‘Do no Evil’ philosophy or all the freebie services. Or maybe it’s that easy on the eyes interface. Google is the champion of the pristine homepage, just a couple of links, a logo and a search box. It’s impossible not to like it, especially after the cluttered, ad-ridden wastelands that comprise the rest of the internet. According to the study, once your brain has approved of a website, the approval persists, making the content subjectively better simply because the brain likes the look.

So what does this have to do with SEO? Simply this. Like the human mind, search engines take a quick look at your page then place it in a queue to check back on later. Your first impression is important. But there’s more to it than that. One researcher suggests that “the amount of graphics on the page should be strictly limited, perhaps to a single eye-catching image” and “it’s about getting information across in the quickest, simplest way possible.”

Which, if you think about it, is exactly what the search engines want, too.

Who says that SEO isn’t user-friendly?

(Hat-tip to Seth Godin)

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