All About The Word Connect…

Want to increase your sales?

Want to decrease your bounce rate?

Want to escalate your AAUS (average active user session) and adoption to cart/lead?

One of the easiest (and most effective) ways to do all the above — without breaking the bank — is to improve your word connect.

Don’t know what the word connect is?  You’re not alone.  Most people don’t.  It’s one of the things that typical usability consultants don’t talk about because they don’t know enough about how the brain perceives online experiences.   It’s also one of the things that will make the biggest difference in your website effectiveness.

Take someone who is searching for t-shirts.  Whether or not they type in tees or T’s, t-shirts or tshirts, there is no doubt they are looking for t-shirts right?  Right.

What they are not looking for is apparel.

Your apparel category may have have tees, T’s, t-shirts and tshirts, as well as shorts, pants, sweaters, jackets, hoodies and the like but “apparel” as a choice is not any variation of T’s, which means there is no word connect.

The brain is designed for efficiency.  (It needs to save all its energy to protect you should you find yourself in danger.)  It takes a lot of shortcuts.  For example, if I tell you that a bat and a ball cost $1.10 and the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?

Most people immediately say that the bat costs a buck and the ball costs 10 cents.  That’s intuitive but incorrect.   For the bat to cost $1.00 more than the ball, the bat needs to cost $1.05 and the ball $.05.

When you are looking for t-shirts, your brain will look for all the appropriate variations of t-shirts, but it won’t immediately connect with anything but t-shirts and t-shirt-y words.

Then, less than half (yes, you read that correctly) of the time we will do a second pass over the offered categories to determine where our “word” fits.  Bottom line: you have one chance to make a word connect.  If you don’t get it, you will lose about 55% of your visitors (hello, high bounce rate, low user session and poor conversion.)  

What does this mean for you?  Put simply, it means you need to make sure your most popular words are clearly represented in your navigation.  (Hopefully your top navigation, lefthand navigation AND bottom navigation.)

This applies to whatever you’re selling, advertising, promoting, or showcasing.  (In other words, the word connect is meaningful whether you are a blogger, an ecommerce site or anything in between.)

Don’t know where to start?  First, look at the most popular words people are using to find you at Google, Bing, etc.   Next, look at the words people are using in your text search on your site.  (If you don’t have a text search, that’s fine, just look at the keywords folks are using to get to your site.)  Look at the top ten matches and make sure your words are there.  If they’re not, try adding them.

Have a bazillion items and don’t know how you can do this effectively?  Follow the two steps above but look at changing your category/department pages first (instead of your home page.)  It’s a baby step in the right direction.

You can SEO your site till the cows come home, but if the user doesn’t connect the word they want with the words on your site, it’s not going to make a damn bit of difference.  It’s all about the connection, Baby.


  1. says

    Dang, more a-ha moments from you, Double-A. This happens to me all the time. Your example of “t-shirts” versus “apparel” is spot on. Thanks for the insightful post!!

    • says

      I love seeing your smiling mug on my blog James. Now you just need to add the girls to the picture!

  2. eric says

    I’m new to this but isn’t this just doing proper SEO research. I mean finding out what words people are using to find what you’re selling and then using them…of course I could be missing the whole point…E

    • says

      Hi Eric — You’re definitely right — this is about doing proper SEO research and it’s also taking it one step further and making sure that your navigation connects with what you’re doing in SEO. Most folks can get the SEO part down but they stumble when it comes to getting the navigation to match/connect. Thanks for writing.

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