SEM and Site Usability: "Unfortunately, many SEM firms are more focused on top positions than on building user-friendly, persuasive sites that convert visitors into buyers. They don't want to worry about usability and conversions. They only care about positioning. Perhaps if their technical staff had more design and usability skills, agencies wouldn't worry so much about search marketers ruining site design."
There finally seems to be more of a move toward building usability into a site redesign project. But this article talks about adding usability for purposes of better search engine optimization. GREAT POINT!!!
As paid placement costs continue to rise, marketers need to find more of that great traffic that converts. The savvy ones are willing to invest time and money in usability but maybe now the rest will follow if they can see the impact in natural search. That sounds like a new sales angle for usability... I know my usability expert will be happy.