Search Engine Optimization Before Development & Design
Tom Schmitz Jun 9 2008
Question: When should a company bring a search engine optimization (SEO) consultant into designing a new web site?
I just read an article where the author states that the time to hire a search engine optimization consultant is right after the design is finished, before the content is written.
Wow! There’s a disaster ready to happen.
I cannot tell you how often I have had to rip the heart out of gorgeous, visually appealing and clean web site design with carefully chosen color schemes and lots of white space.
- Is there space for anchor text or are the menus stylishly petite with generic text like ‘home’ or ‘solutions’ or ‘products’?
- Did your designer include signals of trust like addresses, telephone numbers, and copyright dates?
- Did your designer use fancy CMS image replacement tricks?
You can design around SEO. It is much harder to SEO around design.
BTW, this goes for development too. You do not want to spend thousands of dollars on a content management system only to learn that search spiders cannot crawl your links or that you have massive amounts of canonical URLs or that your CMS will not work with your web analytics.
Smart entrepreneurs use SEO to inform all of their online decision making.
Think about the words and phrases people use to query the search engines in order to find your product or service. Could you use valuable market research like this to develop your entire marketing message?
If you are serious about designing a profitable online business hire an SEO consultant and do so early.
Before your web site is designed and installed use your SEO consultant to
- Discuss your Internet marketing vision and ask for an independent reality check, one based on market behavior.
- Get a keyword list and find out what people are or are not looking for.
- Create your web site architecture (skeleton/org chart/page-tree).
- Make a checklist of requirements for your CMS developer and web site designer.
Being a Search Engine Optimizer is a bit like being an attorney. I’m not creating your design for you. I am not programming or installing you CMS. But I understand the process, the dangers and the opportunities. At the outset I will use my expert knowledge to give you a set of dos and don’ts that will protect you and help you. It is Search Marketing after all, and I am a Search Optimizer.