Which Came First The Web Design or The SEO?

  • April 22, 2013
  • Blog
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Right, Ok, this is a silly blog post title but let’s get stuck in anyway.  So what’s the point of this piece of writing? I’ll tell you… it’s less about the origins of each and more about whether, and to what extent that we should consider SEO when we’re designing a website.  It’s also about who, in our web design and SEO teams should do what.  Who should be in charge of the site structure and information architecture for instance.  Should keyword research be done before the information architecture can be implemented? You get the idea.

The simplest answer to the above without having to go into too much irrelevant and, perhaps, boring detail, is that most of these issues can rely on concurrent tasks in terms of web design project management and collaboration is the answer here.  Also, an individual might have dual roles which “kill two birds with one stone” within both disciplines (web design and SEO).  From my Internet Marketing perspective I don’t think that a website should be designed until the reason for its existence is set out in stone…I’m talking about the development of an online strategy.  This should always be in place before a website is designed and developed.  Why should the website exist? Because all business need a website isn’t a good enough answer as far as I’m concerned.  At least not for the purpose of this exercise.  But in reality it doesn’t always work like this.  A new business decides they want a website.  Ok let’s search online or ask friends and family who they recommend…a web designer.  They might not be skilled in SEO and Internet Marketing.  They will probably have a little understanding but not enough to develop a robust SEO / Internet Marketing strategy.  So there we have it.  There are very many instances where a website will be designed before a online marketer is even consulted.  If you’re lucky then each web pages might be W3C validated, CSS validated, have external javascript files, be completely on-page SEOed, have keyword research carried out.  But I rarely see this.  As the client even paid for it? What does “This website is SEO Ready” or “This website is SEO Friendly” mean anyway? Different things to different people I think.  When it comes to reviewing a website in terms of SEO readiness then I, at the very least, hope that the code is nice, clean and concise, and valid.  That’s the basic prerequisite.  To some web designers this is what they mean by “SEO Friendly”.  I must say that the typical web developer is becoming more and more familiar with what Internet Marketers and SEOs need to do their job.

In an ideal world a website design is part of an Internet Marketing strategy but most of the sites we work on will be pre-existing.  We will audit what is there, decide on and mutually agree with the client a set of goals and implement the necessary changes.  So to answer the question which should come first, the answer is that the two are pretty much intertwined but I like to have a strategy in place which defines the goals of the website before it is developed.  A scalable website will be capable of adding new pages so, yes, information architecture is important but this depends on requirements and budget of a client.  Should all web designers learn keyword research? No, I don’t think this is necessary, it is a SEO discipline and isn’t necessarily even necessary to have a successful website for some business.  It’s a nice to have though and is absolutely the most important aspect of a SEO consultant’s role.



SEO, Digital Marketer, Web Developer, Web Usability Professional and Geek! I love to keep abreast with the latest in our industry and impart as much knowledge as possible to our readers.

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