Your Designer Does Not Do SEO
January 19th, 2010 by
Have you ever asked your mechanic to reupholster your seats? Have you asked your aesthetician to give you a face lift? Probably not and with good reason. It isn’t their job. There may be mechanics out there who know a lot about upholstery and some who can actually do it. I’m sure somewhere out there there is an aesthetician who knows all about plastic surgery but that doesn’t mean they are qualified to perform it. I thought it was funny the first time I saw a clause in a designer’s contract stating that they are not IT and will not teach HTML to the recipient of site design. The longer I’ve been in the industry the more I understand why.
We see this reoccurring problem of people assuming that search engine optimization and marketing are the same as good design or coding. Admittedly, there is a gray area. A nice cross over exists somewhere between W3C compliance, proper use of H1 tags and whether to use bold or strong. For the most part, web design and search engine optimization and marketing are two different jobs and functions.
I see three major problems with this. The first problem is what I like to call the “Cliff notes pro syndrome.” A company buys a book something like “SEO for (fill in adjective of inexperienced individual)” and they now have in-house SEO. Everyone should study complementary trades on their own. A book or class however does not provide new trade credentials. Daily steady practice does. So, unless your designer is Jarod from The Pretender and can execute on anything they read as if they’ve been practicing since birth then one book does not provide in-house SEO. There is a difference between understanding it and practicing it.
The second issue, focusing on freelance designers can be seen in this comment “our designer did a good job we don’t need that.” I love this one. It’s like saying “my car’s well made… no oil changes for me.” Optimization isn’t a one shot deal. It’s an ongoing development like any good marketing effort .
The third flaw in this logic is the first step in proper optimization – strategy. Planning and strategy are fundamental in the success of search optimization as it is in any business plan or marketing campaign. If you don’t identify your goal and plan the road to get there your success is probably going to be about as nonexistent as that strategy. Chances are your designer did not spend time doing a competitive analysis and determining the best way to reach your target demographic. This would be essential for any SEO to help steer you down the path. It’s always best to have a designer and an SEO work in tandem from the beginning.
I am an SEO specialist and a social media marketing specialist – and I am a designer. I think if you are designing a new website from scratch, the best way to do it is to work out what you want on paper, then ‘SEO it’, before you even start building it.
SEO is a part of web design AND marketing. It’s the thread that links the whole lot together. If you have a designer, like me, who can work SEO into the design and then continue to monitor it, tweak it and market it as the site grows, so much the better.
Pure SEO companies are always trying to justify themselves! We all know it’s an easy job if you know what you’re doing and once you have experience – even a web designer can do it!
I agree with JennyR’s comment. We provide custom branding, web design, and marketing services for our clients and optimization is a large part of web design, internet marketing, blog design, and marketing.
The keywords you are targeting for each page need to planned out in advance just as the navigation and site plan does and the marketing does.
While there aren’t a lot of designers out there that offer design and optimizations services, there are some who are good at both. I am proof of that.
My problem is that many think of “seo” and a one time event. They say things like “my designer seo’d my site when they did it, so I’m good”
Optimizations is a process … a never ending process that requires testing, tracking, measuring, error fixing, and adjustment of the meta tags, title tags, content, links, and so much more, which is why we include the starting optimization of the site and it’s content with the site build and then contract on retainer the ongoing seo maintenance and tracking.
Hi Jenny and Jennifer, thank you for your input and comments. I agree with both of you.
SEO and site design should be a concerted strategically planned ongoing effort.
I am confident that many designers are very capable in all facets of SEO. I wanted to make the distinction that they are complementary but different efforts. I have seen too many times where I hear “my designer seo’d my site when they did it, so I’m good” as Jennifer said.
But, I really don’t think SEO companies need to justify themselves – it’s evident in conversions and traffic. It can easily be seen in analysis. Again, as both of you said some designers can do both and do it well but I’d be wary of the designer that claims they “did it” when they created the site.
So funny how SEO is “not that big of a deal” if all web designers “got it” then they would not be designing for anyone, they would be simply doing their own thing because they “get it” and would be making their own money off their OWN STUFF. LOL
I deal with this daily where Web designers & developers think SEO can be done after-the-fact, as if it’s some sauce that gets added on top.
Excellent dissertation! Love the, “Cliff notes pro syndrome” explanation…
@JennyR and @JennyB
I think the main point is generally speaking most web designers don’t really know how to SEO. They may know and understand the basics but actually executing and implementing a successful SEO strategy is something different entirely.
Don’t get me wrong I’m sure you are fully competent to perform SEO as you have stated. I’m just saying the majority of web designers are not.
Let’s put it this way, if all web designers were successful with SEO, then I wouldn’t be in business. 😉
Well i have to say that i must be a rare breed of designer/seo combination. ive been doing both since 1998 and have taken businesses small and large to the top.
In short, you can do both.
Just like an SEO works part time on a number of projects throughout the week, a designer/seo works the same, only with some of the work being front end design/development.
Its just a matter of time.
Sure i cant manage 20+ clients per month, i can however give a hollistic service that delivers on the best principles of the entire design/development and marketing process.