How to Incorporate SEO into Website Design and Development
Posted by fusionbox on Oct. 12, 2010, 6 p.m.
Incorporating search engine optimization into the web design and development process is critical to the future success of your site.
This is one of the main reasons I'm happy to be working at Fusionbox, a Denver SEO agency. We understand both how important search engine optimization is AND how to structure a website to accommodate search engines for optimal SEO results. And, we're willing to take the time to do it right the first time. (Feel free to contact us for for more info.)
Here's a quick guide illustrating when SEO is important to the website design and development process:
When you're creating a site strategy:
Who are you and how are you different? Who are your competitors? What are you looking for – lead generation (usually B2B or service industry), sales (e-commerce) or traffic/“time-on-site” (to sell ad space)? SEOs are marketers with a technical skill set, so understanding what it is that you do will help them organize a website that will easily allow for visitors to convert for you – whatever your definition of a conversion may be.
When you're organizing the structure of the site (i.e., before building wireframes):
At this point, an SEO should have completed some basic keyword research, which can help with making structural decisions. Is there enough search engine traffic potential to merit having related products or services on pages (or sections) of their own, or can they be combined? What should each page be called? How will we make sure that keywords are not diluted? Are there any opportunities to help users that you haven't thought of yet? Additionally, SEOs can provide advice on the best way to carry out certain website functionality for ranking (there is almost always more than one way), or steer you out of wanting features that will hinder your goals.
During design and development:
When two different agencies are hired for SEO and design/development, the agency may not be familiar with what good, clean code should look like (most think they are – but many aren't). A good web design agency and SEO will pay attention to the quality of the code. This helps save the time required to create something that's a bad idea for optimization purposes, and then having to go back and fix it.
Pre-Launch and during Q/A:
This is where a bulk of SEO work is done. It entails writing custom meta data, crafting SEO-friendly URLs, optimizing content and much more. Unfortunately for many firms, this is the first time an SEO gets their hands on a site. Since everything is already built out, a firm is forced to decide if they will pay for the changes or if the client will end up picking up the tab. And, opportunities to build SEO into the structure of the site are lost.
Post-launch and moving forward:
Certain SEO tasks can't be completed until the site is launched, but in addition to this, it's really a very good idea to maintain a certain level of on-going reporting and maintenance. That way a business can determine what the website is succeeding at, and what can be enhanced. There will always, ALWAYS be room for improvement as new tools become available, business goals change and search engines change their ranking algorithms.
You'll end up saving money in the long run when you partner with a firm who can develop a site with SEO in mind, and then continue to support your goals after launch with ongoing search engine marketing services.
Here are some other great resources/opinions tackling the same subject in a slightly different manner:
Building SEO into the Development Process from SEOMoz
Six Steps to Bake SEO into the Web Design Process from Search Engine Journal
Where SEO Belongs in the Web Site Development Cycle from Search Engine Land