5 SEO Touch-Points During Website Design & Development

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My career began at a dedicated search agency, often working with third party vendors and IT teams to accomplish SEO objectives. While I experienced many successes there, I now truly realize the importance of tight-knit collaboration and building SEO into the integrated marketing conversation.

For some this might seem repetitive, but based on my experience in the industry there are too many people who believe creating a document and handing it to the client will result in 100% implementation of the recommendation. Working at an integrated agency, I now have the opportunity to oversee implementation of search programs and weigh their impact on design, development, IA, and KPI framework construction. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Step 1 – IA (Information Architecture) Development

One of the best parts of stepping into this role is having the opportunity to learn that the sitemap and IA are much more complex than I had experienced in the past. We need to consider consumer research, competitive research, business objectives, federal regulations, etc.

It is easy to tell that in our case, search strategy is more informative and less imperative. Ideally we will be able to achieve the best of all worlds, but contributing to the massive research before the construction of a website gives us the opportunity to weigh keyword optimization & schema with messaging, etc. Long story short, having the opportunity to conduct thorough keyword research and use it as an influence on the final sitemap rather than a concrete road map results in a final product which integrates comprehensive user research, search strategy, and modern IA strategies. What a great way to start a project.

Step 2 – Copywriting

Now that the sitemap for a new site has been determined, we can conduct another round of keyword research, this time in a much more focused (and less exploratory) manner. The best part about mapping out keywords in this stage is having the ability to oversee their implementation, and you don’t have to work alone. For an SEO professional, I feel it is incredibly important to gather feedback from all parties involved. Whether its working with your creative team to find out how the keywords mesh with their vision for a site, or discussing with the development team how keyword selections may affect technical implementation, this stage is a great opportunity to encourage collaboration and accomplish your SEO objectives while gathering feedback from your peers. Once again, search is truly integrated.

Step 3 – Design

This is where as an SEO, you get to pull out your fine-tooth comb. While it may not be the most glorious of tasks, making sure image naming conventions are in place and teaching designers about a/b testing can be incredibly rewarding in the big scheme of things. I personally am careful to never mess with creative juices, but sometime there are search ranking factors that need to be explored during the design phase that can impact how much copy goes on to a page and how well optimized your site is to send users through conversion funnels. I love pulling out studies on click through rates for social share buttons and giving examples of how imagery can effect user behavior. Working with design is part education and part intricate planning.

Step 4 – Development

This is a very important step, and there are a lot of hats in the ring. At this point the site is ready to be built (or re-built) and your guidance as a search expert is extremely important to the performance of the website post-production. Have you mapped out your 301 redirects and talked to the development team about site speed and canonical content? Are you familiar with the CMS and its intricacies? What kinds of issues do you foresee for the development team in implementing your search strategy from a technical standpoint? These are all important questions, and they have to be answered concisely. In the integrated marketing process this is where the real challenge begins.


Imagine having a client who paid for search integration and your first post-launch recommendation is to optimize site speed. This is also the point where you have total control over what you want to track and tag. If you can’t communicate with development and map out tracking snippets for key events and conversions, you are putting yourself in front of a nice, thick brick wall.

Step 5 – Measurement & Growth

It is a pretty awesome feeling when a new site is constructed and your new search strategy is functioning after such epic collaboration. Now you have the responsibility of reporting on your strategy and providing insights that will continue to improve the site over time. First, you can pat yourself on the back for covering all of your SEO bases the first time around, and next you can start to get excited about implementing some good old fashioned reporting. I am a strong believer that website performance doesn’t have a ceiling. Although your initial search strategy is solid and in place, there is always opportunity to improve the site. Good reporting will always lead to actionable insights, so use it to keep your search mojo flowing.


The bottom line is that search strategies should be nurtured in to the design and development process as much as possible, and it is a long process that requires organization and the willingness to collaborate. When done properly, working through these five touch points can result in a strong product that is ready for testing and growth. This process ensures the fundamentals are in place, the right factors are considered, and team building is taking place.

Jeff Bedford

Jeff Bedford

Analytics & Optimization Specialist at The New Group
Jeff Bedford is an Optimization & Analytics Specialist at The New Group, an integrated digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Indiana University,... Read Full Bio
Jeff Bedford
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  • Billy McAllister

    Some great advice from a fellow Hoo-Hoo-HOOSIER! Good post, Jeff. I enjoy these high-level posts to share with my developers. Keep up the good work.


    • Jeff Bedford

      Thanks a ton Billy, I appreciate the kind words. Feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions, I always enjoy talking to other Hoosiers!

  • Jason Wright

    Developing user personas is really where it starts. The kind of clarity it brings to the entire scope of the marketing effort is something you can’t do without. I think a lot of people get hung up on the idea that they MUST have concrete information, reports, etc on their best buyer. Though that information would definitely be rock solid, it’s not always something a client or marketer can get their hands on. This is especially true when you’re working with a small business. At the end of the day, you have to categorize user personalities with or without statistical data and use that as your base. If you don’t, you’re shooting blindfolded and that’s not going to be fun for anyone.

    • Jeff Bedford

      Jason, thanks for the insightful comment. I definitely agree that developing personas and mapping out the customer journey are a huge part of site planning and important to consider in their relation to SEO. This is something we do at TNG as more of a strategy function, but the SEO portion wouldn’t be nearly as fluid without it. Thanks again!

  • Jibran Qazi

    Great points. However I want to suggest that we must remain flexible on Step 1 and Step 4. It all depends on how the site grows and how people actually respond to it. Changes are just an ongoing thing of a successful site.

    • Jeff Bedford

      Hey Jibran, thanks for chiming in. That is definitely something I would advocate, is flexibility throughout the entire process, there is no project that is the same, so trying to install strict guidelines is always risky from my perspective. Great point that adds good value to the article!

  • Steve Krull

    Great piece Jeff, I appreciate how you imply the closeness of the relationship with both the client and developer. There’s one piece, however, that I like to specifically add to this and it comes down to “Trust but Verify”. Add a strong QA both prior to and immediately following launch and the job is complete.

    I’ve found that regardless of how much or how closely we work with the developers, things can and will be different when implemented. QA catches these things and completes the plan.

    • Jeff Bedford

      Steve, awesome comment. I am fortunate enough to work at an agency where QA is a major part of the process, and a key filter in making sure you have all of your bases covered. I completely agree and appreciate your comment adding advanced context to my post.

  • russ william

    Responsive Design is a powerful trend that suits our users’ environment and context. A proper website redesign should slot in text as needed while remain concise and to the point. You should only use easily understood language.

  • Zinger Web Design

    Totally agreed, SEO can fill the communication gap between you and your potential customers, also improves the visibility and credibility among customers.