6 Steps To Bake SEO Into The Web Design Process

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Despite tough economic times, and advertising budgets being pulled back in almost every sector I know of, companies are still recognizing the need to be different to stand out from the competition in such bleak times. Many of the prospects I’ve spoken to in the recent past have told me that they intend to get a fresh look by revamping their website, but of course, SEO wasn’t baked into that process. In fact, I’ve one lead even told me to ‘call him back in 6 months, once the design was done so we could revisit SEO for his site.

Assuming you’ve passed the first challenge of letting your client know that you or your agency are fully capable of working with their web designer/agency, the path to creating an SEO friendly website lies in the ability to bake SEO into the design process.

Here are 6 steps to make that process as easy, enjoyable, and productive as possible when working with the designer who will ultimately create structural and navigational elements of the client’s website. It’s important to be involved in the design process from the start, as I’m sure you’ve got valuable nuggets to impart, right from the wireframe stage that sets the tone for the site architecture.

  1. The Kick Off Phone Call – The purpose of this call is to affirm your role as a supportive entity that complements the web designer’s work. The call with the client and his/her web designer will help set deadlines, process, and types of communication between the project’s stakeholders.
  2. Setup A Wiki or Similar Collaboration Resource – Email isn’t necessarily the best way to manage a project, and it’s often much better to establish a central resource for sharing information, wireframes, checklisted SEO recommendations, and similar files. It’s important to keep the access open to the client if they wish to see how SEO is being integrated into the design process.
  3. Schedule Regular Phone Calls – Email is great to get communication in and out fast, but not necessarily when you want anything actionable to happen. You can’t file a scheduled phone call away, and it forces both the SEO and web designer to focus project milestones so that deadlines are met.
  4. Explain Your Recommendations – While some might think it’s not worth the extra time and effort in educating the web designer, I’ve found that putting some rationale in your recommendations can speed up the work flow. Baking SEO into the design process asks the designer to make changes into their existing work habits, and change isn’t always easy to accept.
  5. Review The Implementation – Don’t expect 100% of your SEO recommendations to be implemented. There are many reasons why they might not be implemented, ranging from time involvement, to the web developer not putting importance to any given recommendation such as relative versus absolute internal links. There’s often a trade-off to be had between design and SEO, but it’s important to be in control of what those trade-off’s are.
  6. Close The Loop & Celebrate – There’s a fair bit of rinse and repeat in the phone-call, wiki, implementation, and review process, but at the end of the day you can be happy because your client is. Life is a learning process, and I’ve learnt more tricks of the trade in web design from the agencies I’ve worked with, as I’m sure they’ve learnt about SEO too from me.

Dev Basu is a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal. He owns Powered by Search, a full service internet marketing agency located in Toronto, Canada; and blogs about online marketing for small businesses, search marketing, and all matters in local seo and social media. Catch up with him at his blog, twitter, or connect on Linkedin.

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  • http://virtualimpax.com Kathy @ Virtual Impax

    I’m sorry – I’m still REELING from – “get back to me in 6 months when the web site is redesigned and we’ll talk about SEO.” Choke-gag-spit!

    Love the term “baking SEO into the process”. OUTSTANDING word picture!!!

  • http://www.websight.org Website Design Orange County

    We ALWAYS have the final key phrase list in place before we start development. This can happen concurrently with the design process but never should it take place after the development has begun.

  • http://www.23gears.se Steve Cook

    I fully agree. We are a web development company who include SEO both in the start-up phase of a web development project by helping our clients build a stategy for their website that includes goals for how the site will be marketed and used, plus we help them consider how SEO will impact their copy and the way they communicate.

    The strategy we help with with at the very first step then helps define the major choices that need to be made with generating copy, designning the site, architecture and how it fits into their marketing efforts.

    We then help with continual advice and analysis based upon the concepts we defined in the strategy.

    The whole builds a solid base for a website to stand upon. And we have built tools into our CMS which help our clients understand how this work is imapcting their website. As many clients work with their own text material, the tools can help them see how their chosen keywords are represented through the site and which pages sre specifically optimised.

  • http://www.ychange.com Small Business Marketing

    You are so right. This is something I try to stress in my Internet marketing II class that I teach to small business entrepreneurs.


  • http://www.lorm.de/ Malte Landwehr

    When you want to use a wiki to communicate with your client, use Confluence. Its not as easy to install and administrate as MediWiki or others but it will allow you to manage all clients via a single wiki installation by creating a certain area (called spaces) for every client/project. And you can have a general category with the SEO basics you want your clients to know, so you will not have to copy&paste that stuff for every new client.

  • http://www.functionalseo.com Alan Williams

    This was a very informative article. I will read your blog often.

  • http://www.mattwutzke.com Matt Wutzke

    Great stuff brian!
    Looking forward to more in-depth strategies.

  • http://www.functionaltrends.com Michael Harrington

    Dev the article was very good.Especially the 6 points you have described very properly.Dev i would also want to know that But what is your opinion about Web Analytics?

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