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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.