As a business owner you know by now that having a good website that has good SEO is important. Good SEO is having a website easily found by your customers. Good SEO is a crucial part of business in today’s digital economy.

But I still have clients coming to me who have had websites built by website designers and there has been little to no SEO Strategy put into place.

Now, I am not saying that all web designers are bad at SEO. But, by in large being an SEO Specialist requires a much different skill set than being a good website designer. I work with many website designers, (and happy to work with more, so give me a call) and I help the client with SEO Strategy. This usually involves working with the client before the website design commences on planning. Once the website is live we then look an ongoing SEO progamme to get their site found.

But the differences between the website designer and the SEO Specialist are vast.

Website Designer — are usually very creative and skilled with programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator, they can take your ideas and thoughts out of your head and translate them into something tangible that you can approve or disapprove of. Traditionally, this design element was all about the aesthetics; it had to look the way you imagined it in your head, it had to be a certain shade of blue, the images had to move and intertwine, and most of all you had to have your products proudly poised at the top of the page. At no point was engagement, optimisation, or in many cases, your customer, actually considered. For some, web design was a vanity project.

SEO Specialist — or anyone focused on the optimisation of web presence, focuses more on the customer, and ensuring the website, or any of the virtual real estate, is actually relevant to your target audience. The basics are covered in terms of the language of the customer and incorporate of that into the pages, the title, URL, content, meta tags, header tags, sitemaps, robot files and of course, your analytics.

As we move forward, more and more web developers are bringing the ‘on page’ optimisation under their banner when creating sites. But the bulk of SEO work is done off page and that is where you need experts in this field. It has moved on far from just link building; Google and the like are looking for organic growth in your site from a content perspective — regular relevant content creation is essential, but more important is the promotion and syndication of that great content. It’s this step that actually starts you moving up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s) for the keywords that are relevant to your industry or profession.

So you can see that whilst web developers/designers may well incorporate some elements of SEO into their particular process, you would do well to question anyone claiming to do web design, web development, SEO and a plethora of other things at the same time. Ask them how they approach their SEO, what level they go to and which properties they focus on. If they can’t answer, or don’t understand the question, perhaps evaluate them to create your website — and then look for a SEO professional.

It’s a great accomplishment to build a plane, but it requires quite another skill set to fly it. Hopefully when you are looking at your next website project you will look at getting the assistance of a digital marketer or SEO Specialist (Hopefully Us).

Disclaimer that will keep me from being hated by Web Designers (hopefully)

1. I don’t actually think that web designers have to know anything about SEO. That’s what SEOs are for. However, I do take issue when someone CLAIMS to know SEO and marginalizes an entire industry into an add-on to a web design package and then screws it up.
2. There are a lot and I mean a LOT of web designers who are very competent at SEO and know a great deal about it. These individuals who somehow balance their knowledge of design with their knowledge of the requirements of the search engines are priceless and awesome and you should hire them when you find them.
3. There are even more web designers and web design firms who know they don’t know and partner with SEO firms to make sure their finished product is awesome and Search Engine friendly. This is commendable. If I were a business owner looking for a web design firm, I would choose this kind of setup.