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Old 08-19-2004   #1
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Arrow Designers & Developers have harsh remarks about SEO industry

There has been much discussion lately as to the reputation and credibility of our industry. It seems some of our more vocal technical cousins have their own doubts:

The Craptastic Adventures of SES at San Jose 2004

Silly Expert Opinions
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Old 08-19-2004   #2
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Seems like we have a few spokesmen that need to take themselves out of public speaking for good, WOW those are very bad to read but true


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Old 08-19-2004   #3
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Its funny to see all these trade groups and people that try to tell the world search is a waste of time and professional SEOs have no idea what they are talking about. Could have something to do with the fact that we are pulling budgets our way?
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Old 08-19-2004   #4
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Quote:
SEO ‘experts’ often act like they have harvard degrees in exploiting google, when really they are just part of what is mostly a completely fabricated industry. Companies normally pay more for SEO than for website design, which I find ridiculous and quite insulting.
— Jim Amos 13 August, 6:00pm
Ouch Jim. That is quite a generalization of our industry.

So the value of search and the value of visibility in search is fabricated?

So Google's whole IPO is based on a fabircated multi-billion dollar search industry? Someone better tell the investors.
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Old 08-19-2004   #5
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Well, I'd encourage everyone to start not at the articles above but these follow up threads from both places, before bridges rebuilt start getting ripped down:

SES band-aid

SES San Jose Corrections

And a great thread at Cre8asite: SES slammed by designers

I'm also working on an article about the entire thing. It basically highlights a terrible disconnect, much worse than I ever suspected, between designers and SEOs. Somehow along the way, many more designers than I think ever in the past have assumed that SEO is all about tricks, backlink building and so on.

Skip past the entire white hat/black hat debate. I've been pondering if there's a good word to assign to the class of SEO who specializes in working within a web site, to try to ensure that both good design and good search engine friendliness are combined.

The issue over budgets could be a factor -- but SEOs and designers could actually work together on this. The right site, built right, can pay for itself many times over in terms of free traffic. Working together, both should be winning funds.
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Old 08-19-2004   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
The issue over budgets could be a factor -- but SEOs and designers could actually work together on this. The right site, built right, can pay for itself many times over in terms of free traffic. Working together, both should be winning funds.
So long as you have an understanding of goals and ideas behind SEO its not like its hard to add SEO into a site design right off the bat.
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Old 08-19-2004   #7
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The issue over budgets could be a factor -- but SEOs and designers could actually work together on this. The right site, built right, can pay for itself many times over in terms of free traffic. Working together, both should be winning funds.
Good point Danny. I know some firms and agencies have the designers on board with the SEO from the initial creative brainstorming.

This is how the best SEO is accomplished, from the foundation up. Not as an "add on". We built it....oh! we need to optimize it now!

I cant tell you how many clients pay for an expensive eloborate design and we have to tell them that the new cutting edge design design is actually limiting their visibilty. I hate being the bearer of bad news
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Old 08-19-2004   #8
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>I've been pondering if there's a good word to assign to the class of SEO who specializes in working within a web site, to try to ensure that both good design and good search engine friendliness are combined.

Its already known as the NFFC class.

>a terrible disconnect

Its always been that way, I think it has got worse lately. Mostly it is the clients fault, they hire a great designer and just expect they get #1 for every keyword in with the deal. Partly I think the designers are feeling the pressure from outsourcing.

I think in the many cases where an SEO gets called in *after* the mess has been made then total honesty between the SEO and designer is called for. I usually say "looked you screwed up big time, do what I tell you when I tell you to do it and only us two need know". If they reply anything other than "yes Boss" then I tell them I'll buy a template from template monster et al and do it myself . If they still balk tell them you will buy the same template that they did.

I don't that really helps with the bridge building though.
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Old 08-19-2004   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFFC
>I've been pondering if there's a good word to assign to the class of SEO who specializes in working within a web site, to try to ensure that both good design and good search engine friendliness are combined.

Its already known as the NFFC class.
Classic.... NFFC,.....classic

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Old 08-19-2004   #10
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To me, this is all wrapped up together in the need to market SEO/SEM better. People hire great designers because they think the most important thing is how great their site looks -- it's an ego thing. They don't appreciate (and need to be educated) that the greatest looking site on earth ain't worth a dime if no one can find it. They don't appreciate it because they don't understand it.

Designers, OTOH, don't appreciate SEO/SEM because our requirements might involve tearing down their non-SE friendly masterpieces, and God forbid anything get in the way of the vision.

(That's enough sweeping generalizations for one post, don't ya think?)

Yes, there's a great disconnect, Danny. Yet another bridge to cross for our industry.
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Old 08-19-2004   #11
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It's not just SEO/SEM, you've also got to include Usability and just plain selling-effectiveness. I think websites in 2004 have similarities with where automobiles were forty years ago when Nader took on GM. I developed that idea in one of my newsletters, "Is Your Website "Unsafe At Any Speed"?".
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Old 08-19-2004   #12
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Very good point, bwelford. I'm reminded of Seth Godin's recent "anti-SEO" writings (since amended), too. It's not just designers. We're all grinding against each other to some degree, it seems.
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Old 08-19-2004   #13
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I normally do not optimize sites that we didn't build. It has occurred, on a few occasions, that a good client asked me to help a friend, and so I've had to tear apart and rebuild a number of websites -- with nice designs, I might add -- from the ground up in order to clean up code and optimize the site. This has always included adding other elements that would encourage people to buy, sign up, etc. I can say, as I'm sure many others can, that rebuilding is an unpleasant process, although we normally get rave reviews from the clients afterwards in terms of visitors, sales, etc.

We've had the same discussion at cre8asiteforums about what to call websites that were built from a viewpoint of design, SEO, usability, etc. Someone at cre8 came up with the term "holistic web design", though I don't personally care for it because "holistic" doesn't already mean anything to the general public, which means you now have to define both "holistic" and "optimization". :-)

At the moment, though, I haven't got a better term to suggest.
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Old 08-19-2004   #14
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I'm sure that we have all worked with extremely talented designers. Having said that it can be very difficult to reprogram a designers way of thinking. I have found that the really good designers are very set in their ways. So the chore is to set the ground rules from the beginning and let all parties know up front what is going to be presented and how. Then a good open discussion on opinions should help clear the air and make the relationship stronger.

I know in my case, when I have worked with designers and have not been as forth coming on what a project entailed it usually came back to bite me. Then I was spending my time trying to mend fences and get us all back on the same page.
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Old 08-19-2004   #15
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I think I have to agree about the speakers. Leaving them out of the conference would be like keeping your accordion home when you go deer hunting.
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Old 08-20-2004   #16
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I personally find that I enjoy working with designers, most of the time. There are a few dinosaurs who think that one person should do everything and if they don't know how to do it, it can't be important, but most designers work hard and are client oriented, in my experience.

Usually, they are very interested in SEO (but don't know much about more than the basics, else I would not have been hired) and react well when I offer to teach them the basics during the SEO stages. This brings them on side and makes my life easier.

I used to use an analogy that the web designer is like a medical general practicioner. They are the front line, do most of the work and client contact, and frankly are responsible for this web we all use and love.

But a good GP doesn't do brain surgery on people. They refer to a specialist. And you don't ask the brain surgeon to deliver a baby, either. It's not a case of "I'm better than you" it's a case of "I'll spend 10 years learning this, you spend 10 years learning that, then then we'll compare notes to solve the problem".

Sure, one person *could* do it all, but could you trust them to be up to date? How could they possibly keep up with the new information in ALL fields?

SEO's are specialists. So are SEM's, database designers, web hosts, flash designers, database admins, security specialists and numerous other specialists. Many people can do some or all of these things, with varying degrees of skill, but when you hit a certain point you pretty much need to leave the one guy in the basement scenario and hire some specialists.

It's not that I CAN'T learn the latest and greatest stuff in web design, it's that I don't have enough hours in the day to keep up with my own industry (not to mention clients!) So I don't feel guilty about referring clients to talented designers I know. Hopefully, they will return the favor.

I'll tell you something else. In my case (and in the case of many SEO's I know) I generate business for designers, not take it away from them. I make it a point to offer a designer that refers a client to me a percentage, and a large percentage if they make my life easier by doing many of the changes based on my instructions. Or we skip that and s/he just bills the client hourly, or whatever. Regardless, the designer profits every time, and I take care to not make the designer look bad because of the need to make some changes.

Redesigns, updates, second sites, added content - all these things can require designers, copywriters, artists, database tech, you name it. They also require an SEO in many cases.

Yes, designers should learn the basics of SEO, and SEO's should learn the basics of design, but you shouldn't *have* to know everything - it's impossible. My Oracle skills are several years out of date, but I don't feel bad about it - I'd just hire an Oracle specialist to help me when needed rather than try to fake my way through it.

Internet disciplines and specialities should complement each other and work together, not be at odds with each other, IMO.

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Old 08-20-2004   #17
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I find exactly the same thing, Ian. The only web designers who can't work well like that are those web designers who are afflicted by the "tyranny of the architect" syndrome. "You're going to love what I create for you." Well yes, but I know what I like.
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Old 08-20-2004   #18
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I very much agree with you, Ian, and I've had very much the same experience: Most designers are great people with a focus on delivering the best product to the client.

However, to some degree we are fighting for the same budgets and as far as I am aware the web-design business is not going too well - at least not anywhere near as well as many of us in the SEO/SEM do. So, off course some designers are "mad" at us because we "take their budgets". At the last SES show some TV people got really mad too at "us" too (the search business) and actually ended up behaving very bad.

But, as you pointed out Ian, it's a question of expertise. No single person can be an expert in it all. We most definately need good webdesigners, just as well as we need good SEOs and SEMs. If some webdesigners or TV folks chose to ignore or fight that they are most welcome but I honestly don't think they are about to win that fight. Personally I chose to work with the designers that do understand and enjoy ending up with better results.
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Old 08-20-2004   #19
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We work with a few web developers regularly, and the relationships are very successful. It really does come down to specializing in an area, such as SEO. We provide a discount for the developers, which helps them with pricing out the total cost for the SEO so they receive a profit from the process. Some of the new web developers who contact us for outsourcing SEO have no idea how to sell those services to their clients. We educate them on the best way to do it, but this often ends up with the web developer losing the sale for the SEO part of their project. Much of the time they are at a loss to explain what SEO is and how it works. Quite simply they don't build the pricing into the entire project, which seems to work the best for the developers we do work with.
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Old 08-20-2004   #20
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The critical comments from a developer are about issues to do with developer issues, not SEM issues.

Seems he's criticising some apparently backward webdesign advice being given.

Now, if SEMPO really want to show some metal, here's the chance - no attack - agree that the developer statements about what is silly in development are true, but that the sessions have obviously been misunderstood - provide 2 or 3 short examples of using specific developer issues referenced with regards to SEO. Calm, polite, gently dismissive (presuming the criticisms are inflated and not literally true!).

...
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