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Old 05-14-2008   #1
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SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

What Mark Jackson says in an article at SEW this week:

Quote:
I can't tell you how many times I've been called in to look at a recently redesigned Web site and have been asked to "optimize it."
Don't Hire a Butcher to do a Baker's Job

He describes the predicament:

Quote:
It's a rare occasion when I see a Web site built with SEO in mind (it's "search engine friendly"), much less with any noticeable SEO in place. And, this is from the firm that professed to "doing SEO."
So what's the process in dealing with such a situation?

How do you tell the site owner that their new (or newly designed) site that they paid so much for is a search engine disaster?

How do you deal with the designer whose hard work needs to be redone without stepping on their toes? What if they claim to do SEO, but you know haven't?

And what if the design and navigation were built to the site owner's specifications in the first place, or with their approval each step of the way?

How can this kind of predicament best be handled?
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Old 05-14-2008   #2
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Re: SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

Gently... very gently....

If the designer is all images then he needs training in CSS etc. If in Flash you need to optimize as best as can be done and add links to static article pages to help a little.
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Old 05-14-2008   #3
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Re: SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

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Originally Posted by AussieWebmaster View Post
Gently... very gently....
I wholeheartedly disagree... but then again, I'm an a**hole.

People don't learn by holding their hand and reassuring them everything will be okay. If someone hires you to audit a site for SEO, your job is to highlight what they did right and tell them exactly what they did wrong and how to fix it. If someone's toes get stepped on it's because they don't know what they're doing. If your client paid them for knowing what they're doing, then they got ripped off and need to be aware of it. You don't have to be mean about it, but the more you worry about hurting feelings, the less honest you're likely to be about the situation. Not to mention the person who's paying you most likely isn't the designer, but the site owner. A site owner's never going to be mad at you for helping them fix their site - they'll focus their anger at the design firm that told them they knew what they were doing, and obviously didn't.

Some people would be worried about making enemies, but personally I don't enjoy being friends with stupid people. I'm sure some people enjoy being the "Paula" when it comes to such situations, but I guess I'm just more of a "Simon." But I'll always tell a client up front that I have no intention of sugar-coating any of my findings, and that they're paying for an honest, straightforward assessment.
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Old 05-14-2008   #4
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Re: SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

Yeah, except when it's the folks that designed the page or the back end whose work you're criticizing that you have to depend on to implement your suggested changes.

Ya' gotta' go gently. "Wow, great page design, really gets the visitors eyes to what has to be seen. Love what you did with the back end, it's super fast. But there are a couple of things that you couldn't be expected to know about..."
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Old 05-14-2008   #5
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Re: SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

True, but if the designer were smarter they'd bring you in to consult on the front-end to help direct the process rather than develop an entire site before even considering SEO. And I never said you had to be mean, but you don't need to wear kid gloves either. Assuming, of course, your client isn't 12 years old.
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Old 05-14-2008   #6
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Re: SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

Either proceed with great caution, prepared to do lots of hand holding or tell the site owner to call when the site vanishes in the SERPs!

Last edited by beu : 05-15-2008 at 12:53 AM.
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Old 05-14-2008   #7
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Re: SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

Tell the truth and the whole truth... Really, it's not your fault that they over paid. Some things can't be sugar coated. I have no problem being the bearer of bad news, in this situation. Just be tactful and offer solutions. I look at these situations as an opportunity and not a problem.

Some people will not like to hear what you have to say, but do you really want to work for someone who can not take responsibility for the decisions that they made. Quality business owners will be grateful when you solve their problem. By now they already know something is wrong or they would not be talking to you, Right?
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Old 05-15-2008   #8
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Re: SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

Yeah, I agree proceed with cuation. At the end of the day, especially if you are relying on someone to implement your changes for you, which is better?. Constantly having to ask them if they have done, this so you can move on, or getting stuck on the same place in the same project, which doesnt look good for promotion of your work.
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Old 05-16-2008   #9
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Re: SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

I have recently been employed by a company as marketing manager, and am basically doing the whole mix. The company is already in the final stages of a site redesign of which I am very concerned about. My online skills revolve around PPC but I do have a little knowledge of SEO and am very aware of how important it is to incorporate SEO within a site redesign. Over the next couple of weeks one of the web designers is coming into our office to answer any questions we have about the progress of the resdesign. This is my chance to find out exactly how much SEO effort they have put in when working on the design. I obviously have a stack of questions I want to ask but feel my lack of specialism in SEO may mean I miss something vital. I really don't want our site to disappear from the rankings - I obviously want the opposite.

Could anybody out there possibly post, say, the ‘top 10′ SEO questions I should ask our web developer when he visits. Bullet points would be great but feel free to go into as much detail as poss. Any info would be much appreciated. It’ll definitely be interesting to hear if the web developers have been wearing their SEO hats. My fear is that they have not! Apologies to hijack the thread slightly
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Old 05-16-2008   #10
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Re: SEO vs. Design: the Process and the Predicament

I wrote about this last year for SEW: "Baking SEO into a Full Fledged Interactive Work Plan." We have continued to use this methodology pretty effectively.

Carefully planning SEO involvement with each "traditional" design step helps to work through any issues that have to do with hurt designer feelings or overly aggressive SEO strategists, IMO.
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