In most cases, SEO projects take place after a website is created. People think of improving the web design, the usability, and even some content strategy, but they rarely think of SEO at the beginning of the website design process. There are usually 3 primary reasons for site owners to not implement your detailed SEO recommendations. They are:
You spent significant amount of money to create a website, which probably costs much more than was originally budgeted, and simply don’t have any budget left to spend, or don’t want to go ask your boss for more money.
You just launched a newly designed site, and don’t wish to go through another round of major changes for a while for many reasons including the cost.
Somehow the new system that you setup such as CMS, server, and database management system, doesn’t allow you to make the changes. It’s likely that the system can handle the changes unless you haven’t updated it for the past 10 years, but when you ask IT/Web team about the changes, they just repeat, “Not possible.”
If you think about the above, it is clear that there is no better time to fully optimize your website than the next time your website is designed. If you are lucky enough to have an opportunity to redesign a website, be sure to maximize the opportunity and integrate your SEO changes into the process.
Manage the requirements
If you ask a web designer, no one will tell you that they don’t care about SEO. But, that doesn’t mean their idea of SEO is at the level that would ensure complete integration into the new designs. You need a plan to manage the SEO requirements with the web designer. I use my “SEO Checklist for Website Design Project,” which shows a list of specific SEO requirements with descriptions.
By categorizing ownership (Web Design Agency, IT, Web Operations, Content, etc.) of each requirement and assigning it to an owner, the chances of SEO being integrated into the website design process increases.
Meet with each owner and go through the requirements to make sure they fully understand the action they are expected to make. You should also “over detail” each requirement with examples, sources and even list the “acceptance testing criteria” to ensure there are no misunderstandings of the specifications.
Manage the expectations
Next, you need to manage the expectations of each requirement by specifying the priority, impact level, and implementation effort level. While all the requirements are important, SEO requirements will become a part of the over all web design requirements. The prioritization of action items is helpful for all concerned parties to design a realistic and efficient project plan.
Create a flow chart with several check points identifying who can open, confirm the implementation and close the requirements, and the future plan for the requirements, which are not implemented prior to the initial launch of website. All SEO requirements should be validated and closed only by the SEO team.
Manage the progress
Since you work with non-SEO specialists during the website design project, having meetings on monthly, bi-weekly, or even weekly basis to check the progress and to make sure that SEO requirements are implemented correctly is crucial to the success of the project. Keep a record of any changes and progresses as well as challenges arise.
The website design project can take months to complete, and more depending on the size of a website. Along the way, you may have some personnel changes, or project scope changes. Having a good record of anything related to SEO requirements can keep you from losing sights, and drowning in the sea of changes.
A beautifully designed website with good content will not reach as many people, if they are not optimized well. Yes, the user’s experience is important, and us SEO professionals know that UX and SEO actually co-exist very well. The website design trend changes all the time, and each trend brings different SEO challenges to the table. By being a part of the website design project, you can provide SEO input and feedback at the planning stage rather than to wait till after everything is decided, which saves time, resources, and cost of overall design project.
Latest posts by Motoko Hunt (see all)
- Where is Social Content Going – The Web Summit 2015 Recap - November 23, 2015
- 3 Ways of Finding the Right SEO Advice for Your Business - September 16, 2015
- 3 Reasons Your SEO Integrations Fail - July 17, 2015
- Mobile Advertising in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan - May 6, 2015
- Haosou, The Other Chinese Search Engine - February 11, 2015