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Should My Web Designer Understand SEO?

Once upon a time, web design and SEO used to be one discipline. They essentially grew out of the same place and, even now, the two skillsets are intrinsically linked.

After all, you can’t be optimising websites for SEO without those websites being built first. And you can’t be building websites with no concern for how they will perform once they’ve been set live (or you shouldn’t be, anyway).

And that’s still as true now as it ever was. So, in answer to the question ‘does my web designer need to understand SEO?’, the answer is, most definitely, yes. Of course they do. It’s blinking obvious that they need to!

Unfortunately, in recent years, web design and SEO have diverged slightly, to the point where they are now almost two completely separate disciplines.

As an SEO agency, you literally have no idea how often we come across web designers and developers who simply have no understanding of SEO, or – worse – just don’t give a thought to how that website is expected to perform once it’s been unleashed on the internet. They care about how pretty it looks or what awesome and unique new features it’s got, but they don’t think about whether or not those things will get it to rank.

However, there are some very good reasons as to why your web designer needs to have a proper understanding of SEO, and here are just 5 of them.

1. It’s Better To Be Proactive Than Reactive

As an SEO agency, we tend to be brought into the process at the point when a website has either just been launched or has been live and in the world (wide web) for some time. Essentially, when the web designers and web developers have done their stuff, built the shiny new website, launched it and then lost interest, because they’re now not sure what on earth they’re supposed to do with it next.

Even the ones who say they do SEO do this. Believe me, we’ve seen it all.

(Before we go any further and you assume from my moaning tone that I have something against web designers and developers here, let me just be clear that I don’t. We work with some awesome web developers who genuinely care about their client’s websites post launch. It’s just that we’ve also worked with a lot who don’t, and they’re the ones I’m generalising about here. Anyway, back to the point…)

So, usually we’re brought in to make a website work – to make it rank, to make it generate new leads, to make it convert visitors into customers etc. – at the point when all the design, layout, calls to action (CTAs) etc. have already been set in stone. And that means we generally then have to go back and start changing and rearranging things, in order to get said shiny new website to do what it was always meant to do in the first place: to grow your business online.

Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t necessarily make our job any harder. It’s what we do after all. But, let’s be honest, it would be much, much easier if all this stuff was thought about in the first place.

If websites were built in the first place to rank and convert, then all your lovely digital marketing budget could be spent on digitally marketing your website, rather than re-doing work you’ve just paid your web design company to do for you. Just saying.

2. UX Is Fundamental To SEO

As I’ve already touched on, how easy your website is to use is fundamental to SEO. Hence, the user experience (UX) needs to be considered right at the very first design stage of the entire process.

If you launch a website that is all fancy pants and snazzy, but which confuses the hell out of people (like the ones in these examples), then people aren’t going to be able to use it very easily. If they can’t use it easily, they will click off yours and go onto the next one.

Then, your bounce rate goes through the roof, your drop-off rate increases, no one looks at more than one page of your website, nobody converts…in short, all the signals given off to the search engine algorithms are that your website is poor and no one is using it. Then your rankings drop, then your traffic drops. Then, well, you might as well throw in the towel, it’s game over.

Yes, your website needs to look nice, be appealing and have a great style, but you can’t do that at the expense of good UX. So, if your web designer is more concerned with style over substance (because, let’s face it, they’re DESIGNERS), then it’s time to part ways.

3. SEO Cares About Site Structure

This one is similar to the point above and comes back to the same conclusion.

To give you the short version, search engines likes websites where the content is all organised in a logical but concise way, because this makes them much easier for people to use. Naturally, if you can find what you want on a website quickly and easily, because it’s organised logically, then you’re going to use that website more and return to it again and again. Your website will become a useful resource.

All of which are positive signals to the search engine algorithms that your website is worthy of reward with rankings and thus traffic. Ergo, more business for you via your website.

Furthermore, for much more technical reasons that I’ll not bore you with here, SEO is endlessly concerned with URLs. If your site is structured randomly and your URLs are bizarre, the algorithms will struggle to connect the dots of what you do and where you’re trying to get to, hence won’t rank you for the right things (if at all), hence the right people won’t find your website, hence thy won’t convert into your customers.

So, you need plenty of content on there (to answer all of those wonderful questions that searchers might have), but you also then need to organise it logically and systematically, so that both the algorithms can crawl and catalogue it quickly and humans can use it with ease.

Again, if your web developer isn’t interested in making sure your web content is siloed correctly or if they have built you a website with a bonkers navigation menu, then you either need to put them right or wave them off.

4. SEO Needs Plenty Of CTAs

This is the most simple point but it’s an error we encounter day-in-day-out.

If visitors are finding your website but then they have no idea what you want them to do, or they can’t easily find their way to the page you want them to go to, they will either not take the action you want them to or – worse – they will click off your website and go to your competitor’s.

Assume that people are stupid and make sure you are always telling them what to do next, funnelling them towards where you want them to be.

So, for example, if you want them to pick up the phone and call you, is your phone number visible in their eye line at every point on the website? If you want them to buy something online, is there a big button that they can always see that says, ‘Buy Now’? If you want them to give you their email address, is the box there, ready for them to do it, regardless of what page they’re on?

If you want visitors to convert, then you have to make it simple for them to do so. Make sure you do that, and the algorithms will pick that up and reward you for it. After all, they want to present searchers with the best, easiest websites, so make sure yours is.

And this is why you need to build this functionality in right from the beginning of the website design process. Sure, we can go back after a few months and put in some more CTAs, but – again – why wouldn’t you just make sure they’re there, right from the beginning?

5. SEO Needs You To Market Your Website

This is my final point for today, but it’s perhaps the biggest of them all, so listen well.

Your website will never be finished. There is no such thing. Having a new website built is only the very first step in a very long process.

Think of the digital marketing process as being like painting the Forth Bridge (OK, before you have a go at me, I know that’s an out-of-date metaphor now, but go with me here!)…it’s going to be a long road and the job will never be completed. In this scenario, getting your new website launched is like going to B&Q and buying some new paintbrushes. You can’t embark on the task without having done this bit but, by god, even once it’s done, you’ve got an awful lot of work ahead of you.

Digital marketing and SEO are like that. If you want to rank for your chosen keywords, if you want to get your domain authority (DA) up, if you want to get more traffic to your website (all of which you do, otherwise what’s the point in paying for a new website?!), then you’re going to have to be adding to that website as often as you possibly can.

And that means blogs, it means new web pages, it means as much content as you can possibly publish.

But, in order to do that, you – as an ordinary business owner, not a web developer – will need to be able to access and use your website. You need to be able to change things as things naturally change, update as things need updating, add a blog post once a week and upload PDFs and photos when required. So, you need to be able to use your website yourself from day one; it’s fundamental to SEO.

If you’ve had a fancy new custom built, bespoke website designed, which looks all designer-y and amazing on the front end, but which you can’t use, then you’re scuppered, mate.

You can’t be going back to your web agency every week and asking them to upload a blog post for you. For one thing, it’s just not practical, but for another it’ll cost you a blinking fortune (we’ve known web companies that charge £100 a pop regardless of how big a change they’re making; you can’t pay that every time you need to do something to your website).

Hence, you need to make sure that, from the beginning, you have a web designer who understands SEO, and thus understands your need to be able to easily use your website. That doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be built in WordPress (although that is, in my humble opinion, the easiest platform to use), but it does mean it needs to be built in a way that makes life easy. And that, most importantly, makes your website optimisable.

Let GrowTraffic Build You An SEO Ready Website

As I’ve already mentioned, GT are experts in SEO and Web Design, so we can make sure your brand new website is SEO ready right from the beginning. From the design, through to the web content, layout and onsite optimisation prior to launch, we can do it all, so we make sure your website stands the best chance of succeeding online from the minute it goes live.

We can then work with you afterwards to make sure your website traffic grows and you get new business, because, after all, that’s what the whole thing was about, wasn’t it?

If you’d like to find out more, you can contact us by phoning 0161 706 0012 or emailing

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