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PSA: Talk to An SEO Consultant Before Your Web Designer

SEO is usually last on the list when designing your website, but not thinking about SEO from the beginning will cost you time and money.

I’ve seen the same story time and time again: a clueless small business owner comes to me asking for SEO advice, only for me to tell them their website needs a lot of work.

“But I just paid a designer!”

Most SEOs have heard the same story. It’s unfortunate it happens this way, so as a public service announcement I feel compelled to give you the takeaway right now:

An SEO consultant should be working with your web design company before the “design” part even starts. Click To Tweet

I’ve found that too many times SEO becomes the end strategy for a project that should have had it included from the very start. SEO isn’t an afterthought.

Here’s the reality: if you don’t want to waste hundreds — or potentially thousands — of dollars and tons of time redoing work that should have been done right the first time you need to bring an SEO consultant on board to help design your website.

An SEO Consultant Creates The “Why” For Your Website

The creative process follows a different path and often times can conflict with the goals of SEO. Sure, you can still walk away with a beautiful website — but will anyone ever find it? If your on-page SEO sucks and your site architecture is all over the place you’ll be fighting an uphill battle from day one. You’ll also be throwing money down the toilet.

SEO is not just about showing up in search engines. It has evolved to become a discipline that includes more than just gaming Google. Any SEO consultant worth their salt knows their skills need to go beyond link building.

Your SEO consultant should have a skillset that includes:

It’s the combination of these skills that allow an SEO consultant to put together a strategy for your website. If you start a web design project without a clearly defined goal in mind you’re going to end up disappointed with the outcome.

You may be happy with the “look”, but if your website doesn’t send you any new customers, what’s the point?

Getting Started: Website Design Using An SEO First Strategy

Ultimately, every business owner looking for a website wants to reach more customers.

The “look” of your website should be the output of understanding the most important action visitors should take when reaching your site.

A good SEO consultant will run through a checklist of items to make sure the entire project is executed with your business goals in mind. They will have questions and you should be prepared to answer them.

In the end, you’ll both have a better understanding of:

  • Your business and industry. You may not get much insight here, but the information you give your consultant will help them tremendously in forming the overall strategy going forward.
  • The goals of your website. Do you need leads? Want people to consume your content? Will people be buying directly from your website? The goal you decide on here will shape the content and design decisions that happen later.
  • The competitive landscape. Business does not exist in a vacuum. Keeping a close eye on the competition will give you a better understanding of what’s working (and what’s not), so you can use this insight to make the right decisions.
  • What keywords to target. Knowing what keywords to target before entering the design process allows you to make better decisions on the content you will produce, the pages you will need, and the language used by your audience.
  • How to structure your site. Site architecture is important for SEO and conversion. When you have defined a goal and figured out what keywords are important to your business the design process becomes a lot less complex.

Next Steps: Giving Your Design Team Everything They Need

Fortunately for you, following this guide will allow you to avoid some of the common pitfalls of web design. If you have ever worked with a designer before, you know what I’m talking about.

Common pitfalls of a poorly planned web design project:

  • Endless back and forth emails
  • Misunderstandings
  • Frustration
  • Project fatigue

The reality is it’s usually the client and the designer who are responsible for website projects going to hell. The designer — as the professional — should have a process in place for onboarding and educating clients, but you (as the client) need to have a crystal clear idea of your own needs in order to be happy with the final product.

This is why working with an SEO consultant when designing your website is so important. A good SEO eliminates friction and works with the design company to make their beautiful design function as good as it looks.

Marketing jack-of-all-trades, ascendant wordsmith, and self-proclaimed World’s Best Dog Dad. I write about SEO, social media and content marketing.