Poof! One day your website is high in the search engine rankings. The next day, it’s tanking, thanks to a website re-design. Breathing new life into a website with a fresh design can be the website’s kiss of death if designed without a conscious strategy to—at the very least maintain and preferably enhance search engine visibility.
Unfortunately, we see it happen for a number of reasons. Someone new at the company takes over website management and decides to make changes, like replacing keyword-rich text, unknowingly diminishing the website’s visibility. Pages are added or expanded internally without realizing changes compromised the overall equation for achieving site optimization. High-ranking pages get deleted from the existing site without providing a redirect to an existing page; now, when someone clicks on a search engine result, they may simply get, “Page not found.” In our book, that means customer not found.
Companies sometimes hire a web designer who is exactly that—a designer. While talented designers can certainly create visually attractive websites, many are not knowledgeable or experienced in search engine marketing or optimization. We’ve seen beautiful, professionally redesigned websites built completely in Flash or start with Flash introductions. Search engines do not see website content contained in Flash programming and, in a flash, you’re gone! Unless your exact website URL is known, no one can find you anymore. We’ve seen other sites built in frames. Search engines are also challenged by frames. Some companies turn their site over to the IT department, which, for ease of maintenance and efficiency, creates a database-driven site. Search engines don’t do well with database-driven information. Lastly, companies hoping to save a few bucks, try managing their own content after a site is properly built. As content changes, so does visibility. Later, they wonder why their site doesn’t show up as well as it once did in the search engine results.
We have a very keen appreciation for creative strategy and understand its importance. But we also understand its role. It cannot supplant the importance of being found, first. A disciplined website design firm understands and can balance creative design and content with search engine marketing and optimization strategies. Even better, a good SEO firm delivers both.
So, can you split responsibilities between a designer and SEO firm? Certainly. But it often raises the potential for an inefficient and more costly implementation process, so we don’t recommend it. We had one client do exactly that. Wanting a redesigned and optimized site, they elected to have Proteus SEO develop content and turn it over to the designer who built their original site. In the end, the client spent more—bringing us back into the process later to direct the designer on site construction optimization strategies. The designer had to learn new concepts and strategies and redo some site architecture and construction to make it work.
Use the same firm for design and optimization and be sure they are experts at both. It will save time and money. Whoever re-designs your website, they should want to know:
You’ll want to be sure they:
Have the ability to understand what you do, what you want to achieve, and how to properly convey that information in a way that speaks not only to search engines, but also to your prospects.