Offering SEO Before The Site Is Developed

Jul 2, 2009 • 9:01 am | comments (16) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

A HighRankings Forum thread has discussion around a topic I can relate with. My company, RustyBrick, builds out custom web software and sites, including iPhone apps. I often get new customers coming to me with their request to build them a web site. They are clueless about SEO and honestly, don't have the time or care to learn about it.

So we build the site for them, whatever it might be (e-commerce, CMS, social networking, etc), to the best of our ability. It is incredibly search engine friendly, with all the nice link structure, proper coding, dynamic 301s, 404s, XML sitemaps, and so on. So they got themselves a nice search engine friendly web site without knowing it.

My company does not do the content development, we just build the code and the design and make a working site structure. So when it comes time for the client to build out unique, useful and superior content, in most cases, they do not. They either don't understand the value, are too lazy or too dumb.

Some get the whole SEO thing right away, but many do not. Many will come to me later and ask about ways to get traffic. I will then explain to them the whole SEO bit. If I see the client doesn't get it, I'd recommend they seek out an SEO company.

You see, for companies like mine that build sites up from scratch, it is not easy to explain the value in SEO, before the site has potential to get traffic. But for SEO companies to show value in a site that sits without traffic, it is a tad easier.

HighRanking moderator BBCoach said the same thing that I did. Do you find the same issue with new site builds and clients?

Forum discussion at HighRanking Forums.

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07/02/2009 01:51 pm

Seems to me it would be easier to just come up with standard written explanation of a search-friendly site, and why it's valuable (and how it helps get mor traffic), and then just include that blurb with whatever other communication you normally give out to clients. Include links that point them elsewhere for "more info". This should save you time because they won't have to come back to you with those questions.

Barry Schwartz

07/02/2009 01:56 pm

Dazz, issue is, many won't bother reading it.

Kandi Humpf

07/02/2009 02:00 pm

It's always scary to me how many companies don't want to worry about seo until after their site is built. They think they need a website because everybody else has one and they don't think about how that website can help or hurt their business. These are usually the same companies that are trying to get a website built as cheaply as possible. In the end, they end up costing themselves more money because we usually have to tear down and start over. Not always, but usually. I like development companies like yours. You know enough about seo to plan it into the site architecture but you don't want to specialize in it. I want to specialize in Internet marketing but I'd rather partner with development companies.

Barry Schwartz

07/02/2009 02:09 pm

100%, I cant stand seeing new web sites built without thinking about search engines. It makes me sick.

Laura Sultan

07/02/2009 02:18 pm

Most of the individuals who approach my web design company know they will benefit from having a web site, but they don't have a grasp of the value of professional web copywriting and search engine optimization as part of the strategic planning of a new web site. I understand that budgets are limited, but I try to emphasize that getting it right the first time will always save money in the long run. Unfortunately, this can be a hard sell. They say, "Let's just get the site online with the content we have and we'll do that later."

Cory Howell

07/02/2009 02:56 pm

We run into the same problem all the time, although we are the marketing company & not the designer. Our best results have come when we're able to do a lot of the research & SEO planning during (or before) the design process so that everything is ready to perform once the site launches. Of course, there is always the "why am I not getting traffic" for the first little while, and longer w/ some clients who don't invest in the SEO work or understand it. From our experience also, some designers claim to know SEO and build sites w/ considerations for it, however, most are over-hyping their capabilities and service offerings (cuz they stink at SEO).


07/02/2009 02:57 pm

I'd imagine that for anyone worth their salt, it'd be easy to explain the benefits of SEO to anyone, regardless before or after they get the site. You can use examples from your own experience or your partners or friends or friendly competitors. If a SEO company hasn't yet optimized an existing well linked site, it has to explain the benefits of optimizing the site the same way you do. The only difference is that you add "when/if you get awesome content and links to get you noticed in the search engines".

Carolyn Shelby

07/02/2009 03:21 pm

SEO *needs* to be incorporated into the design process of a website. Yeah, you can give a client a "how-to" guide, but is their developer going to bother with it? Will the client? The bigger sites/large corporations tend to have so many cooks in the kitchen that you really should have someone overseeing the development and monitoring plans and progress with an eye on SEO. A little SEO on the development side can save you from spending a ton of time and money trying to fix bad decisions that were built into the CMS. I have a slide from a presentation I did at SMXW last year about this... here it is (had to find it).... <a href="" rel="nofollow">Where SEO belongs in the SDLC</a>

Barry Schwartz

07/02/2009 03:24 pm

People, I am not saying you don't make sure the site is not SE friendly. I AM NOT SAYING THAT! ;-)


07/02/2009 07:18 pm

Big difference here. There's building a site in an "SEO friendly" fashion, and then there's actually optimizing a site in terms of SEO.

Barry Schwartz

07/02/2009 08:27 pm

I titled this post wrong. :(


07/03/2009 02:41 am

Great post. It can be frustrating explaining the process of SEO to clients who are novices. Many clients (and prospects) don't understand that it can take up to 6 months to start seeing search engine traffic.

Bill Marshall

07/03/2009 01:08 pm

This is one of the classic problems, particularly in the small to medium enterprise market and the wizz-kid entrepreneur market. Increasingly I tend to ask "why do you want a website" as my first question, even before they get a chance to ask how much it will costs them. If they haven't thought about that then they almost certainly haven't thought about content, let alone any of the other key SEO questions. If you let them proceed without this then either their site is doomed or your profit margin is doomed if you try to be the good guy and help them as they go along.

No Name

07/04/2009 11:45 am

I do agree and also add as hard as it is to clue people in and possibly loose a much need sale in these bad times . I have to make sure they understand a great interactive web sie and the best SEO is not a magic bullet...It is the least you need but not an instant big profit builder

Justin Seibert

07/06/2009 02:27 pm

@Barry - it's a good post. I can't tell you how many companies I still run into that wonder in awe why their site doesn't automatically come up at the top of the serps as soon as it's launched (without any seo effort or, most times, se friendly design). I think it is something you need to explain in the beginning and I would agree with DazzlinDonna that you should put it in writing. That way when the people come back to you six months later wondering why they aren't flooded with customers you can point to the previous conversation and contract / email. Most will still have questions, but they can't say at that point that you didn't do everything to explain the benefits to them ahead of time.

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