Web Design and SEO – An Unequal Partnership?

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A marketer I know and respect said to me:

“with all of the open source content management systems and free templates seemingly by the million, it must be great for businesses today because they don’t have to pay £1000s for their websites”.

He’s right of course – but that is only half the story. In the complex relationship between web design and SEO, the shift is definitely towards SEO. This is something businesses need to take account of – and budget for. For too long, businesses considered web design and SEO as the same process and agencies, with their often historic background in branding and graphic design, were complicit in this.     While a great deal of time, energy and expenditure was spent on the web design side, little or no attention was paid to the amount of work required to make the SEO element work. Perhaps a bit of ‘on-page’ SEO was carried out, but not much else. Now the web design and SEO dynamic has changed irrevocably. Web design is still important of course but it has very little value in itself – the most beautiful website is only a success if it achieves its aim of delivering business cost-effectively.  And it’s now true that for most small or medium sized businesses using open source CMS like Joomla or WordPress [and the free or low-cost templates designed for them] that they can now build great websites without it breaking the bank. The available plug-ins and almost future poof nature of the most popular CMS software is an essential factor for any business looking to grow. So while the budget for web design is greatly reduced, the spend on SEO in all its various aspects is probably increasing. The investment needs to be based on sound financial planning, including ROI, but it needs to done and should probably also include :

  • ‘Traditional’ SEO centred around keywords and ‘on-page’ SEO
  • Ethical ‘off-page’ SEO and link building
  • New media
  • Blogging
  • Social Media marketing

And those agencies involved in web design and SEO are now showing businesses the value of an integrated online strategy – not just delivering a pretty website. While many aspects of internet marketing are getting easier and lower in cost, maintaining and indeed improving online performance is a dynamic process that still requires help from professional web design and SEO specialists that have a proven track record in delivering results.

Image credit – Lord James [Web Developer]

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