Does This Sound Like Your Web Designer?

Written: 26-May-2009 | | Filed under: Website Design

Just came across this fabulous list from Jill Whalen (of the High Rankings forum) over at Search Engine Land: 85 Reasons Why Website Designers/Developers Keep SEOs in Business. Should have seen it sooner, but it was the Memorial Day holiday weekend and I was AFC (Away From Computer). What can I say?

Expertise in one field doesn’t equal expertise everywhere

I’ve said it before elsewhere; not sure if I’ve said it here yet, though. So just in case, I’ll say it again: just because somebody “does” web design or site development, this doesn’t mean they “get” SEO. Sure, all those tasks have something to do with websites, but they require very different skill sets and experience.

Hiring a designer to do SEO for you is a bit like being a general contractor building a house, and figuring as long as the electrician is in there running wires, you might as well get him to do the plumbing and install the insulation, too. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

I’m not disparaging web designers or developers. They are both specialized professions with their own required skills. It can take years to properly develop expertise in either area. All I’m saying is, it’s the same thing with SEO. The tactics and techniques for optimizing a site can’t be learned overnight, and they should not be something a web designer or developer can simply “tack on” to their existing services.

To be sure, there are some designers and developers who honestly do know what they’re doing. They’re pretty rare (and, as you might expect of true web Ninja experts, often quite expensive), but they do exist.

There can be consequences

But unless a designer or developer has taken the time to really learn SEO (I mean really learn what works and what doesn’t, not just skim a few articles and declare themselves “educated”)… unless they’re willing to invest the effort to constantly test techniques, learn new tactics and update their SEO skills… then you (as a client) may be shooting yourself in the foot if you hire them to “do SEO” for your site.

Some of the bad ideas presented in Jill’s list are simply ineffective. But some cause actual harm — up to (and including) deleting your entire site from the search results. It does not pay to take chances with SEO, folks.

Misinformation abounds

Sadly, there’s misinformation o’plenty floating around the web about SEO. (None of it to be found here, of course! 🙂 ) Some of this misinformation is simply outdated and some of it is just plain ol’ flat-out wrong. The problem is, even the wrong and outdated stuff is often presented with a great deal of authority. Some SEOs are enamored of declaring their opinions as though they were proven, immutable facts. And just because someone seems to be well-known is no guarantee they actually know what they’re talking about.

So in a lot of cases, the only way to separate the stupid stuff from the real deal is to test it out for yourself. This is what “real SEOs” (and in-house webmasters like me who do their own SEO) will do. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, it’s not what a majority of web designers / developers who offer “SEO” services do.

Check the list

Take a look at Jill’s list. See if anything on there looks or sounds familiar. Is it stuff your designer or developer has advocated? If you’re a do-it-yourselfer SEO, is any of it stuff you’ve fallen into believing?

If so, might be time to indulge yourself in a little continuing education… learn for yourself what works and what doesn’t. If you choose to DIY your SEO, this knowledge will stand you in good stead. And if you choose to outsource SEO, at least you’ll be in a position to better evaluate proposals and project plans from your service vendors.

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