SEO And Website Development Go Hand In Hand
Few web developers appreciate the complex inter-relationship between website development and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Many will never have heard of SEO, and of those that have, quite a few consider it a ‘dark art’ practised by people in pointy hats and flowing robes. All stages of the website development process such as choice of domain name, site architecture, coding, content and web hosting involve choices which impact directly on the ability to optimise the website to achieve high search engine rankings.
There are a number of ways of ensuring that the development of a website takes due account of the site's SEO requirements.
An effective method of ensuring that a website is fully SEO compliant is to entrust its development to a firm with expertise in both website development and Search Engine Optimisation. The integrated SEO approach can be surprisingly cost effective, since Search Engine Optimisation is ‘built in’ to the site during the development process, rather than being ‘retro fitted’ when a site fails to perform as expected.
Optimising an existing, poorly constructed website is both time consuming and costly. The site will require radical restructuring and recoding to enable SEO to be implemented effectively. The main reason that the integrated SEO approach is not used more frequently is that there are few companies with the necessary expertise in both web development and SEO.
An alternative approach is either to contact a ‘pure’ web development company to build the site, or develop it in-house and employ a Search Engine Optimisation consultant to ensure that the site is constructed in a SEO compliant manner.
The Search Engine Optimisation consultant would usually meet with the developers to decide the main issues that need to resolved prior to the build such as technology, structure, naming conventions etc. A detailed SEO specification to be followed during the site’s construction would be provided. The SEO consultant would then oversee the project to advise on any Search Engine Optimisation issues which arose during the build and ensure that the SEO specification is followed.
Using the same SEO consultant to oversee the web development phase and then implement the Search Engine Optimisation phase ensures continuity. It is often the most practical method of ensuring that a website developed in-house is optimised effectively.
The usual scenario, when a website is commissioned, is for the contract to be awarded to a company which offers competitive rates for website development, without considering the SEO needs of the site. When the website fails to perform as expected, a specialist Search Engine Optimisation company is called in to optimise the site, a process which often means rebuilding the site from scratch. Thus the initially attractive option of using an inexpensive web developer ends up being the most expensive route to developing an effective website which achieves high search engine rankings.
Businesses inevitably find it difficult to assess the relative value of superficially similar services offered by an SEO company, a web developer or a company which has dual capabilities. There will always be pure web developers who can undercut the cost of website development which involves an SEO specialist, just as there will always be opportunistic Search Engine Optimisation companies quoting extraordinarily low prices for a service which has little or no merit.
Web development and SEO expenditure form the major part of a business’s long-term investment in its online presence. As with all investment decisions, judgement should be based more on quality and performance than on price.
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