Which Comes First – SEO or Website Design?

Often when marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners make the decision to improve their online presence, they are presented with a recommendation to design and build a new website, or to search engine optimize, depending on the focus and abilities of the agency or vendor.

So, which should come first…search engine optimization (SEO), or Website Design or Re-design?

Ideally, you want to integrate both SEO and design when updating a website or online presence.
Here’s why:

Search Engine Optimization is meant to improve organic visibility of your website to your target audiences on search engines. Search engine visibility is vital EVERY business today.

Website Optimization leverages your website’s GUI or user experience to greet and promote visitor interactivity toward a desired outcome such as a response or sale.

You must deliberately plan, design and build your site to be search engine friendly to reach target audiences on Google, Yahoo, etc. and know that your website is prepared to convert those visitors to “customers” (whatever a customer is to your organization).

So,where should you start?
Consider the approach you may take when you are preparing for an open house or when VIPs are coming to visit your office. If you aren’t ready to receive company, don’t send out the invitation.

Many companies plan to optimize after the site has been designed, developed and gone live, unknowingly realizing that this approach may results in undoing or redoing specific components of the site to enable it to support the organization’s goals. You can optimize an existing site, but if you are planning a new website design or content rewrite, it makes more sense to have optimization integrated into that process, saving valuable time and money if the website is outsourced to an outside firm.

Whenever possible,
Optimize your website first!

Here’s why:

The time, money and resources you invest in getting people to your site is wasted if your site is not:

  • search engine optimized to reach qualified audiences via search engines with the keywords that they are using to seek your products or services.
  • usability optimized to promote the desired response from targeted website visitors. (sale, lead, contact, submission, enrollment, etc.)

Being #1 on Google search engine rankings, paying many thousands of dollars for direct marketing, Google Adwords, pay-per-click, or email marketing means nothing if those words are not reaching your most qualified audiences. This is where search engine optimization comes into play.

If you lose your audience once you get them to your website and your investment fails to produce a return, your website is not meeting the needs of your audience, which means you must consider optimizing the website’s usability.

How to optimize the usability of your website:

1. Know your audience.
Conducting the proper research and analysis BEFORE you begin planning or building a website is a wise investment that will more than pay for itself when you know you are providing what they are looking for. Acquiring the proper data to drive your user experience can be done through focus groups, website statistical analysis, surveys, or a combination thereof to have the data that will drive a proactive website strategy from which to build an optimized website user experience.

2. Enhance your web site’s value to your target audience.
Make it worth their time, even if they don’t “buy” the first time.

3. Keep them coming back.
Implement best practices to promote familiarity and relevance to encourage your audience to dig deeper into your website, support viral marketing efforts and return again and again.

4. Read their minds.
Properly manage content and calls-to-action while continually monitoring and managing the user experience and content produce and improve measurable results.

5. Be the top dog.
Strategically positioning your value proposition and benchmark yourself against competitor to gain trust and promote sales.

6. Converting website visitors to customers to impact the bottom line
Measure, Manage, Optimize & Repeat.

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