Why Web Designers Cannot Ignore SEO?

Why Web Designers Cannot Ignore SEO?

You are making a fatal mistake if search engine optimization (SEO) is not a component of your web design process. I know how easy it can be to completely forget about SEO or simply skim over it. This is why I co-founded “>My SEO Tool; a simple application for web designers to manage their SEO campaigns. This article will discuss the importance of SEO and how it can be easier to implement than you think.

Why Web Designers Cannot Ignore SEO?

SEO 101: The Fundamentals

Lets go over the basics in case you are unfamiliar with SEO or need to brush up on it. In a nutshell, this is the process of manipulating your website so that a search engine can associate it with a particular keyword phrase. The idea is to get a website ranked high in a search engine for a particular set of search phrases which will result in an increase in traffic.

To accomplish this task, you must focus on 3 main areas:

1. Keyword Selection

You must ask yourself, if someone was to use Google to find the product or service that you offer, what search term would they use to find it? In other words, put yourself into the shoes of your targeted customer. To do this, try brainstorming as many keyword phrases as you can and then choose the best one’s based on competition and search volume.

If no one is searching for the keyword you have selected then what is the point of trying to optimize for it. On the other hand, if it has a high search volume then it probably means you will be competing with many other websites trying to rank for that term. That being said, you need to select keyword phrases that have a nice balance between high search volume and low competition.

Keyword Selection

2. Optimization

Next, make sure your website is relevant to the keywords you have selected. A search engine will extract emphasized words from your website in order to determine which search terms your website should rank under. Generally, your keywords should be scattered throughout your page. If you can scan a web page and determine that the topic of the page matches the keyword you are trying to optimize for, then you have done your job. This is also known as on-page optimization and should be performed on every page that you wish to rank for. A few pointers to pay attention to:

  • Make sure your headings(ie. h1) contain your keyword phrase
  • Provide a unique title containing your keyword phrase for each of your pages
  • Name your pages based on their main keyword phrase (ie. /classic-cars.html)
  • Use text over images – the content in an image cannot be analyzed by a search engine and therefore will have no affect on SEO
  • Keep your website fast – do not use large images or other media as a search engine may penalize you for a slow site
  • Design a sitemap – search engines will have an easier time indexing your site if they can easily find all your internal links

3. Link Development

A search engine measures popularity based on the websites linking to yours. These incoming links are commonly referred to as backlinks. This is one of the more difficult components of SEO since it is not entirely under your control who links to your website. There are many ways to accomplish this, including directory submissions, blog posts and many others outlined in the graphic below:

Link Development

No matter how you get this done, remember that quality is better than quantity. Google will value a backlink originating from a reputable website much higher than one of lower quality. If you do have control over the anchor text used in the link, make sure it contains the keywords you are optimizing for. Using optimized keywords in your anchor text will have a drastic impact on your ranking as it will further solidify your websites relevancy to that particular keyword.

Unfortunately, the above crash course just touches on the major components of SEO and when it comes time to implementing these practices, there are many techniques to consider.

The Benefits of SEO

The ultimate result is of course to be positioned high in Google for a popular search term which will results in traffic to your website. If you can achieve this goal, you will experience the best form of online marketing to your website for many reasons:

The Benefits of SEO

1. A Great ROI
Successfully managing your own SEO campaign can deliver traffic without spending a ton of money.

2. Long Term Results
SEO is like the marketing campaign that never sleeps. Once you establish a noticeable presence in the search engines, you will begin to see an increasing consistency of traffic that will not disappear if properly maintained.

3. Targeted Traffic
If you control the search terms used to find your website, you also control the type of visitor / buyer that you will be coming through your door.

4. Improved Usability
By ensuring that your website properly describes the topic you are trying to represent, your visitors will have an easier time deciphering your message and navigating your website.

5. A Valuable Skill
If you offering web design services, SEO is a natural addon that you can offer to your clients. Not only will this further distinguish your company, but it will drastically increase revenues and give you a reason to charge an ongoing maintenance fee to maintain their website and SEO campaign.


Web design can be a very tough business. Competition can be tough depending on what geographic area you service. Adding SEO to your toolbox is a great way to attract new clients and keep existing customers happy.

Joe Kindness is one of the co-founders of mySeoTool.com – SEO Software for Web Designers to manage their clients and campaigns. Joe has always been actively involved in web development since discovering this passion at a young age. Having started many online businesses in the past, it is needless to say that his entrepreneurial spirit is high and will continue to grow.


  1. / Reply

    I hope the SEO knowledge is important in the web design and I will say if the designer don’t have any idea on SEO he is not a good designer, even though he is expert in photoshop and creative thinking.The designer build the basement of web site.If the basement is not good then the building will not survive for long time.

  2. / Reply

    Nice post but I do have to disagree with your comments regarding use of images.

    ‘Use text over images – the content in an image cannot be analyzed by a search engine and therefore will have no affect on SEO’

    If you place well named images in your content and the image is supported by a alt text description and the image is relevant to your content then this can get you unique visitors from Google images (and other search engine images)

    Depending on the content of your site you can generate lots of traffic just from the ‘image search’


  3. / Reply

    Great article. I must say I totally agree.

  4. / Reply

    Simple and to the point. Nice!

    Two things to add, if you don’t mind:

    1) You said, “The idea is to get a website ranked high in a search engine for a particular set of search phrases which will result in an increase in traffic.” While I don’t mean to parse words, the real goal is quality traffic and conversions. More is not better. Better is better. Too many people go for more and that’s what they get. However, that doesn’t necessarily translate into better leads, etc.

    2) The fact is, many clients are not SEO savvy, nor care to be. In more than one case I have regretted being as thorough as I was. What I considered to be standard best practices the client just saw as extra work for them to define all these things. In short, what clients say they want, and what they are willing to do are not always one in the same.

  5. / Reply

    Hi!. very nice!

    I´m web designer. my portfolio is http://www.sebasweb.net
    twitter: @sebasweb


    Merry Christmas!

    • Ramesh Vishwakarma,
    • December 15, 2010
    / Reply

    nice article… this help many designer who have no much idea about SEO friendly design.

  6. / Reply

    Good post, but still very basic. I think you just can’t make seo specialists from developers…
    But if they only would use this post, the world would be a better place. :)

    • Cristian Dorobantescu,
    • December 15, 2010
    / Reply

    In the past couple of weeks I’ve been writing why it’s important for a Web Designer to know a bit of SEO , a bit of increasing the conversion rates via usability and if it makes sense to learn CSS if you only do small websites. It looks like nowadays design is about more things, including SEO because:

    * the first thing will happen when the customer will go to a SEO company is that he’s going to receive a report how bad the site is. Which basically means that the customer “finds out that his brand new site is bad and to blame is the … Web designer that built it in the first place”. And that’s unlikely to help you get good references from that customer later.
    * there might be some changes that the SEO company would like to do on its own (yes, overwriting your code and work). And that means the future work on the site might go directly to the SEO company instead of going your way.
    * customers don’t just need a web page, they need a marketing tool. If the tool “doesn’t work” as expected, attract visitors and convert them into buyers it doesn’t serve its purpose. And that’s unlikely to get you more design work from the customer.

    Here is the last article that tries to answer another question: Should designers learn coding?

  7. / Reply

    As per my knowledge while designing the website design people and seo people together they will work and update theme. based on that designers will design the website.

  8. / Reply

    Article contains good information. Well we are SEO experts if anyone want to take our services plz visit our website for more details

  9. / Reply

    nice article….i think no one should ignore SEO, because its plays a major role in site stuffing….

  10. / Reply

    Where do you ever answer the question “Why Web Designers Cannot Ignore SEO?” Seems like a basic SEO article with the keyword “designer” thrown in to get some cheap pageviews.

  11. / Reply

    This is perhaps one of the most important blog entries I have found on the net. Every web design company or freelance internet marketers should read through it. Over and over designers are creating amazing looking websites for clients and businesses, however with the lack of any SEO efforts by these companies they are not able to get any conversions.

    Though images can be used for SEO (with the alt attribute), experience tells me that content at the end of the day is still “king” and you are better off with creating a design with more relevant content rather than image-stuffing your website. Of course this does not mean you compromise on quality.

    Based in Toronto, I’ve worked for a few SEO firms that either sell clients with poor website design on SEO or just do website design and are not able to do SEO properly. There are only a few services out there that really have it right, 9th sphere is one of those companies. Their whole focus is based on a dual-effort; check out this blog entry by them titled What comes first, design or content?: http://blog.9thsphere.com/blog/web-design-or-content-first

  12. / Reply

    Great article Joe!

    We’ve told our clients time and time again that you can have the most beautiful, technologically advanced website in the world, but without optimization and marketing, it’s nothing more than a fancy online brochure.

    If nobody can find your well-designed website, what’s the point?

    I think they should start teaching SEO techniques as part of the web design curriculum at every major college and university. A designer who’s an expert in SEO is an extremely huge commodity.

    Let’s not forget the growing importance of having a solid social media strategy. With real time search, pretty soon Twitter, Facebook and YouTube results will start to rank in the top of Google. We rambled about it on our blog the other day http://www.climaxmedia.com/blog/social-media-strategy-part-1

  13. / Reply

    I am having hard times to find the right keywords for my blog actually. I will definitely take your advices into consideration to make up my mind.

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