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A While Back, I Said “Web Design Is SEO” — And It’s Even Crazier Today

It was last year sometime, I wrote a little post talking about how Net Profit Marketing’s secret was that our two areas of endeavor — web design and SEO — were actually more or less the same thing. It turns out that I was ahead of my time. In the year or so since then, big names like Search Engine Journal have had the same revelation (and they actually used the same picture I did for their article!).

Well, as it turns out, as Google has started to figure out that things like engagement matters and how to value social signals, web design is getting more and more increasingly entangled with every other aspect of building a business’ web presence.

It’s only smaller businesses and entrepreneurs who still even attempt to get a website made according to the Old Ways.

Old Ways?
The Old Ways were simple: you had an idea for an online business. You gave your idea to web designer to create the framework, then you got content from a writer to fill in the framework. Then you had your on-page SEO guy modify that content in order to be SEO-appropriate, your off-page SEO guy start building backlinks, and occasionally some other specialist like a PPC manager or whatnot work their magic. Each person did their own thing in their own space, with minimal understanding of what the others did.

That Doesn’t Fly Today
Modern website design has all but torn down the silos that each party used to work inside of. Today, if you have a small business site and you want it to succeed, you have to start by getting everyone in the same place and well involved. You have, according to Search Engine Watch, five basic elements to keep track of:

  • Design: A commingling of “what does the company want to accomplish?” and “how do we make this thing pretty enough to captivate yet simple enough to use?”
  • Usability: A mishmash of “is this tech usable on as many platforms as possible?” and “did the design team actually make this easy enough to use that even a lowest-End User can figure it out?”
  • SEO: SEO has expanded over the year to encompass not just link building, but social media manipulation, conversion rate testing and improvement — and, of course, the on-page SEO that has always been part of web design.
  • Content: Much more than just “the words on your page”, the Content creator also has the responsibility to ensure that meta-content pages like tag clouds, category pages, and internal linking structures are all maximized for SERP rankings.
  • Integration: the guy (team?) responsible for making sure that mobile users are taken into account in the web design, that social media users can share easily and effectively, and that the content is ready to show up in as many different venues as possible.

If you’re a one-man operation, you’ve got to have a heck of a lot more skills today than you did even just one year ago if you want your websites to compete — and even if you have five or more guys tag-teaming that stack of elements, you still have to have a pretty solid idea of what the other guys are doing so that you can talk to them effectively about what they’re doing right and wrong and how to improve.

Web design used to be SEO — today, it’s basically everything.

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