5 Signs Your Web Designer Knows Nothing About SEO
Hi! I’m Christina. I’m an SEO. It’s what I do full-time for a living. You know why? Because it takes one person (me) at least 40 hours a week to do all that’s necessary for 5 or so clients. It’s all I can do to keep up with the daily demands on my time and makes sure I am doing all that’s necessary on-page and off-page to make sure my clients rank higher and get the kind of quality traffic I told them was possible.
My BF (best friend, or boyfriend? OR BOTH? You decide!) is a web developer. Full time. 40 hours a week (at least) of taking assets from a PR firm and converting them into working awesome websites that are perfect regardless of which browser you’re looking at.
Yet another friend of mine is a graphic designer. He spends about 60 hours a week (he’s insane) taking the vague, nebulous “I kinda like bricks. Can you create for me a background that’s sorta brick-like, but not TOO brick-like.” requests from crazy people and codifying that nonsense into awesome well thought-out, engaging designs for websites. AND he now leaves room for blocks of text in his designs ’cause I threatened his life if he didn’t.
So when some web designer comes along and says “I Build Search Engine Friendly Web Sites And Specialize in Usability and Graphic Design,” I say “You and what army, buddy?!” Because, honestly, each one of those separate elements is one person’s full time job.
The most egregious cross-crafting claims seem to come from web development/design firms. I’ve seen a rash of it lately, and it’s ticking me off, so I’m going to embark on the web-designer-disparaging rant that every SEO seems to indulge in at least once in their career.
If you’re a small business owner or indeed anyone shopping around for web designers/developers, this post is for you, so listen up. If you wouldn’t ask the following questions, listen way harder, ’cause you totally should.
Sign #1 That Your Web Designer Knows Bubkus About SEO:
During the web designers sales pitch, you say “I’m concerned about the Search Engines’ ability to access and properly index my site. Consequently, I’d like to know what kind of code you’ll be using to render the major design elements of my site.” and they answer:
c. It doesn’t matter
d. I am be coding very well, it’s ok.
Sign #2 That Your Web Designer Knows More About the Flight Patterns of African Swallows than SEO
After the first answer, you start thinking, damn I better quiz this guy a bit more. After all I can stipulate how I want my code written, right? Maybe they’ll still prove acceptable. So, you ask “What would you recommend for home page content?” and they smile knowingly and say:
a. A splash page that asks the user whether or not they want the Flash version of the site or the HTML version
b. A splash page that is a one-time intro and that is bypassed after it has planted a cookie in the user’s browser
c. A copy-less page with huge, high-def pictures of your products that play on an embedded flash player, and one link to the “contact” page.
d. I am making you very good a home page with many links and picture movies.
Swing and a miss you naughty developer you. Splash pages are an SEO nightmare. Doubly so when they lead to two different versions of the site. Forget the duplicate content issues, think of total void of index-able copy that most of these types of pages suffer from. Also, Search Engines don’t download cookies, so in the case of suggestion B, the SE will never get past your crappy splash page or index any internal pages on the site. If the SEs have nothing to index, THEY WON’T INDEX ANYTHING!
Sign #3 That Your Web Designer Wouldn’t Know Good SEO if it Jumped Up and Bit Them on the…Face.
By now, you should be running far, far away. If the dude or dudette who told you they do web design AND SEO has given you any of the previously mentioned answers, for the love of little green apples, find someone who can do better. However, if you feel like torturing yourself or just getting a good laugh, ask them the following question: “What’s the difference between a 301 redirect and a 302 redirect?” You’ll likely get the following answers:
a. Nothing. They accomplish the exact same task: taking the user from a defunct page and sending them to another.
b. Did some crappy SEO set me up?
c. Ever heard of a meta refresh redirect? Duh, everyone’s using them now.
d. I am seeing no need to worry about redirecting. We’ll take care of it.
And fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, don’t ever let someone tell you redirects are unimportant especially if you’re switching over a site that ranks great to a new design with different URLS. It will totally, totally screw you over.
Sign #4 That Your Web Designer Knows Less about SEO than my 95 Year Old Grandma
The question “What will the URLs look like?” is answered any of the following ways:
a. It depends on how the user got to the page. There is a bunch of parameter stuff and you don’t need to worry about it.
b. They’re dynamically generated. The search engines won’t care. Lots of sites have dynamically generated URLs.
c. Look at this cool session id…