Most people probably assume some level of optimization goes into website development but usually this is not the case. Most often, SEO, if performed at all, comes much later when the stakeholders ask the marketing team why their site doesn’t show up for certain keywords. Search engine optimization is not normally involved in the web development process, though it definitely should be. Behind the scenes, unless there is a process in place, it can be difficult to weave SEO into the website development project plan.
So where does it fit in and why is it so important to perform SEO during website development?
The truth is that this is not news to SEO’s or most website developers but making it work is a different story. The answer to the question above is that SEO should fit into almost every aspect of you website development project plan. It should be part of the functional specifications document and outlined every step of the way. Ideally, there should be an SEO on the development team or at least consulting with the lead engineers and project managers.
This is important because by not integrating SEO into the whole development process, you can end up spending more money and time later on, trying to get it right. When you are talking about rolling out an existing site to a new platform, this is crucial. If the current site has rankings and even some of the smallest steps are missed, you could disappear from the SERPs (which ultimatley will cost you revenue and more costs related to fixing the issues).
Steps to consider when including SEO in the developement process:
- What are the goals of the website and how will certain keyword rankings support those goals?
- What is the defined keyword strategy and how will it be applied to title and meta descriptions?
- How will the important pages monetize and what are the necessary calls to action?
We must consider how SEO will affect the development process from day one. SEO should be considered during the follow steps (but not limited to):
- Discovery period – to define the goals, functionality, site map, content needed, etc.
- Functional specifications and project plan – to define HOW and WHERE SEO will play a role in each step
- Site map and wire frames – to ensure site architecture and layout abides by SEO guidelines
- Design – to ensure the proper balance of design, functionality, and SEO friendliness
- QA – SEOs should be a part of the QA especially when performing a redevelopment and rolling out a new site (i.e. 301 redirects)
- Hard launch – to ensure the site is properly submitted to the search engines and is being properly indexed
So what is the takeaway? SEO is always important ans should be a part of the process (but not because I say so). Make sure the firm building your new website understands SEO and will build for optimization. A site will never rank well without the basics of SEO architecture, and that starts in development.