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SEO And Web Design: Which Should Come First?

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James Cummings
April 02, 2019

James Cummings
James Cummings has written 6 articles for JavaScriptSearch.
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If you ask a group of people which came first: the chicken or the egg? You are bound to have differing answers. Likewise, if you ask whether SEO should be started before or after website design, you will get conflicting responses.

Knowing when SEO implementation should start on a new website is a contentious topic in the tech world. Some people are of the opinion that it should be done after the website design is ready and finished while others believe it should be done simultaneously with web design. Both parties have reasonable justifications for their answers. However, at the end of the day, you need more than a cavalier debate to win you over. You need the opinion of industry experts.

If you still do not know the ideal time to incorporate SEO techniques into your website, the answer is during the web design process. Not after the web design, or before the launch of your website, but hand in hand with web design. In today’s digital world, your website is the centre of your business. The bulk of your traffic is from organic search. Still, most businesses do not bother about SEO until having a website designed. The final product may look glamorous and sleek but without the marketing techniques added during the design time, it would be hard to make a splash in the SEO pool.

Website SEO is a fundamental to your online success. Regardless of whether you are launching a brand new website or a redesign for an already existing website, SEO should start alongside web design. UX, web design and SEO are all inseparable. Therefore, SEO should continue throughout the UX, web design and web building process.

If your site is not built to be SEO-friendly, it will be difficult for search engines to crawl your site. Correcting this major oversight will cost a lot of time and resources. On the other hand, a site designed with SEO in mind will be indexed and ranked by search engines. This will increase both traffic and revenue.

Reasons why you should start your SEO alongside web design

Google punishes new websites: One of the ranking factors Google uses is domain age. New domains are in fact punished for a 2-3 month period after being indexed. It may seem unfair to the new domains but during that period, Google tries to figure you out. Look at it as some type of probationary period.

As a serious-minded business owner, it is of utmost importance that you have an experienced SEO professional work to establish domain authority and trust with the new domain during this period. That way, this period of “timeout” will be well behind you before the launch of your new business.

Save time and money: To design, build and optimise  a good website costs a lot of money. Failure to incorporate the basic technical SEO checkpoints might lead to having to redesign your website again. If you do not SEO your site during web design, it would be almost impossible to get it done later. The cost of optimising would be higher than the actual benefit.

Technical details such as using flash files, using subdomains, counter-intuitive navigation and others can only be changed with great technical effort. Sometimes, it is impossible without reconstructing the entire site.

Build a strong branding from the get-go: after you launch your website, you would want people to share it and start building some organic traffic. In order to build a strong, targeted audience, you need to make a good impression. You have to give them the feeling that you’ve always been there. Having a dedicated SEO procedure done during the design phase of your website does just that.

Start receiving organic traffic from the beginning: Organic traffic means visitors find your website by typing specific words in the search engines. Building SEO from the onset affects the way your pages are further indexed by Google. If done properly, you will start receiving organic traffic. As your traffic increases, your website will soon make its way to the first search pages. This will ensure a steadier growth unlike paid advertising.

Fundamentals of building an SEO-friendly site

Building an SEO-friendly site requires a careful approach to representing your business and the services you provide. There are some core elements that set the stage for a well-optimised design process. They include:

Domains:Ensure your domain makes sense and relates to what you do. Also, all variations and subdomains should correctly point at the main site and redirect to a single canonical version of the site. A lot of people believe including keywords in the URL is a necessity. However, experts at Domains4Less | Cheap Domain Name Registration | Domains4Less posit that having your keywords as part of your domain name is not essential. What is essential is that all your subdomains 301 redirect back to the main URL.

CMS: The content management system you choose for your business can hugely influence how successful the website of your SEO is. There are three major content management systems; WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. WordPress is the most popular content management system in use but it doesn’t mean it is the best choice for al situations. The CMS you eventually settle for will play a great role in your site’s SEO.

Speed optimisation: It is crucial that you pay attention to the speed of your future website. Perform an audit to detect how long it takes your page to load and the bounce rate of your site. The evaluation will allow you to remove anything weighing down your site and enable it run more smoothly. You can check your speed on websites like Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom.

Optimise title tags: Implement keywords or their variations into the title tags of the website pages. This should be the first step when optimising a website to rank in search. The title tag of a page can serve as the first impression users and search engines see when performing searches around your targeted keywords. Use just one H1 per page, H2 for subheadings, H3 for subheadings of an H2 subheading, H4 for titles underneath H3, and so on. This will help structure your content.

Indexable content: if a search engine can easily crawl your site, it is considered SEO-friendly. In order for the site to be crawlable, the main content should be in HTML format. Web development and SEO teams always have a hard time choosing CSS, HTML, or JavaScript. Html is great for SEO but lacks the functionality that JavaScript brings. Because of this many developers use JavaScript to make the site look and function a certain way.

However, it takes Google a large amount of time to download, compile and execute JS code. Crawling and indexing your JS information is an uphill task for Google as opposed to HTML and CSS. Take note of that while designing your website.


It is best to think about SEO when designing your website, months before the actual launch of the website. Otherwise, there is no point having one. The secret to a well-designed yet SEO-compliant website is to bridge the gap between the web development and SEO optimisation process.

For this to happen, both teams should start at the same time and collaborate from the beginning. With coordinated efforts, you can achieve a beautiful site that is search engine-friendly.

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