Why Developers and Marketers Should Be in the Same Room
This is the first of many articles about the intricacies behind web-development/design and SEO – two fields that are commonly segregated in many businesses today, but shouldn't be. This is where I make my case that they are more linked than you might have thought possible.
One of the first things I learned when I was an up-and-coming web developer was the importance of SEO. As my career continued, I kept finding myself rubbing elbows with SEO marketers and soon learned that their skill is extremely technical.
I'm not going to lie, assuming marketers were doing technical work was something I would have never guessed when I was a young developer. I thought surely they weren't doing the same level of technical work as me, but I soon learned how wrong I was.
Development and SEO Marketers Have a Lot to Talk About
Nowadays I find SEO marketers are some of my favorite people to work with. They are like a first-cousin to those in development, and the work both developers and SEO experts do is very much laced together.
There are fundamental things about HTML that both developers and SEO experts (should) know. Things like: How are headings used properly? What's the ever-shifting importance of keywords and meta-data and how do you get those into a page? Where do you put the tracking code? Things like this need to be mutually understood between both web developers and SEO specialists.
That's why I argue that you need to have your developers and SEO specialists in the same room. It is generally a bad idea to hire a developer to build your site and then hire someone separately to do your SEO. Your best bet is to find a complete team of fantastic developers, designers and marketers for your website project.
Although there are many reasons for this, the first and one of the most important reasons is that your developer can really set your SEO specialist up for success or failure. A web developer (and to some degree, web designer) with a strong understanding of SEO practices is going to properly build a given website with tried and true structure and usability for a given SEO specialist. On the contrary, a web developer that does not take into account SEO best practices can really hamstring your SEO specialist. This sounds like it should never happen, but I've personally seen it happen, a lot.
We're talking like a 70% loss in website traffic due to a poor website build.
To use a metaphor, imagine you own a Formula 1 racing team. You probably have a number of specialists, one of which is your actual driver (SEO specialist) and some others, like mechanics (web developers). That driver cannot do his/her job without a well-engineered car (website). You could have the best driver ever in the history of racing, but if that car is poorly constructed, the driver will perform mediocrely, at best.
Bad HTML Can Affect Search Rank
Having two individuals with different specialties speaking the same language is important. I'm going to throw some (really bad) HTML out here; don't freak out:
If you show this to a web developer, they should be able to tell you what's wrong with it. It's bad form at best, and could cause rendering issues at worst. If you show it to an SEO expert, they might first notice that the <h1> and <h3> are out of order. However, what's important here is that they are able to talk to each other about what's wrong with it.
For one, a developer/designer carelessly placing the <h3> before the <h1>, or duplicating the use of the <h1> is bad news all around for search engines. That will drive SEO specialists up a wall.
Another issue that could mess with SEO value is the fact that the <ul> (unordered list) isn't being utilized properly. It could also cause a validation error. Also, there's an extra closing </div> tag – which is bad form and also could cause a validation error. Have enough invalid code on your site, and you could take a hit on your search engine rankings. take out the &nsbp;
I could go on, but the main point is this: If your web developers and SEO specialist can't look at something like this and speak the same language as to why it's poor execution, then you have a problem.
If your developers and SEO experts aren’t in the same room, they should at least be under the same roof. If they’re not, you’d better hope they’re excellent at long-distance communication – or get comfortable being on the 12th page of Google results.
And if you’re interested, our developers work within shouting distance of our SEO team. Find out more.