Over the last few years, I’ve been meeting people who claimed to be professional SEOs but then went on to say that they didn’t “do web design.” I find it difficult to believe that someone who excels at SEO does not know how to create a website. The two are largely intertwined, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
That said, I’ll break down three areas worthy of a definition. Before the SEO people and web design people blast these definitions, I ask you, the reader, to keep in mind that they are pretty broad. But you get the idea.
First, there was the web designer! A web designer’s role is typically to design a website graphically, cut up the design and insert it into a template format using HTML and CSS. They may add programming to a site but anything significant is typically performed by a website developer with specialized training in programming. Programs that web designers often use include Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and direct hard-coding programs as simple as notepad. Either way, most web designers suck because basic web design is fairly easy to learn and “anyone can do it” but anything substantial requires real commitment and most people simply aren’t that committed. Although the time is coming for companies to hire the real deal if they want to make money as the Internet becomes much more competitive.
Then the search engine optimization (SEO) people came along. Early on they learned to register with search engines, use a meta-tag generator (and “just this code to your website and it will work”) and of course, buy links for people and wait for website rankings to rise. As SEO become increasingly complex, important, and difficult to implement properly, we entered the era of the SEO web designer.
SEO Web Designer
Finally, SEO web designers entered our lives. Since SEO cannot be taught in school, they consisted mainly of forward thinking web designers (and in fact came from many areas of Internet-related professions, making the concept of what it means to be an “SEO” a somewhat difficult one to define).
The SEO web designer is the one you want. You no longer want someone who just knows about design but rather the person who reads the research and figures out what makes people find your site and buy from your company, based on the design. Sadly, to this day, there are actually web designers who have never heard of SEO or don’t know the first thing about the topic and still expect to make a living.
Next, the social media people wandered in. But that’s a whole other story.