December 19, 2014 | Sarah Danks

The fight continues between SEOs & designers/developers…

This morning I came across a great article by Neil Patel: 10 Things That SEOs & Developers Need to Know in Order to Work Successfully Together (actually, there are only eight things…but regardless, it’s a good list). Not only is this topic relevant because I’m in SEO; I have first-hand experience with everything on his list.

I’ve been an SEO since 2005, so I’m no stranger to the ever-waging war between developers (and designers) and search engine optimization people. What’s sad is, like Neil says, BOTH sides forget that they’re on the same team when the end goal is building the client a kick-a** website that’s both user-friendly AND findable on search engines.

Happily for me, I no longer have to worry about butting heads with the designer/developer, since we’re all on the same page here in the office (it’s SUCH a relief!). But believe me, tensions have run high between teams in other jobs I’ve had. In my experience, the biggest problem I had to overcome was Neil’s #3 scenario: Respect Each Other’s Skills.

He states that SEOs are usually the ones getting “stepped on” and are “treated like pond scum.” Sounds about right. Sadly, when we SEOs are spending more time defending our expertise than collaborating on the client work, it tends to make us defensive, angry and just all-around not interested in working with someone who’s constantly bashing our knowledge.

And, yes, are there SEOs who bash developers/designers? Of course it goes both ways. I just happen to have found that, since SEO is an industry wherein so many hacks have made everyone wary of the mere mention of “optimization,” we tend to have a rougher go of it getting our recommendations implemented.

The article does a great job of explaining how to work well together, but I think there’s one thing missing.

What SEOs & designers/developers REALLY have to know to work well together is…

I think the one thing Neil should’ve mentioned on his list is this: even before the SEO and development/design teams Start Working Together Early On In The Process of a single website, they need to sit down and talk about their best practices. I.e., WHY they recommend what they do, and HOW it affects overall usability/searchability/end goals, etc. They need to sit down and basically learn about each other’s side of the story. And before they leave the table they need to understand the other aspect and how it all weaves together to form the big picture.

If you wait until there’s a client website project to start discussing what needs to go where, without knowing WHY, then you’re bound to clash. It might seem blatantly obvious to people reading this that SEOs and developers AND designers need to know what the others do and why, but in my experience that wasn’t the case at all.

So, developer/designer? Be nice to the SEO person. And SEOs? Be nice to the developers/designers. Like Neil said, you’re on the same team. The end goal is building the CLIENT a website that works for their needs. The website is not being built to satisfy anyone’s ego.

So, how do you avoid the (nearly) inevitable war between the worlds of SEO and web development in your company?

Like I mentioned earlier, this issue is no longer an issue because I work for a company that’s all about the bass. I mean the client. We’re all on the same (web) page here, which is awesome.

But how does your business go about making sure SEOs and developers/designers play nicely together?



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