Website design and search engine optimization are two different things.

Design is the look and feel, what the site looks like, where and how the text is placed, the images, where and how the navigation works etc. This is the window dressing of your website and draws the client into your shop to find out more about your services or products.

Design gets a brochure onto the prospective clients desk; SEO is how you distribute the brochure Design gets the website up for all those you give the address to, to admire; SEO is making sure that the rest of the world finds it.

SEO is not automatically included in the fee to design a website at alot of agencies. If they do add it to your quote, investigate what it includes and check when the site is up if it has been done. Elemental marketing and Design will include entry level SEO when designing the site and give you the option of advanced SEO in a phased approach.

SEO involves the research into the appropriate key words to use which will result in people in your target market finding you.

Which is better “Rent a truck” or “Hire a truck”? SEO research tells us that 30% more searches use the word “hire” than the word “rent”.
Is “Rent a pickup” going to bring you business in SA. Certainly not.
We use the word bakkie although in Cape Town this is less true than in Johannesburg. Should a motorcycle website use the word “motorcycle” or “motorbike”? Which is the most popular term in the country where the website is relevant? SEO researches your product, your competition on the web and defines the best key words to be used within your code and content of your site. But there is so much more to it.

SEO involves submission of entries and sitemaps to search engines to assist them to catalog your website accurately and correctly. SEO robots, crawlers that visit your website are notoriously impatient and leave if things are not made easy for them. Google may ‘see’ 80% of your pages and Bing only 2%.

SEO involves links to other good sites, links to blogs and to various social media. Lots of likes in Facebook is going to influence search engines more and more in the future. Being a member of Google+ helps with Google searches.

SEO involves proof reading and manipulation of the supplied text. A motorcycle website that says the word “motorcycle” once every 1000 words will perform badly in searches. SEO makes sure that the important words are repeated often, well and appropriately for both human readers and search engines.

Search engines only read text. Websites that have fancy flash movies and lots of photos with very little text cannot hope to compete with a website that if full of interesting, relevant text . It’s like having a fantastic store front – all the bells and whistles in signage, music and even the sexy sales assistant at the door….but the shop is hidden down a dark alleyway that nobody ever finds. A bit like winking at a beautiful girl in the dark, you were there, you made a move, but with no effect.

SEO involves the correct use of headings. A client yesterday supplied me with a press release with the heading “A Golden Celebration”. Headings are mission critical SEO. A robot reading this heading would say huh? . . . and move on to another page that it can index into a category it understands (the press release was about the 50th edition of a magazine, so a better heading would be “Magazine name celebrates 50 years in the industry”.)

Basic SEO is something that a good graphic designer will offer. Every page has some code only for the search engines i.e. a title, a description, a short keyword list, an “h1″ heading and tags for each image to describe it to the seach engine. Budget, template websites do not offer this.

A final comment. SEO is daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual. What is searched for in a southern hemisphere January is completely different to a northern hemisphere January. Equally searches change from season to season. Good SEO follows these trends and adjusts the website content accordingly
eg. “Christmas in July” is searched for in SA only 4 weeks of the year but brings in good business for mountain lodges who offer it.

Therefore good SEO is time consuming and lasts at least for 3 months if not all year round – like a maintenance contract.

Contact Elemental to discuss how we can help you be found.