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An SEO-friendly website starts from its foundation and I don’t mean the platform it is built on although that is important too.

For the uninitiated, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. When you make your website SEO-friendly, the chance of having your website appear in search engine results is higher. Most people would rarely go beyond the first page of search results to find what they want, so if your website doesn’t appear at all you’re losing out to your competitors!

These days innovative website platforms such as WordPress have made it so much easier to create websites. Plus you get added help with a lot of SEO plugins that do most of the hard work for you so it is not that difficult to make your website SEO-friendly.

But to figure out your SEO after your website is built isn’t how you ace the SEO game.

You need to figure out the SEO before your website is designed, before your webpages are created and before your website content is written.

This is the marketing that goes into SEO. It’s figuring out the marketing before the website is designed, built, developed and written.

When we are commissioned to design websites, we first investigate the marketing that the client is engaging in.

We ask these questions of our client.

For many, it is the first time they have to really dig deep and think hard.

  • Who is the client trying to attract? (Please don’t say ‘everyone’)
  • What is the client offering which is helpful to this group of prospects?
  • Why is this client unique in her offering compared to the rest?
  • What message is the client sending out and is that message clear and understood by her prospects?
  • What words are her prospects using now to find her products or services?
  • Are these words the same as the ones she’s using to refer to her business?
  • Where is this group of people online and what are they discussing?
  • What does the client want the website to achieve for the business?

These questions need to be answered even before we talk about colour schemes, content or design work.

Without a foundation of marketing, and without knowing how a website fits into your marketing, you will not achieve the success you want for your own business.

When we uncover the answers to these questions (and usually it is through a discovery session where the client sometimes is surprised by her own answers), it is easier to plan the design, write the copy and produce the needed webpages.

It is also easier to create web pages and optimize them as we already know what words, categories or key phrases are needed. We never need to guess what the prospect needs because we already know via the client and what she is doing in her marketing.

All websites need to be built on a foundation of robust marketing. When we are called to do a website audit or a consultation, we usually find that most websites aren’t conceptualized with this in mind.

Instead, they are first and foremost visual design and eye candy. Eye candy is wonderful if eye candy can sell your products but sadly, there is usually nothing beyond eye candy!

Ultimately, marketing must always be at the forefront of excellent web design.

Good design should lead someone to take action after she understands your message. The issue is, if the website isn’t designed from a marketing perspective, it won’t produce results for your marketing.

That’s a tragic but real fact.

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This article is written by Krista Goon who co-owns and manages Redbox Studio, a web design and marketing firm in Penang. Since 1998, Redbox Studio’s speciality is in creating websites with marketing strategy to help business owners increase their online visibility, credibility and profitability.

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