Lee Odden

SEO Before or After

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO

While I was doing a little research for interview questions with Yahoo SEO Program Manager, Laura Lippay, I noticed a post she made about the pros and cons of performing search engine optimization on web sites while they are being designed or redesigned compared to after the fact.

Laura makes some great points about the need to involve SEO at the planning stages of a web site, not after it’s been launched. This really stikes a chord since so many companies call our SEO firm saying things like, “We’ve nearly finished our new web site design and are now looking for a SEO firm to help market the site.” You can hear a pin drop when we explain how much could have been saved (time/money) had we been brought in during the early stage of the site design.

I couldn’t have written this up any better myself so with Laura’s permission am reposting here:

Building SEO into the Process:

  1. Concept: What kind of things can I do with content on my site and my site relationships to other sites that would be beneficial for SEO? What kind of time and resources will I need for SEO? How will I measure SEO effectiveness?
  2. Design: What do I need to keep in mind when I am designing my site that will make it a design marvel and search engine friendly?
  3. Development: What do I need to know about my URL structure, programming techniques, and so on, that will make my pages easy for search engines to crawl, find, and classify everything in my site?
  4. Performance: Am I reaching my goals? If not, where am I lacking and why? If so, what have I done right and how can I continue to apply it? What’s my clickthrough rate? What’s my conversion rate? What’s my ROI? What are my “money terms”? How do I continue to optimize?
  5. Optimization: Making minor tweaks to test and measure the effectiveness & tighten up the SEO measures on your site.

Doing SEO After You’ve Built Your Site:

  1. Benchmark & Analysis: Where does the site stand now in rankings, traffic, search term conversion, targeting correct search terms, etc? What kind of programming techniques are used? What kind of marketing and linking partnerships are in place? What have these people been working on for the past 6 months/10 months/2 years?
  2. SEO Opportunities: What are the things that this site should do, regardless of time, money, or resources, that would make it a search-friendly, high-traffic, leader in its space? How much money could this site make if we could get rankings and possibly traffic higher? Is it worth the SEO effort, and how much?
  3. SEO Plan: What SEO recommendations can be implemented with what resources, budget and time? This usually ends up never being a complete SEO implementation, but instead, a patchwork effort to get in pieces of SEO.
  4. SEO Implementation: Start tearing up the site to start making changes in design, programming, linking strategies, URL structures, etc. This is never fun for a site owner, the people who put their hard work into creating the site, or an SEO who gets scornful looks and pushback from pretty much everyone.
  5. Performance: Am I reaching my goals? If not, where am I lacking and why? If so, what have I done right and how can I continue to apply it? What’s my clickthrough rate? What’s my conversion rate? What’s my ROI? What are my “money terms”? How do I continue to optimize?
  6. Optimization: Go back and look at the full recommendatons to see what else you might be able to afford additional time, money and resources on in an attempt to do some more patchwork SEO on your site. (Unless you had lots of money and resources to dig up your site and implement full SEO recommendations the first time, which usually never happens in patchwork SEO).

See the difference? What is a smoother, less expensive, less wrenching process?

Crystal clear Laura, thanks! Here’s a link to the original post.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Thinking ahead is so retro. 🙂

    If SEO is important to them… then obviously they would have put an SEO in charge of the project to manage the designers and copywriters.

    When a prospect shows that my service is one of their lower priorities, I often consider passing on the project.

    -James Brausch


  1. aaron dalrymple dot com » Blog Archive » Post of a Post of a Post says:

    […] SEO Before or After

  2. […] Too many times this is just not the case. As noted in an earlier post, many companies decide site optimization is something that happens after the web design is finished. It can often be easier and more productive to bring the SEO consultants in during the planning stages of a web site than after a site launch. […]