Can web designers and search experts work together?

Web sites are complicated, and they need lots of different skills to make them work. Every Web site needs a designer and a search marketing expert, but how do they work together? Sometimes it seems that the two don’t know enough about each other to make it work.

I gave one of my Internet Marketing 101 presentations this week to a group of small business folks in Morrisville, NC at the Chamber of Commerce. Morrisville is a “small” town that is nestled between one of the most desirable towns to live in according to Money magazine (Cary, NC) and the Research Triangle Park which has a strong reputation for being home to many technology start-ups. Surprisingly, there are about 900 businesses of all shapes and sizes in the Morrisville area and their proximity to a high tech hot spot like the Research Triangle would lead you to believe that tech-savvy folks would be the norm. Well, tech-savvy and Internet marketing don’t always play together and often times are complete strangers.
During this presentation, I had a lot of folks who were nodding their heads appearing to show a basic understanding about search engine optimization and paid search marketing. Blogging, on the other hand, is the equivalent of taking a rocket ship to Saturn for most small business folks. It sounds real cool but it’s more fantasy than anything else.
The thing that I observe every time I make these presentations is the amount of erroneous information that flies around what search marketing is and how to do it. This “basic” understanding that many have is only defined by what their idea of what “experts” have told them.
Oftentimes it’s web designers that are telling them what they need to do etc. Now all web designers please turn away while I unpack this. Most of the time, web designers are very well intentioned with their advice. But here’s the catch. I don’t pretend to be a designer and I should not give Web design advice based on my knowledge of how it really is done. My level of expertise is equivalent to saying that I am not a Web designer but I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night. You get my point.
Well, having said that, I have a recommendation to Web designers. Leave the search marketing talk to the folks on this side of the ledger. I am now a firm believer that these two disciplines are so “specialized” that it’s very rare to find someone who knows and delivers both extremely well. The “advice” that I heard handed out as if it was “the word” by designers, was at times basic and at other times completely wrong (note to everyone, flash and the search engines DO NOT play well together and will not for the foreseeable future ).
Honestly, because SMB’s rarely have the time to do in depth research. It follows that these folks have to rely on their circle of experts for guidance and if that circle does not include people who specialize in either design or internet marketing but rather are a “generalist” there is a very good chance that the information they get on design, internet marketing or, even worse, both will be limited. Oh and by the way, regardless of where you are in this deal, submitting your site to search engines IS NOT search engine optimization. In fact, if you continually resubmit pages to Google you run the risk of getting them a bit upset.
First stop for all small business search marketer s should be Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. From there, you will at least know the basics from the real source and you can then measure what you hear to some degree.
Here’s my best advice to all of the small business folks out there: When all else fails (or seems overwhelming) do what Google says. At least you will know the basics from the one place where most of your success in search marketing will come from. As I tell people all the time, it’s a Google world and we’re all allowed to play in it.
So Web designers who are reading this, let me have it. Show me how you are the exception to what I believe is the rule. And to you search marketers, what are the most common design issues that you have to undo in order to actually do search marketing? SMBs desperately need good advice that can be trusted. If you do both and you do them well, then this is your chance to show off. I look forward to hearing from ALL of you.

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