Throw Away Your Money
on Search Engine Optimization
Developer Doh's & Programmer No-No's in Site Redesign
by Mike Banks Valentine © October 1, 2004
Search engine optimization consists of some relatively arcane
issues that are not obvious to anyone. That I can be thankful
for, I suppose, or I wouldn't continue to be in demand as an SEO
specialist. But why do clients throw money out the window with
developers who don't understand they are bulldozing down site
naming structure and careful page architecture when they do a
Today I got a call from a very good client who was excited to
have me see his site redesign and sent me off to visit while he
was on the phone. I typed in the domain name and watched the page
load in my browser. Nice color scheme, interesting scrolling header,
clean design, good navigation. "Looks Good," I said, and then
my heart sank when I noted that my carefully crafted title tag
was missing from the browser title bar.
I clicked to the sitemap and noticed that my naming convention
for pages, subdirectories and image files had been discarded like
yesterdays trash. I went to the source code and saw that all the
off-page .js files was back on the page again, along with the
CSS styles. Oh, and no description metatags.
I began to groan audibly as I made each of these discoveries,
forgetting that my client was on the line. My heart leapt back
into my throat as I looked for all the great articles, press releases,
additional text content I had conscientously added and found them
missing from the site entirely!
My client responded to my noises with an exclamation that his
new site was "State of the Art!" and "Completely Automated" as
he pointed out the cool new functions and slick scripts. "Only
one problem," he said, still gushing about the expensive toys,
goodies and googaws on his pretty new baby - "We dropped from
our first page rankings in the search engines, what happened?"
I won't detail what I said as I exploded in anger at the havoc
his developer wreaked upon my lovingly optimized pages, but after
I calmed a bit (thank goodness he's a good client and a friend)
I detailed the developer's unknowing destruction.
Do you realize that ALL links to previous pages will generate
"404 Not Found" errors from links in the search engines until
these new pages are crawled? Do you realize that EVERYTHING I
did to get top rankings has been destroyed?! Do you understand
that ALL the money you gave me to optimize your site will have
to be spent AGAIN?
This exchange has happened with several clients over the past
few years. Even though I warn each new client that they must take
care to avoid exactly this scenario when they have a site redesigned
or upgraded. DON'T CHANGE FILENAMES, DON'T OVERWRITE TITLE TAGS,
This week I had a client call asking why the site changes he
had agreed to a month ago had not been completed. I reminded him
that he'd asked me to send those changes to his developer so that
the changes were in-house rather than giving me server access.
I've got a new excuse to use now. The developer did it,
or in this case - didn't do it. This developer saw no need to
post my thoroughly researched title tags, based on keyword density
of each page, to every one of the site's 300 pages. No matter
that I'd spent days researching keywords, adjusting page text
and massaging all title tags to match. The developer was busy.
The last straw for me came today though. A client called to
find out if we could avoid the extensive rework of his site needed
to do the "URL re-writes" that he'd agreed to do in the contract
we signed recently. Why? "My programmer tells me it will take
him a month to do this without breaking the site scripts." I reminded
him that this had been discussed in our meeting last month when
the programmer balked at all the work that would be required of
No problem, I said, we can go another route, but it will cost
you twice as much for my immediate work and ultimately more than
three times as much in your Pay-Per-Click budget forever.
You won't rank nearly as well in the organic search listings.
Most of your site will never be indexed by most search
engines unless you pay for mass URL inclusion, and that only works
for one search engine - Yahoo, since everyone else has stopped
the paid inclusion programs. Google doesn't offer paid inclusion.
(Google and partners send nearly 70% of search traffic to him
and most other sites.)
"Oh!", he exclaimed. "Well, ultimately the programmer will do
what he's paid to do, like it or not."
Hmmm. Well I like it! Maybe my best weapon against developers
and programmers opposed to SEO requirements will be reminding
their employers of those PPC budgets and Google's lack of paid
Mike Valentine is SEO at http://InsuranceDirectory411.com
and at http://Auto-Accident-Lawyer-Directory.com
where he had some of the experiences detailed in the article above.
Begin your SEO with Mike at http://seoptimism.com/SEO_Contact.htm