Online Marketing Blog

Website Redesign – A Sometimes Essential SEO Tactic

Over the past year we have had a massive increase in leads for our range of online marketing services, especially from Ireland. The recession has really done a number on the SME and most are starting to think smart, because they have to. This has led them to look more and more to the online face of their business and many are shocked that their competition who put int he effort earlier on are way ahead of them in the online space.

In a lot of cases, it is no longer good enough to have a lot of inbound links OR a good looking website. You need both. There is also no point in having a website number one in the search results for a keyword if the traffic it brings just will not convert on your dated website. While constant hacking away at an already poor website may bring temporary relief, it’s just a band aid and will eventually be untenable.

Trent over at Blizzard Internet makes a very good point about how all the SEO tactics in the world can’t help a poor website. He goes into some detail on the stats but this jumps right out and should be highlighted.

… Sometimes they want to discuss SEO and are not open to discussing the overall problems with their website. Forget SEO for a moment, and consider that doubling the visitors to your website still won’t be profitable if your website doesn’t convert. It is the definition of throwing good money after bad… This hotel doesn’t need more SEO! They need to lower their 43% bounce rate AND improve their 0% conversion rate. They need a better booking engine.

Some web designers can even do a lot of damage to their clients online business if they don’t have at least a basic understanding of what I call “Core” seo. Adam has a great post on dangerous web design here where he states:

So what is there to learn from all this? At a minimum, this situation illustrates that knowledge of SEO is critical for anyone running a web design/development firm. But I would argue that this isn’t even SEO — it’s basic web 101. To think that companies are operating without this knowledge, and doing their clients real harm, is a little scary.

The emphasis above is mine because I think that is exactly what Eoghan and Ken were trying to get across in the SEO is Bullshit post here. While I do nott agree that SEO is bullshit (Bill pretty much put that to bed in his excellent “10 SEO Questions” post), I DO see their point. “Core” SEO is basic webmastering and web design 101. You’ll find it very difficult to make a website made completely with images or flash against a competitor with a well designed, standards compliant, accessible and structurally comprehensive website with logical internal linking and basic best practices kept in mind.


To all you small business owners considering getting a website built and asking yourselves “Do I need to redesign my website to rank in Google?” please remember to ask your web design company or web designer what they are doing to make sure your website is search engine friendly. To all you small business owners considering getting SEO “done” to an existing site, consider what I said above. All the SEO, inbound links or fantastic content in the world wont help you if you have a terribly inaccessible site.

This post may seem a little self serving but more and more we are not only having to redesign clients websites , but insisting on it. (We have now merged our web design service with our other offerings to be more in line with this idea). So before you even consider having an SEO company work on your site, make sure it’s ready to be worked on or it might end up costing you a lot more in the long run.


Finally, in relation to inbound links, a really good website design that pays attention to both style and standards can obtain a massive influx of high quality links and traffic by being included in the plethora of web design and CSS showcase galleries. These can be a huge boost to site authority and give a much need initial boost to any SEO efforts.

* This will be the final semi-self serving digital marketing agency post of the year :) What do you think of the new design?

  1. Scott Clark Says:
    November 13th, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Your singing my tune here – and it doesn’t feel self-serving at all. I’m constantly trying to articulate this exact issue to potential clients … search Google “seo building permits” – I wrote a post on this a while ago you might enjoy.

  2. Dorothy Says:
    November 14th, 2009 at 12:55 am

    I agree. It is pointless being at the top of search engine listings if your website is really poor. Websites should be designed for robots as well as people and this can easily be achieved without compromising on design. In my experience, a well designed website with relevant content will eventually receive quality organic traffic. However, sometimes a clients wishes regarding the design or content can thwart attempts to fully optimise the site. It would be much easier to achieve if the client wasn’t involved in the decision making process! :)

  3. Miguel Says:
    November 15th, 2009 at 4:57 am

    Arnold, fantastic post and I could not agree with you more. Unfortunately many people looking for SEO are not prepared to spend on development. Many times what we have tried to do was to generate some ROI with the SEO so the client can save up for usability analysis, design/development, testing ad copy, etc. And sometimes you just can’t convince people that their design is bad.

    But usability testing, content testing and a well structured site can provide exponential new business for a site for sure. It is a very good investment. Some people believe in this and some just still don’t get it.

  4. Web Templates Says:
    November 15th, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    It is all about balance, the design needs to appeal to humans but be spiderable and easy for search engines to index.

  5. searchbrat Says:
    November 15th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    The best way to sell in a development plan to a client is to present them stats. Using tools like Google Analytics, it’s easy to put together a range of reports to show how much cash is being left on the table by a poor design.
    The SEO is bullshit post was interesting, although it has been done 100’s of times in different variations. At the end of the day, SEO is just another part of an all round marketing campaign and needs to be integrated with other vehicles + touch points.
    One of the most interesting arguments you can have in the SEO community is are we delivering traffic or conversions. If clients want conversions delivered, they need to accept this may require site development to optimise their sales process etc. There is no point increasing traffic if most of it bounces. In fact this may have a negative impact on their rankings.

  6. Dave Davis Says:
    November 15th, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Scott, that’s an excellent post. Really gets into the nitty gritty of what I think Arnold is trying to say.

    Dorothy, you’re dead right. Kind of like a plastic surgery patient asking to make all sorts of modifications that the surgeon doesn’t want to make. It’s hard for us all to do, listen to an “expert” when you “know” what’s best :)

    Kieran, you’re right but it’s difficult to avoid making the client feel “upsold to”. Despite cold hard facts and documented analysis, many just don’t want the “bells and whistles”. This is what we are trying to get across to our clients that the “bells and whistles” are not “add ons” but part of the core job.

  7. Cory Grassell Says:
    November 16th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I’ve said it before and continue to say it: You are marketing to humans first, search engines second. While you can optimize a site till you’re blue in the face, it won’t matter if your bounce rates are through the roof. Visitors make aesthetic decisions about your company’s credibility within a few seconds, so an optimized site doesn’t matter if the user experience is terrible. A quality user experience can lead to higher click-through rates and more repeat visitors, which boosts SEO. Also, company’s should remember that refreshing their sites with updated content is an SEO best practice.

  8. Denver Says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Oh, man…. more stuff to do! Great points though… winning the placement game does no good if you lose the viewer to poor content or design. And as Cory (above) notes, readers make credibility decisions based on look and feel. You really only have a few seconds to win the attention of your reader.

  9. Online marketing services Says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 10:49 am

    The above article written by Arnold is excellent to how to good looking website is base on the keyword of increase the traffic of the result in SEO tactics to developed online marketing services of the company….

  10. Los Angeles SEO Says:
    November 20th, 2009 at 3:32 am

    What is most difficult to explain to clients is that their aesthetic may not be inline with SEO, i.e. a full flash site. However, as the search engines improve their algo’s for rankings, it is still up to the viewer to make the site and the client a success.

  11. mes abdo Says:
    November 30th, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Extremely well thought out article , Building for humans as well as search engine always hits the note with me, an attractive well thought out design that is build with SEO in mind is going to win over a site with one or the other.

  12. oes tsetnoc Says:
    December 8th, 2009 at 7:24 am

    an optimized site doesn’t matter if the user experience is terrible. Any ways for nice post

  13. Glenna Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 5:44 am

    Getting it right seems like such a balance – some sites seem so plain and some you don’t even know where to look! I’ve been surprised again and again by the apparent popularity of some sites…That would be where testing comes in, I guess?

  14. Nick Stamoulis Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    It is really important to have both these days. If you are delivering a great deal of traffic but the layout of your site is causing people to just leave than what good is all that traffic?

  15. Pixelsmedia Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    You need to be careful about some points like you need ensure that no frames is there on your site, you better try to avoid the flash design which is not seo friendly.You can put a rss feed button and can add a blog or forum in the menu list so that in later time these seo friendly techniques can be introduced any time !

  16. Anton Stoutjesdijk Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    The challenge remains in the clients ability to scrutinize it’s web design company. Not taking too much advice from blogs and forum and going to search engine in questions – directly to get ‘educated’ is the key, on the other hand, running a business school for your clients is not the objective either. Most engines are quite clear in guidelines for optimal site architecture. Naturally, they’re going to withhold the repercussions of such actions to maintain control, yet it can be quite concerning to read comments from people that have picked up a distored echo of original SE guidelines (yes web designers included), with clients requesting SEO you would think a valuable resource to point them to (apart from yourselves of course) would be to big G or the engine the client has in focus.

  17. Maine Internet Marketing Says:
    January 19th, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    I ran into an issue related to this topic a few weeks ago. I met with a real estate agent who wanted his website on the first page of google when people do a local search for real estate agents in his area.

    This was fine but his website was horrendous and looked like it was put together buy his secretary back in 1998. Logos and clip art just pasted randomly everywhere, broken links, he even had links to phishing websites in his footer!

    To make a long story short I ended up finding out he was getting plenty of traffic and his search engine placement wasn’t all that bad.

    He just wasn’t converting those visitors to interested leads…so needless to say I ended up redesigning his website.

  18. Jonny Says:
    January 30th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    This is a minefield for clients. Clients aren’t as clued up as we should be, so we really need to do indepth research. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen and many can end up with a great design that is poorly developed for Google.
    The other point is that many don’t have the experience to know that a poor design even with all the best SEO in the world will hamper the success of the site.

  19. Maxtec Solutions/Disk station Says:
    February 3rd, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Redesigning is actually a minor SEO tactic. Web design primarily attracts’ net surfers’ attention when they click the link of a website.

  20. Web Development Company Says:
    February 16th, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Great post, while SEO may not be the be all and end all it is a crucial element for web design. If your site isn’t SEO friendly it will be harder for your target audience to find, but if you go over the top and put all your effort into SEO your design comes off looking spammy. It’s all about balance.

  21. ITCwelcomgroup Says:
    March 6th, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Yes, website re-designing keeping in mind SEO tactics will be a great benefit in promoting website across major search engines.

  22. sacramento seo services Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 7:24 am

    I couldnt agree more! I have a few websites getting quite a bit of traffic due to my #1 rankings on google for my chosen keywords, but am still trying to monetize it! Ninja SEO skills are great but conversion is necessary to make some cash.

  23. gaining muscle Says:
    March 25th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    traffic seems like the hard part, but i think tweaking your copy and offer to convert visitors for your offer or to buy something is definitely the tricky part.

  24. Maciej @ SEO Noobie Says:
    March 29th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I agree! All the SEO in the world will not help users convert on your website if it is poorly designed. I speak with many people that feel that they do not need to do anything to their website. SEO is not going to get people moving around on your website and creating actions that could lead to conversions or sales.

  25. Dave Mruz Says:
    April 5th, 2010 at 4:38 am

    you must have seo AND a great website.

  26. Doc Martin Says:
    April 5th, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Maciej is right on point. You cant just get them to your site, you have to provide good content, a great offer, etc. to convert them to your desired action.

  27. su kesme aparatları Says:
    May 17th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I agree. It is pointless being at the top of search engine listings if your website is really poor

  28. Mike Says:
    June 4th, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Great post Arnold & couldn’t help laughing when you quoted Adam. Having just walked away from a meeting with a PPC client that has engaged a firm to redesign their site ($17k) but they had no idea (!) about SEO (none.)
    I know just enough about SEO to be dangerous…. but to think that “web designers” can get paid to redo a site with 19000 uniques & not have any ideas about SEO is so scary it’s funny!
    #bang-head-on-wall !

  29. Fcq Says:
    November 30th, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Inbound links and a great looking website–this is definitely the unstoppable combination for me.

  30. mathew Says:
    December 6th, 2010 at 5:20 am

    I have a few websites getting quite a bit of traffic due to my #1 rankings on google for my chosen keywords, but am still trying to monetize it! Ninja SEO skills are great but conversion is necessary to make some cash.

  31. Tarifvergleich Says:
    January 13th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Visitors make aesthetic decisions about your company’s credibility within a few seconds, so an optimized site doesn’t matter if the user experience is terrible.

  32. Lara Says:
    December 20th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    the user experience is getting more and more important