I have been interviewing a number of agencies this year to stay in touch with people at the coal face of ecommerce. One thing that has jumped out is the frequent divide between “engineering agencies” and “SEO agencies”. Engineering agencies build sites, SEO agencies then tune site content after the site is built.
There are of course some agencies that do both, lots of grey areas of overlap, but many agencies focus on one of the two areas.
One thread that has emerged is the importance of getting the SEO agencies involved during the engineering phase of site development, ideally during requirements setting.
Engineering agencies don’t live in the SEO world, and so frequently don’t have the same depth of understanding of the importance of particular aspects of site design. SEO agencies on the other hand are frequently less technical. They don’t claim to be engineers, but they keep up to date with what is important to get the best search engine performance out of a site.
Agencies on both sides have shared stories about how much it has helped getting feedback from SEO agencies early in the engineering process, to make sure the engineering teams build the right product. This might sound obvious, but it sounds like this occurs less frequently than you might expect. There seems to be an expectation that engineering teams are SEO experts, even though they are not daily practitioners in the space.
My advice for merchants is if you have an SEO agency that you use and trust, get them involved early in any new major site work. Minor tweaks when setting requirements or reviewing early site builds can save a lot of time down the track. Engineering teams will of course do their best, but specialist knowledge early in a project can help avoid nasty surprises down the track when you focus on optimizing the effectiveness of your site.
I couldn’t agree more. So many companies, ecommerce, lead gen, etc., treat SEO as an ad on after the site is “done.” This leads to crappy SEO bandaids and/or countless headaches trying to re-engineer a site.
More times than I’d like to say I’ve had to show customers a cached page that is virtually blank or a site:yourwebsite.com to show an engineering team their pages have no indexible content or aren’t indexed at all. Those head slap moments could easily be avoided if engineering spoke to SEO in the actual development process.