of Web Design & Search Engines & Internet Marketing
It seems appropriate that this inaugural post be about the recent collision between the worlds of web design and search engine optimization initiated by the compooter.org blog post about the craptastic adventures of SES San Jose 2004 which slammed the entire field of SEO. Chased by a lengthy series of "me too" posts from designers and responses, heated or otherwise, from Search Engine Strategies speakers and SEO industry names, "the compooter incident" highlights a long-standing problem of omission with building websites.
Fact of the matter is that Search Engine Strategies has focused, for years now, on paid search engine advertising of various flavors and the pros/cons/methodologies of building websites for increased search engine rankings. On the other hand, it appears that "compooter" is a web designer focused on Web Standards. While I did not attend SES San Jose, it's pretty clear that, had a web designer knowledgeable about SEO attended that particular session, he/she would have been able to evaluate the data and to sort the wheat from the chaff rather than slamming an entire field.
My guess is the slams at SEOs may have been due to confusion as to what constitutes good website optimization, how it's done, etc. Unfortunately, SEOs tend, like anyone else, to talk in industry jargon, and it can't be easy to guess at what level to speak to a given audience. (CSS/Web Standards advocate) Adrian Lee's thread SES slammed by designers at cre8asiteforums attracted an actual SES attendee, "Voltar", to post some pertinent and basic SEO questions which highlight some of the confusions and/or contradictions not answered by or clarified in the session.
Web Design & Search Engines & Internet Marketing
The upshot of the "compooter" incident a good one: heated discussions aside, both "sides" have discovered that they may not be that far apart. This is a good thing in view of the fact that designers/programmers/marketers/whoevers have historically often been at odds as each tried to steer the ship according to his field of expertise.
The real bottom line is always achieving the goals of the website owner. Given that what makes "good web design" may interfere with "good optimization" and programming goals, and both may interfere with usability (making websites usable), and all may interfere with sales and marketing, then it is clear that a number of disciplines are needed in order to achieve the best website possible based upon the goals for the website. It is extremely pleasing to see lines of communication opening. May the web design folk learn from the SEOs, and vice-versa.
Hats off to CSS Guru Eric Meyer for his SES San Jose Corrections post. It's rare to see such an honest and eloquent retraction.
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