SEO and the Third Generation Web Consultant

As a web designer I am duty bound, I believe, to build websites that rank well in search engines. Now this is a relatively new idea amongst the great majority of designers – it was all about aesthetics and for many it still is. But the raw fact is that for the greater part of the commercial world a website is a vital way of bringing business in and unless the website designer has optimised the site then it will be invisible to the search engines and, ultimately, to the potential customers.

Now there are a huge number of self professed SEO Specialists around. Some (I suspect a minority) are devious black-hat types, some are earnest scientists with a fool proof analytical process. But the majority are people who strive to improve the content on a client’s website so that it ranks well in most search engines. And I would call these people Third Generation Web Consultants. (First generation were effective html coders, second generation were stylists & programmers, the Third Generation Web Consultants are engaged with the internet in a holistic way and understand the need for accessibility, search engine friendliness and customer motivation.

So I consider my company to be in that Third Generation of web consultants. We are still designers, but ever more frequently taking responsibility for dispensing advice, far beyond the mere aesthetic appeal of a web page. As a Third Generation Web Consultant I also humbly acknowledge others who are more expert than me at the science of search engine optimisation itself.

In the pursuit of excellence I was heartened to read some of the articles on Bruce Clay’s website concerning ethics and standards in search engine optimisation. I adhere to the principles and a large part of my task as a web consultant is to lead clients away from minimilist art sites to satisfying, informative, productive and search engine friendly websites that look good and are accessible to everyone.

Bruce Clay’s article, entitled Search Engine ‘Optimisation Standards and Spam Discussion’ opens:

“Site ‘A’ is well written, content-rich, and exceptionally relevant for search keyword ‘W’. Site ‘B’ is not as well written, not as content-rich, and is considered not as relevant. Site ‘B’ implements Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technology and a few borderline spam tricks and suddenly site ‘B’ outranks site ‘A’ for search ‘W’. What this does is to lower the surfer satisfaction with the relevancy of the results from that search engine, certainly hurts the “user experience”, and slaps the face of those working at the search engine company responsible for seeing that surfers actually see relevant content and are happy.” – Search Engine Optimization Standards and Spam Overview

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