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August 19, 2009

The SEO Development Life Cycle – SEM Synergy Extras

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On our weekly podcast SEM Synergy, we spend the show reliving the lessons and announcements born out of SES San Jose. Bruce Clay, Inc.’s crowning moment during the event was the opportunity to demo our upcoming tools to others in the SEO industry.

BCI’s IT manager, Aaron Landerkin, talks on the podcast about the process of developing the next generation of our SEO tools and what users can expect of the new tools available now and in the future. At Bruce Clay, Inc., we’re unabashedly proud of our tools, it’s true. But this post isn’t going to talk about the tools. Actually, the tools sparked my interest in the software development life cycle and how a process like that applies to SEO.

There’s a series of steps that has to occur as software is imagined, created and made available to the world. It goes a little something like this:

generic software development life cycle diagram

The Software Development Life Cycle by Sam’s VisualBasic

The cycle that occurs for SEO implementation is similar. And just as in software development, the earlier inefficiencies and errors are addressed, the easier and less costly it is to fix them.

The SEO Development Life Cycle

Over at Search Engine Guide today, Stoney deGeyter wrote about how sometimes businesses expect search engine optimization to fix their deep-seeded Web site problems. It’s called Putting SEO Frosting on a Website Dung Pile, and as Stoney tells it, attempting to optimize a fatally flawed site is akin to spreading sweet buttercream frosting atop a fly-infested pile of manure. Not appetizing, and certainly not worthy of consumer attention. [Gross. –Susan]

perfect cupcake
CC BY 2.0

Or maybe instead of cow dung, it’s more like baking up your grandma’s recipe for velvety dark chocolate cupcakes. Except when whipping up the batter, you confuse all the ingredients. My point being, a Web site doesn’t just make itself. A Web site requires that time, resources and a myriad of upfront costs are dedicated to the development project.

So when a company ends up with a faulty final product, it makes sense they might want to salvage the batch with delicious toppings from the professional bakery across town. Unfortunately, we all know that even a gold-leaf, truffle-laced Madagascar vanilla bean can’t clean up that mess. (Yeah, I watch “Top Chef.” Could you guess?)

The sometimes inconvenient truth is that SEO considerations have to be part of the equation from the beginning. Our friend SEO should have a say during initial site conceptions. SEO should get a vote in choosing the domain. SEO should be consulted about site architecture. SEO should have a hand in the coding of a site. And SEO should be a major player in the management and maintenance of the site.

A word can be said here about SEO and site architecture. It’s often most difficult to change a site’s site architecture. Developers are usually able to change on-page code. And links may come and go. But a site’s conceptual framework isn’t easily tweaked. That’s why it’s so important to build SEO into a site’s architecture from the beginning. As you may know, Bruce Clay, Inc. recommends siloing as a guide for optimized, search-friendly site architecture.

Considering SEO from the very beginning is one of those stitch-in-time-saves-nine things. Each step in the Web development cycle in which SEO isn’t considered is just another cost added to the list when implementing search engine optimization in the future. More and more business decision makers are making their way on board the SEO bandwagon — and that’s excellent news. But, as with most things, the sooner the better.

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