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Article on our SEO Optimized Web Design Process

Business Marketing Institute

"Does your Website take advantage of Google's rich snippets?"

Our Strategic Web Optimization™ Process


Web Design offers a step-by-step process you can use to design an SEO optimized Website. Or we can help you.

Summary - Good Web Design and Web Development practices are a prerequisite for high ROI Campaigns. For this simple reason, we recommend that you align [or "tune-up" in the case of a site "makeover"], your Web Design strategies with your online Campaign strategies prior to writing any copy or launching any campaigns. We first want you to make sure all your customer acquisition and retention strategies fit together and that you are using consistent messaging in all media. We’re also strong believers that if your Website isn’t strategically designed, aligned and optimized with your total business, then you can risk wasting a lot of time and money.

In this paper we discuss the importance of a solid Web Design and organic SEO strategy to integrated marketing communications and integrated marketing campaigns. If you take the extra time up front to do organic SEO right, then you can achieve permanent competitive advantage by being in the "Top Ten" search results for the major search engines Google, MSN and Yahoo for your most valuable keywords. We define that advantage to be the time when your product or service rises to the first organic SERP rank - a circumstance we metaphorically call the "reaching the promised land."

This is the first of a 2-paper series and it discusses our Strategic Website Optimization™ process

1. Initial Consultation 7. Landing Page URLS 13. Strategic Keywords
2. Proposal 8. Web Design Specs 14. SEO / PPC
3. Seven Key Questions 9. Html Tags 15. Social Media Plan
4. Creative Brief 10. Web Page Copy 16. Launch
5. Web Research 11. Graphics 17. Analytics
6. Keyword 12. Interactive Design 18. Dial In

[Steps 1-8 of Figure 1]. We refer the reader to the second [companion] paper that discusses our Integrated Campaign Marketing Optimization™ process [Steps 9-16] and the utilization of the "Web analytics" [Steps 17 and 18] that we install on your site during Web Design, to "fine tune" your messaging, Web design and campaign processes. The second paper is titled SEO Optimization Services with a Strategic Twist - A White Paper This paper defines all 18 steps, and provides supporting links and tells you how to get samples and templates of our work product for each of these steps. The examples we provide for each step along the way should give you a good idea as to how thorough our processes of Web Design and Organic SEO are and how dedicated we are to help you achieve the first organic SERP rank with no PPC expense.

The Many Definitions of "Web Design"- How many definitions of the phrase "Web Design" would you get from the 1,830,000 people who "Google" this key phrase each month? Certainly many of them think of graphics design and graphic artists when they are asked "How would you define Web Design? Since most people knows at least one graphic artist who has learned some HTML, they might consider hiring him or her for their Web Design - or they might just run an ad for Web Design services on CraigsList. As you read about our processes and look over our professional Web Design Specs, ask yourself how many graphic artists ALSO understand the confusing terminology of backlink building, spidering, seeds, frontiers, politeness policies, Slurp, Web 2.0 social marketing, NavBars, image links, search engine indexing, title tags, keyword Meta tags, buttons, interactive design, site "stickiness", Goggle Web analytics, GAP and the secrets to effective online copywriting? Since these are just a few of the concepts needed to be understood for skillful Web Design Optimization and Search Engine Optimization, we advise caution in selecting a Web Design Service and to read the rest of this paper before deciding.

Theory, language and Practice- Like learning to sail or almost anything else, to become good at Website Design, you'll need to learn the theory, the language and then practice the actual process of putting it all together. And after you've done this on a multi-disciplinary level [JUST like we have], you'll probably have learned the hard way and made some expensive mistakes along the way. Unfortunately, there are no "best practices" on Web Design. To illustrate this, consider for a moment running a PPC AdWords campaign on Google for the phrase "Web Design." Just about anyone, regardless of competence and knowledge can pony up $4.70 per click to get their 4-line "text ad" in the 1-3 position on the first Google SERP? This means that anybody who pays to participate in Google's AdWord's search advertising program can get into the game by "hanging out their shingle" as a Web Developer, Web Design Firm, Web Page Design Firm, Web Designer, professional Web designer or whatever they choose to call themselves - and create a Google text ad headline as long as it's under 25 characters.

Our Strategic Website Optimization™ [SWO] Process- Unfortunately, good "Web Development" has no broadly accepted standards for effectiveness - and yet Web Design can arguably be the most critical marketing variable in your marketing tool bag. If you think we're kidding about the lack of standards for Web Design practices, just do a Google search for "Web Design" and call some companies running AdWords "sponsored links". You'll quickly see that the Web Design firms advertising on Google are all over the place in terms of the services they offer and their understanding of this new and business-critical marketing technology. We even liken "Web Design" to the "La Brea tar pit" for the naïve e-marketer because it’s so easy to hire the wrong in-house Web team OR worse yet – engage a Web Design firm that doesn't have the deep strategic and technical knowledge of integrated marketing that you will need to win. But then again, we have a Website-centric and perfectionist view of Integrated Campaign Marketing [ICM] that not all marketers are going to agree with. Although we are preaching here that your choice of a Web Design firm is critical, many marketers may be handicapped by past design decisions - or they might think our longer and more careful Web Design process is going to be more expensive - which it may be in the short term - but not in the long term. So we realize our processes may not appeal to everyone and hope that any readers who disagree with us can pick up some useful “tips and tricks” by reading about our processes anyway.

A Web Design Coaching Service for "Do-It-Yourselfers"- For Web Designers desiring to learn from us and drive our processes in-house, we offer a "Web Design Coaching" Service that is designed for the "do-it-yourselfer." Our service uses the clear documents, templates, processes and samples on our Website PLUS sample deliverables [click the graphic's links], templates and final project examples, that can be downloaded from our numerous on-site links. When you think about it, in today's Web-centric environment, designing a Website is almost as complicated as writing a business plan. In fact when you look at our front-end Web Site Design Services processes [Processes #1-8]; you'll see they are the same as the ones we use for our Business Planning Service. For these reasons we offer our client's the option of our teaching them our integrated marketing processes so that they can internalize them into their business. Or of course, we can tackle the entire project for them if they wish.

Why Choose Us? – Simple – We have a strategic positioning front-end and an IT-integration back-end and use consistent improvement BPM practices in between. Unless you're careful and understand that Web Design AND Campaign Marketing MUST be optimized and integrated as a unified process [i.e. SWO and ICM = the "Promised Land" of first organic SERP rank], your marketing budget can fall into a financial sink hole of inefficient investment of your "demand gen" dollars. We suggest that when you shop for Web Design services, that you use our 18-step process as the basis for interviewing and decision making. If the candidate(s) can talk intelligently about the integrated multi-disciplinary nature of effective Web Development, then you probably are headed to success. Since we're already practicing our 18-step SWO™ and ICMO™ marketing processes, and have written 3 papers on our other formal marketing processes, we hope you will consider us for your Web Design project as either "project manager" or "coach."

An 18-Step Process for Optimal Web Design and Campaign ROI – Here's a brief outline of our 18-step process that includes templates, descriptions and examples of our interim work product deliverables for each step. By clicking on the links provided on the graphic or the on page links below, you can clearly see how systematically we cover all the bases. We encourage email questions about any of the steps and would also be happy to speak with you personally.

  • Step 1 - Free Customized 30-minute Webinar
    • Purposes - The purposes of our Free Customized 30-minute Webinar in Step 1 of our integrated 18-step Web Design and Campaign Optimization process are: to help us understand a potential client's e-marketing literacy, strategic business needs, operational constraints, and importantly - the extent to which the client wishes to internalize the process and do the technical work themselves. During the Webinar we will [jointly] try to size the ROI for the project and discuss preliminary budget alternatives and deliverables and the timing for the proposal to follow if desired.
    • Setting a Time - We arrange by email inquiry to or by telephone to 408-733-4137 a good time to discuss your project and conduct this first step in our 18-Step process. In some cases the Webinar can be done onsite or can be preceded by a more high-level strategic meeting to discuss the client’s strategy for buying marketing services, internalizing marketing business processes and IT integration of these processes.
    • Preparatory Work that We Do - Prior to the Webinar or on-site meeting, our consultant conducts a [free] preliminary review of the potential clients Web site. Our purpose here is to develop an initial understanding of the client's business model, and to make some overall Web design observations to discuss at the customized Webinar. We look at the site's HTML source code [for one or two pages] to see if there are HTML "title tags", "description [meta] tags" and "keyword tags" and to learn if analytics are installed and what they are. In some cases we will choose a keyword and look for other keyword suggestions using the AdWords Keyword Tool or other keyword tools. We also use the Google Webmaster special ["link colon"] command "link:www.client's" and make initial observations as to the quantity and quality of back links, how many are internal page links and how many are from non-paid-for sites. This process usually gives us initial perceptions as to the SEO work that has been done to date on the site. It also gives us preliminary insight into keyword choices relative to the clients strategic positioning and business strategy that may be useful for any PPC campaign we may recommend.
    • Minimum Preparatory Work We Ask the Client To Do- We ask the client to do some homework if they have the time. After we have set a time for the Webinar, we send the client a link to the whitepaper that you are reading now that describes our 18-step process. Since we are process centric and believers that ROI is optimized by process enforcement, we have found that projects are most successful with like-minded clients where we work together to optimize the client’s customer engagement and retention processes.
    • Optional Client Homework - Clients can optionally review our papers on Strategic Website Optimization™ [SWO™] and/or Integrated Campaign Marketing Optimization™ [ICMO™] at prior to proposal discussion. To learn more about the technical details of Web Design and Organic SEO, we recommend four papers that can also be [optionally] studied prior to the Webinar. These papers however, are most relevant if the client is a Webmaster or wants to learn more about the mechanics of our processes:
    • Other Optional Client Homework
      • Skim SWO papers prior to proposal discussion
      • Skim ICM paper prior to proposal discussion
      • Review Articles on Web Design and Organic SEO Mechanics
    • To download this description of our Free Customized Webinar please Click Here or click Step 1 on the graphic.
  • Step 2 - Sample Web Design Proposal
    • Our Web Design proposals [like for any of our Marketing Services] attempt to define with specificity the steps the client wishes to engage us for, the deliverables, project personnel and the terms of billing and payment.
    • For a sample Web Design Proposal Click Here
  • Step 3 - 7 Key Positioning Questions Template
    • We've found it's a huge time saver to first understand the client's business model in terms of their strategic competitive positioning in the markets in which they compete. In Step 3 we discuss and get a handle on both direct and indirect competitors and look for both hard and soft competitive advantages prior to our strategic keyword research.
    • For our "7 Key Positioning Questions Template" Click Here
    • Client Homework
      • Complete "7 Key Positioning Questions Template" and return / discuss / refine.
  • Step 4 - Creative Brief
    • We have found that another huge time saver is to prepare a "creative brief" for the Web Design and Campaign Optimization projects we work on.
    • As Wikipedia notes, the creative brief can be used for any creative project and consists of "a series of simple questions asked by the creative team and answered by the requestor, [to] become the guidepost for the development of the creative deliverable."
    • For the Creative Brief Template Click Here
    • Client Homework
      • Complete "Creative Brief" and return / discuss / refine.
  • Step 5 - Web Research
    • In this step we continue the work we began in our Free Initial Consultation and do a far more thorough assessment of not only SEO factors such as HTML tags, backlinks etc but also analyze the competitors business models using the information we learned in Steps 3 and 4 above regarding products, positionings and strategic advantages.
    • For a sample of our Competitive Web Positioning Research Click Here
    • For a Case History of our Competitive Web SEO Research Click Here
    • Products/Services comparison
    • Competitive positioning analysis
    • Competitive keyword analysis
    • Competitive “Back links” analysis using the Google Webmaster tool and Total Optimizer Pro from Top Net Solutions
    • Competitive marketing ideas to modify and co-op.
  • Step 6 - Strategic Keyword Basket by URL
    • We've found that one of the most frequent errors in Web Design is to write copy before doing Strategic Keyword Research. So we insist on doing keyword research before writing any HTML code or page copy.
    • We work with you to create a basket of "strategic keywords" FOR EACH PAGE [URL] ON YOUR SITE using the Google's AdWord Keyword Tool
    • For a sample of a Strategic Keyword [basket] by URL click here.
  • Step 7 – Define Landing Pages, NavBars / URLs
    • Define NavBar, Drop-Down-Links, and Page Links to align with keyword Landing pages.
    • For a sample NavBar, and Drop Down Menu Specs by URL Click Here
  • Step 8 - Web Design Spec
    • For a sample of what we consider a [professional] Website Design Spec Click Here
  • Step 9 - HTML tags
    • Using the information from Steps 1-7 we are now in a position to write copy. But not copy for the site visitor – rather copy for the search engines.
    • Title Tags form the headline for a search result and Description Tags become the line 2 and 3 copy for the serach result.
    • Writing Title Tags and Description Tags therefore are equivalent to writing 4 line text ads for search advertising programs such as AdWordsd.
    • We then write and rewrite these critical HTML tags with our clients.
      • Title tags
      • Content meta tags
      • Keyword meta tags
    • For a sample of HTML Tag Specs by URL Click Here
  • Step 10 - Web Page copy
    • We then write/rewrite page copy or the text that is visible to the site visitor [i.e., the visible Webpage copy].
    • For a sample Spec for Web Page Copy Click Here
  • Step 11 – Graphics
    • Create/Redo NEW One-Picture-Says-It-All graphic
    • Make sure alt tags of graphics readable by search engines.
    • For a sample Graphics Spec Click Here
    • alt tags of graphics are readable
  • Step 12 - Interactive Design
    • We agree with the Microsoft Windows user interface philosophy of providing 2-3 ways [via text and image links] to navigate to a particular file.
    • We believe the value of off-site links may exceed the risk of "click off" if the education advantages of the off-site link are substantial.
    • Makes sure information links [such as "For more information email us at" takes the visitor to an on-site page so that your log analysis tools can differentiate "bounce off" from interested inquiries.
    • For a sample Interactive Design Spec and "Link Tree" graphic, please Click Here.
  • Step 13 - Strategic Keywords
    • We round out the strategic keyword market basket that you began in the Website design phase in step #6 prior to writing your HTML Keyword meta tags.
    • We research and refine a keyword list for you to actually use in your AdWord's campaign.
    • For a sample Strategic Keywords [Basket] for PPC and SEM please click here.
  • Step 14 - Sample Continuing SEO Proposal
    • We learn from the Organic SEO master Dave Davies on the Ten Steps To Higher Search Engine Positioning and improve his 10-step SEO processes with our strategic front end while surrounding his technical excellence with our Integrated Marketing Services
    • As we launch your PPC campaign on AdWords, our Google AdWords Processional [GAP] certified coaches help you internalize how to manage this yourself going forward.
    • To see a sample of our Continuing SEO proposal please Click Here.
  • Step 15 - Social Media [SEO] Plan
    • We have experts in Web 2.0 cutting edge social marketing who can help you increase the "stickiness" of your Website
    • "Stickiness" is measured by Web analytics software that is used by Google, Yahoo of Microsoft to determine on-site and on-page time in milliseconds. This average "on-page" time in ms, in turn is used by SERP rank-determination algorithms which are closely guarded secrets.
    • For more information on our Web 2.0 marketing capabilities and to see a sample of our Social Media and SEO Proposal please click here
  • Step 16 - Launch Campaign
    • We launch campaigns only after final QA is performed on all copy, HTML source, and of course integrated campaign "touch points" of an Integrated Marketing Campaign.
    • We provide complete QA and Campaign Launch services that are important to both ad agencies and clients - since a "fresh set of eyes" can make for more effective proof reading and detailed campaign pre-launch checking than your own.
    • To download our white paper on Integrated Campaign Markeitng with our PreLaunch Checklist please Click Here
  • Step 17 - Google Analytics, Awstats and Webalizer Statistics
    • At the beginning of Web Design we deploy both Google Analytics and Awstats and some other programs at the beginning of a project.
    • If we are coming into a Website we did not develop - we will install Google Analytics and Awstats as SOP
    • For a sample Analytics Reports please Click Here
  • Step 18 – Campaign "Dial In"
    • We consider ourselves quite proficient in campaign "fine tuning" which we call campaign "dial in."
    • To see a sample Campaign "Dial In" Report please Click Here
If you are an expert in any of our service areas, and available for full or part time work,
Please click here OR send your resume and cover letter to