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Search engines rank web pages not websites. In order for all of your pages to get crawled and indexed by the major engines, you require a website design that is search engine friendly. However, that is only the first step. Content not optimized for search, or that lacks keywords, can also hinder your ability to appear in a search engine results page (SERP). Ranking high on these natural search pages will, no doubt, empower your business on the web.

Below are the three stages:

Before
If your marketing goal is to get found in a search, the ideal time to bring in a SEO is before you even select your web development company and platform. Not all companies are created equally – and neither are their solutions. Some web designers lack the understanding or expertise to build a site that is compatible with Search Engines. The end result can be a pretty site – that nobody can find!

SEO - Before, During or After?
SEO: Before, During or After?

During
While (ideally) a search engine optimizer should be involved prior to the website development stage, there are still a number items that can be addressed. A SEO professional can consult on your site’s template layout, structure and content issues. In most cases, these can be resolved prior to site launch.

After
Not the most ideal situation. But often a common situation. At this stage (post launch), the process generally begins with a SEO website audit with recommendations for improvement. This often involves website redesign to a certain extent. In the worst case scenario, the client faces scrapping the current website – and having an entirely new site built.

Unfortunately search engine optimization is often still an afterthought. Typically, optimizing for search engines only becomes a priority after a business discovers that it cannot get found in a Google search for its key services or products. It likely goes without saying, but hiring a Search Engine Optimization Specialist before site construction, would have been more cost–efficient.

And… on a side note, ensure that you have a web analytics program, such as Google Analytics, to track your organic traffic from search engines. This is important to understand how successful you are at getting this free traffic from the major engines.