Are Redirects the SEO or Web Designer’s Job in a Site Build?

Today, we’re talking redirects. If you’ve ever been in the throes of launching a new website, you know the thrill and stress that come with it. It’s like moving into a new house—exciting but also a logistical nightmare.

And just like you wouldn’t want to move in without ensuring your utilities are set up, you don’t want to launch a new site without having some SEO basics in place. 

But here’s the million-dollar question: When you outsource a site build project, is it standard for it to include some SEO aspects, such as redirects? It’s a question that has come up a few times in the Sisters in SEO group, so let’s take a look.

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The Reality of SEO in Site Builds

First, let’s get one thing straight—what’s considered “standard” can vary wildly. Some developers and designers are SEO-savvy and include essential SEO tasks in their packages, while others focus strictly on design and functionality, leaving SEO to the specialists. It’s like ordering a burger—sometimes you get fries included, and sometimes you have to order them separately.

Before you even get into the project, it helps to make sure these issues are covered in your contract or work-for-hire agreement. See if you can suss out who’s doing what. Here’s a handy list of the minimum you want to see spelled out in the project plan (and if you don’t see these accounted for, ask your client before getting started!):

1. Redirects

This is a biggie. If you’re redesigning or restructuring a site, you’re going to need redirects. Lots of them. Redirects ensure that your old URLs seamlessly lead to your new ones, preserving your hard-earned search rankings and avoiding those dreaded 404 errors.

But while some web devs include this in their services, others see redirects as out of scope. It’s crucial to clarify this upfront. If they don’t do it, be ready with a spreadsheet for bulk uploading, or brace yourself for some one-by-one action.

2. SEO Titles and Meta Descriptions

These little snippets are crucial for telling search engines what your pages are about and enticing users to click. However, don’t expect your web developer to handle these unless it’s specifically included in the scope. This task is more aligned with content creation and SEO strategy, so it’s typically something your SEO team should handle.

3. URL Structure

Logical and clean URLs are important for both user experience and SEO. Good developers should naturally create sensible URLs, but it’s always good to confirm that this is part of their process.

4. Basic On-Page SEO

This can include things like setting up heading tags (H1, H2, etc.), optimizing images with alt text, and ensuring mobile-friendliness. While some devs include these as part of their best practices, it’s not universal. Make sure these are covered in your project scope.

Recommended reading – Productize: The Ultimate Guide to Turning Professional Services into Scalable Products, by Eisha Armstrong

5. Site Speed Optimization

A fast-loading site is crucial for both user experience and SEO. This includes optimizing images, leveraging browser caching, and minifying CSS and JavaScript. Again, not all developers automatically include this, so be sure to ask.

6. Schema Markup 

Schema markup helps search engines understand your content better and can enhance your search result listings with rich snippets. While some developers include this as part of their service, it’s often considered an advanced SEO task that may not be covered.

7. XML Sitemaps 

An XML sitemap is crucial for helping search engines index your site efficiently. Some developers will set this up, but it’s not always standard practice. Make sure to ask if this is included, or be prepared to create and submit it yourself.

Knowing who is responsible for XML sitemaps and redirects – two important aspects of SEO – is essential in your site build.

8. Canonical Tags 

Canonical tags help prevent duplicate content issues by specifying the preferred version of a webpage. This can be particularly important for e-commerce sites with similar product pages. Check if your developer includes setting up canonical tags.

9. Analytics and Tracking Setup 

Setting up Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and other tracking tools is essential for monitoring your site’s performance. Some developers include this in their services, but it’s not a given.

10. Security Enhancements 

HTTPS implementation is critical for SEO and user trust. While most developers will ensure your site is secure, double-check that SSL certificates and other security measures are part of the package.

This is not an exhaustive list! But these are among the most essential elements to ensure someone is doing – and if that someone is you, it needs to be part of your scope.

The biggest lesson here?

It’s all about communication. Before you kick off any site build project, have a clear conversation with your developer or designer about which SEO aspects are included, including redirects. Spell it out in the project scope and contract.

As a web dev or SEO professional, you don’t want to be on the hook for tasks you assumed the other party was handling. And as a client, you don’t want to end up with a really pretty website you assumed would be optimized, but is not.

If your SEO team is separate from your dev team, get them talking early on to ensure everyone is on the same page. Early collaboration can save a ton of headaches down the road.

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