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When Coders and SEO Collide

Computer Programming Guest Blog PostIt’s pretty much common knowledge:  Web developers hate SEO experts.  In all fairness, however, the feeling is mutual.  But there are some good reasons for this culture clash.

“Same Thing” Sickness

One thing that SEO’s hate about web developers has to do with the way they execute or fail to carry out a very specific request.

A case in point:  An SEO requests a developer to create a 301 redirect between pages.  The developer does a meta-redirect or a 302 redirect citing that it’s the “same thing”.

From the developer’s perspective, it’s the same thing for the user, but from an SEO standpoint, it affects the search engine rankings.

The Death of Optimization

Developer skills and SEO techniques go hand in hand, so when if a developer fails to do their job, then it doesn’t matter what the SEO team does.  Even with a copy of Google’s secret algorithm in hand, the site won’t rank if the site won’t work.

A case in point:  A client implements some redesign elements.  Suddenly, traffic drops by 30%.

The problem:  Many of the pages don’t load like they should and the ones that do load show 500 server errors.  The developer failed to spot the errors during the development process.

The result:  3 weeks of seriously diminished traffic.

The “I Know SEO” Syndrome

This is a contagious disease that developers get that can quickly spread to other developers.  If you have ever heard a developer say something like I’m pretty good at SEO, it can usually be translated into I’ve read a little about SEO and therefore I pretty much know more than you do.

But wait a minute, SEO’s.  You aren’t immune, either.  There is a related syndrome called “I can code”.

A case in point:  An SEO expert successfully builds a Word Press site and suddenly deems themselves a web developer.

The Real Problem

At the root of the culture clash between coders and SEO’s are their driving philosophies.  Business classes that teach search engine optimization focus on uniqueness.  After all, differentiating yourself from the competition is a good thing.  On the other hand, computer science classes center on making everything the same.  Each discipline takes a different approach to reaching the same result:  stability and efficiency.

What SEO’s Need to Know about Web Development

An SEO expert is concerned with things like page rank, unique content, link popularity, and social media.  They don’t always consider what the role of the coder entails.  Here are a few things for the SEO to keep in mind:

  • Know what you are asking when you recommend changes.  Programming is hard work and when you suggest changes to a website, you are asking coders to do more hard work.  Although not always avoidable, it pays to bear this in mind.


  • Understand how your coder thinks.  A good programmer will take a problem and divide into smaller, more manageable chunks that he will solve one at a time.  Be patient.


  • Learn API’s.  As an SEO, you will be in the numbers gathering business.  Learning a little about scripting languages will enable you to access Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) and retrieve your data from one place.

What Coders Need to Know about SEO

A web designer is versed in CSS, Javascript, HTML, and a host of other acronyms.  And many coders think that SEO is just about keywords and links.  However, there are many factors that are controlled by web designer that can impact SEO.  Help your SEO team by keeping these things in mind:

  • Go easy on the Javascript.  Search engines cannot read Javascript.  But if you must use it, make sure to include an HTML site link elsewhere so that search engines can crawl the subpages.


  • Stay away from frames.  Frames are hard to read and index, so many search engines opt to simply pass them by.


  • Forget Flash.  As visually appealing as it is, Flash is completely unreadable.  In addition, Flash may not be as user-friendly since it cannot be viewed on some devices such as the iPad.

When the domain of the SEO collides with a developer’s world, both can become very frustrated.  The bottom line is that web developers and SEO experts should be willing to learn from each other.  In the end, the objective should be to work together to form a team that helps the client to realize their goals.


Author Bio:

Guest post contributed by Charles Dearing, for WhoIsHostingThis Review – a review site and webmaster tool that enables you to discover which web hosting company any site is hosted with. They also provide information about all the popular webhosts.