Should Web Developers Be Trusted to do Your SEO?

web development SEO
First off, I am allowed to write this post without prejudice because I was a web developer and desktop application developer long before an SEO.

To answer my own question: absolutely not!

Most web developers have the best intentions in mind when they are creating your site.  A lot of them have a ton of SEO skills that they’ve picked up along the way, and have a general idea of how to do on-page SEO anyway.

Developing a website is such a huge part of SEO.  Years ago the way a website was designed was not nearly as important as it is now.  You could always throw more links at a website and it would rank.  These days Google places such an important emphasis on site structure, user experience, flow, URL structure, etc that shoddy web development simply cannot be overlooked.

Here are a few scenarios that we’ve encountered over the last year:

Scenario 1

Most web developers are very logical.  They are used to working in a very structured setting and for things to generally make sense.

While SEO is dictated primarily by one or more algorithms, a lot of the times it can be very chaotic, confusing, and a lot of the time not make sense.

Recently we consulted on a project where a web developer was “finishing up a project.”  We had asked them not to implement any on-page SEO, but they had told us that it was too late and they had already begun their process. When the site was delivered to us we took a look through the website and its code.  Her is what we found:

  • the URL structure wasn’t bad, and was somewhat SEO friendly. It-used-words-within-the-URL instead of code and symbols.  The only problem was all of the URLs had cityname-keyword at the base of it.  This was one of the first red flags.
  • all of the img alt tags were stuffed with very long keywords, most of them were identical and all of them were too long
  • all of the title tags were the same, and were about 200 characters each
  • all of the meta tags were the same, and were about 400 characters each

Unfortunately when the site was delivered to us, it had already been live for about 4 days and indexed in Google.  It took twice as much time for us to undo what was done than it would have for us to have done it ourselves.

Scenario 2

One of our clients had a developer working on their site, and noticed an issue that they wanted to fix.  That issue involved a plugin that assigned title tags and meta descriptions to all of the pages and posts (over 200 total).  The plugin also handled all of the categories, taxonomy, noindex and nofollow tags.  The developer decided to remove the plugin and replace it with another one.  This event caused a chain reaction of events which included the disruption of the sites internal PR flow, removal of all title and meta descriptions as well as many more site features with regards to SEO.

I wanted to give these 2 examples not to complain about the situation, but to illustrate the point that web developers live in a different world than SEO’s do (again there are many exceptions.)


One of the best solutions that we have found to working with web developers on an SEO project is to insist that all SEO is left out of their duties.  This will ensure that no harm can be done and you can perform SEO on your site the way you want to.

If you ask 5 SEO’s how to do SEO on the same site, you’ll probably get 5 different answers.  That said, there are no right or wrong answers, only preferences.

If working with a web developer that is not in-house over a long period of time, it is best to establish a framework for do’s and don’ts along the way.

But most of all, if you are working with a web developer, show them how you like things to be done.  Teach them over time.  It can only benefit you.


Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe is the founder and CEO of Elite Strategies Llc. Patrick takes a hands on approach to managing Elite Strategies and loves to get involved with technical projects relating to clients inbound marketing needs.
Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe
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