SEO vs Design: The Ongoing Battle

SEO vs Design: The ongoing battle

seo-vs-designSEO and design are now part of the same team. They want click through rates, site traffic, call to actions, increased sales. They both rejoice in their success when numbers are up, and blame each other when numbers are down.

Sounds a lot like two rival siblings doesn’t it?

How convenient then that I have an extremely talented brother who is passionate about web design and development, and I, equally aggressive in my own field of SEO. How fitting of a metaphor is that?


When a designer gets to work purely based on what his perspective of a consumer gets everything looks so pretty and charismatic. It captures the eye of people that find it. The keyword (pun-intended) here is “people that find it.” I’m not saying you’ve done a bad job, because quite frankly, I am not nearly as creative or talented as some designs I’ve seen him create.

Some of JJ liwanag’s works

I love design, in fact I probably should have gone into some sort of designer specialty myself. But I stupidly chased the American Dream of “accounting” (I’m allowing you 5 minutes to take breather after that one). I do see the value and eye-catching ability of these images, interfaces, experiences. But [for me] what’s the point of having these designs if no one comes.

Examples of thriving design. Are you kidding me? Zero content, and they dominate the cloud space organic search. Designers were so intelligent with this they didn’t need SEO. With the help of a powerful business model and snagging link equity for being so… so… simple… gave them no reason for content. Why dilute your website with text people don’t read when all your product needs is a gorgeous, simple, and fast design?

On the other hand…


When SEO gets to work without design looming over his (my) shoulder everything becomes this:

opticsplanet is awful

How many of you actually read that? I did not. I saw a bunch of symbols that seemed to create a message of some sort of spammy message with a bunch of blue underlined annoying things.

Look, I’m in this field and I’m embarrassed by bad practices. Let’s be honest people SEO isn’t the most enjoyable thing to do in this world. But I enjoy the constant moving target, and the enormous ongoing king of the mountain type fight going on with competitors. I enjoyed reading up on industry news and testing different strategies to see what works and what doesn’t. SEO may outwardly look boring, but the action beneath the design is just as creative.

Examples of thriving SEO Speaks for itself. Everyone knows what it is, and what they started as. A simple book company that went took some SEO steroids and revolutionized the ecommerce world before anyone knew what hit them. How did they do this? SEO. Just looking at the site gives you a wonderful example of how they skipped the gorgeous navigation systems and went straight to content. They’ve taken over search results pages and caused enterprise companies to make the digital transition towards ecommerce or risk selling your business to… Amazon.


Designers and SEOs will most likely always clash on different tactics. But finding a process that both can be integrated into each project can lead to those nice quiet joyful moments. Stressful situations will always happen between siblings but finding a way to the top of that mountain where it’s one way or the other, a process and open communication must be in place.

Did you enjoy that Awesomeness? @andrewliwanag if you want to compliment him. Or comment below if you want to argue with him. But I warn you – he will not lose.

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