7 min read

Website Agency vs. SEO Agency: Key Differences

Every business taking its digital presence seriously focuses on website design and search engine optimization. This invites a lot of comparisons – should you hire a company that specializes in web development, or SEO? Is it better to hire a company that specializes in SEO, and also does ‘some’ web design, or vice versa? If budget is a factor, which should your organization prioritize?

Dan Bowen

Dan Bowen

Founder + CEO
Published: May 25, 2022
Last Updated: April 29, 2024
(Web Design/Digital Marketing)
Website Agency vs. SEO Agency: Key Differences

Here at BOWEN, we approach these tasks holistically – growing businesses need a company that can offer high-quality web design and SEO, and they need to be able to do both of them very well. A glowing new website with little to no traffic is a tragic thing. At the same time, traffic has to be relevant to the business and eventually convert to desired high-value actions. If users are bouncing off your website left and right due to an outdated web experience, an SEO-leaning approach will also fall short, as it may improve search visibility, but to a page that cannot capitalize effectively and retain user engagement.

Department Synergy

The answer is to work with an agency that has specialists in both web design and SEO services. These are team members who can work synergistically, and will be present at the start of your project. This avoids the most common (and expensive) pitfall of hiring one company, then the other – disjointed communication between agencies that impact strategy, efficiency, investment, and results.

There are also considerations to be made as early as before pre-launch, where you will want an SEO specialist in tow to strategize your content marketing to attract as many users as possible.

These components feed off of each other constantly. It is a commonly known fact that site speed and user experience on all devices play an important role in how Google ranks websites, ultimately determining how much traffic they can potentially receive. Rankings are not static, either – so website updates, changes to key pages, and other factors should be carefully monitored by both web development and SEO professionals.

Here are a few more detailed reasons you should consider an agency with a breadth of experience in both web design and SEO to handle all of your digital marketing efforts.

Website Agency vs. SEO Agency

Pre-Launch SEO

The search engine optimization process begins as soon as the website goes live. That means you need SEO professionals readily available who can prepare the finishing touches to make your website as search engine friendly as possible. Otherwise, search engines may begin indexing the non-optimized site, showing incorrect information – or possibly not indexing your site at all, creating a more difficult start in establishing the new site than necessary.

Pre-launch SEO tasks include submitting the site to be indexed by search engines in Google Search Console, and properly tagging website content to increase the likelihood of appearing for key search results.

Website launches are an arduous process that heavily involves multiple specialists for the best results. These tasks often involve some level of cooperation or shared access between web development and SEO companies. Some tasks are considered post-launch or content upgrades to be established further down the line, and that may put restrictions on potential success from SEO and digital marketing efforts. At the same time, a big influx of traffic leading to an outdated looking website will not lead to the success desired or maximize the potential of that traffic and investment. When both tasks are all being fulfilled by the same company, it’s a lot easier to make sure nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

Pre-launch SEO

Post-Launch SEO

This is where many businesses make a critical error. They hire a web design company with a basic understanding of SEO for early efforts, and then presume they can hire an SEO company afterward to further marketing efforts. On a practical level, this appears to make sense. However, this strategy has some issues with execution.

SEO is not an instant solution, and it takes time to see the results of these efforts. Instead of incorporating SEO from the beginning, the business choosing to move to an SEO company has extended the timeline, and will not see their results until even later. Any decision that slows marketing effort needs to be carefully thought out before commitment, particularly in the early days of a new website.

If you follow this “one, then the other” approach, you may find the SEO company may not be in alignment with how the web development company took SEO into account from the content, UX, and technical components of the site to begin with. The new company will also be unaware of any intentions the original team had for later implementations, which may result in a site update undermining search engine optimizations at a crucial time.

This level of integration can be very difficult to establish between two outside companies, and lead to a mess of emails and confusion. Projects will also take longer than necessary, as each team will have to spend time wrangling various site permissions and clearing their process. This can become incredibly costly in the long run.

With websites, it is incredibly rare that any given task belongs to only one department or the other. This is where agencies shine. Agency partners are able to integrate these teams, design, strategy, and more to deliver a comprehensive marketing plan and keep all tactics aligned in service of the client and their growth objectives.

Weighted Specializations

Weighted Specializations

As the old adage goes, “if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Using separate web development and SEO companies can create additional difficulty in diagnosing issues and establishing progression. Naturally, the SEO company will see most issues through the lens of a potential SEO problem – and the web design company will do the same from a UX/UI or technical standpoint.

When these are handled by the same organization, a single meeting or brainstorming session can arrive at comprehensive solutions that leave no stone unturned. In a situation where these teams are segmented in different businesses, one company will often have to retrace the steps of the other to ensure elements in their purview were handled properly – essentially costing your organization double to complete important projects.

While it’s possible to have a skilled team in one discipline that also understands the nuances of the other, these tasks are both firmly established industries – and to become an expert at one often comes at the expense of neglecting another. Whether that is applying outdated SEO knowledge on behalf of the web development team, or search engine optimization requesting design elements that will damage site performance, it’s best to have a strong distribution of professionals with varying experience.

The Winner Depends

In our experience, there is no ‘better’ when discussing website design agencies and their SEO-focused counterparts, because both are equally critical to the reputation and success of a business. In a situation where your company is already performing at a satisfactory capacity, and you’re looking for slight improvements in one area, hiring two companies will still be helpful to move your organization forward.

However, we typically find most businesses are looking to reach higher levels of performance, where various aspects of digital marketing become increasingly important. While you may only need a quick redesign to your homepage now, the market is ever-changing, and you’ll want to know the company you work with is capable of handling such things later on. That way, if the time ever comes when you’re looking to expand, you don’t have to go through the process of finding the right agency partner all over again. Better yet, the team you partnered with will already be aware of your prior efforts – reducing any need for onboarding and diving straight into execution.

If this method sounds like a fit for you and you’d like to hear what personalized insight and strategy would look like for your business, reach out and contact us. BOWEN leverages years of experience in website design, SEO, and more to provide holistic recommendations.

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