When I wrote my first web site 13 years ago nobody knew what a keyword or Meta Tag was. I did notice that in the infant days of search engines some sites were easier to find than others and put 2 + 2 together. I didn’t know it then but search engine optimization was born. Since it has grown into an industry and has gone full circle.
For awhile keywords and Meta Tags were king and queen causing web development split. One person designed and wrote the site and then you took it to someone else to optimize.
Humans being what they are the Meta Tags were abused and turned into a spammers dream. The search engines reacted by demoting the Meta Tags to reference only. This was actually very good. Competition breeds innovation, in fact I have found that by using other creative techniques you can leave the keyword and many other tags out completely.
In the next phase, SE’s (Search Engines) relied mostly on the site content and the SE wars moved there. Competition grew even more fierce. But like Meta Tags there are only so many keywords and everyone is trying to use the same words. Again, I noticed something curious. Web sites that had been re-built to bring up to current standards would move faster and differently in the SEs. This was especially true with re-done MS Front Page sites.
Light Bulb! The cleaner the code the better the rank. Others soon picked up on this and a few years ago Google made a big deal about changing their algorithms. The other major SEs followed and now your page code has become as important as the content and the new SE wars have moved there, to the code and on-page optimization.
Competition is tough here too, and to be an effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) person you have to at least understand code. There are different techniques and tricks used today through code manipulation and on page optimization, the real “meat” of a site, which will cost you if these are ignored. And that is why the code and search engine optimization cannot be separated.
This is the new truth of business on the Internet for the 21st. Century. For your website to succeed you need your code writer / designer and optimization person / team to be one and the same. If your designer is not an SEO person then be sure they work very closely with one.
This leads to another change I have noticed, an evolution of web design companies. Because of the necessity of this closeness between development and optimization many are moving the SEO back in house. And the SEO companies see the writing on the wall too, many have shifted their marketing focus. In the past they worked mostly with end users. Now they are marketing to design companies hoping to form this new code / SEO relationship.
This is what I meant about going “going full circle”. Web site design went from the domain of the code writer and now back again. It is so important for design and SEO to melt together that I think the days of individual companies doing one or the other is rapidly coming to a close.