You can search until your eyes fall out but you are not likely to find a web development company that knows squat about SEO. Many will claim that they can SEO your website. Odds are, though, they can’t.
You have to understand the difference between a search engine friendly design and search engine optimization. They are not the same animal. The fact is, most web designers are not SEO savvy. That’s why you should insist on having your SEO consultant be involved in the web design process.
Too many companies hire a web designer, or web development company, and spend thousands of dollars only to later have to re-do their website because it isn’t getting crawled, or not crawled well, by the search engines. You can save yourself that heartache by insisting that your SEO consultant work with your web design company. If your web design company balks at this suggestion then you should go elsewhere. Otherwise, you’ll end up in the same boat with others before you and have to spend additional money later on redesign.
Here’s the problem: Java and Flash. Two very cool tools, but search engines don’t like them. They make your website snazzy. Yes. But they take tons of code and search engines don’t like sifting through that code to get to the stuff it likes. Therefore, they don’t come back to your website as often and when they are there they don’t find what they need to make themselves happy. You don’t get the ranking you deserve for the keywords you are targeting.
Your SEO is a wise man. He likely has been doing business online since before the dot com bubble (If he hasn’t you probably want to find another SEO). Very few web designers or developers were doing business online in 1995. Those that were probably know SEO and if they know SEO then they’re probably doing SEO, not design work. There are exceptions, but this has been my experience.
OK, back to the beaten path: SEO requires hours of research. Web design doesn’t. Your web design company does not have to research keywords, competition, or anything else to make your website look pretty. But pretty won’t make you money. Your SEO will affect your bottom line a lot more than your web design company ever will. That’s why you should focus on a search engine optimized website rather than a pretty face. Most people could get by if they slashed their web design budget by 50% and put the savings into SEO work. Not only will that save you money immediately (since SEO work is often less expensive than design), but it will make you money in the long run.