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Web Programming or SEO

seo, php

4:14 am on Apr 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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After learning html and css I have come to a fork on my journey to become a web master. I have found an interest in both Web Programming (php and mysql) and SEO. I find both choices challenging in different ways. I believe that due to the ever advancing complexity of the interet it is really only feasible to choose one path. Could any real experts list the pros and cons of each? Ease of monetizing either path?

I believe programming involves much more of a tech person that really understands logic and coding while an seo expert is more of an analytical salesmen?
4:34 am on Apr 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld FrankL3C!

If I had to do it all over again, I'd choose the programming route. You can easily incorporate SEO into your programming skillset. In fact, you'll most likely be forced to.

You see, I believe SEOs need to understand the coding portion. And if they are professionals, they will most likely want to understand the logic portion. Since that is the case, you might as well take the programmer route and add SEO as one of your technical disciplines.

You can do both!
4:13 pm on Apr 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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As one who's gone the other way - build it (programming), then make it work (SEO) - I say both. The problem with learning programming/site building first is you begin to develop habits, a lot of them bad ones. Habits that affect SEO, cross browser compatibility, security, and when you finally face the epiphany that you have been doing things wrong all these years, you have to tear it all down and build it again.

If I have one beef with most programming out there, it would be this, that it is usually "ok" programming but has really awful output. Tabled layout. Invalid (X)HTML. No way, or poor ways, to generate SEO characteristics.

I'd suggest to revise the one path theory. I work with people daily that assume this posture. Without knowledge of all the other aspects you need, you will have skewed expectations of your other contractors, as they would of you, and often not know whether you are being bamboozled or not. (All I want is a simple this or that. Why are you telling me it's impossible/expensive?)

For any one path to work, and work well, you have to have an intimate knowledge of all the other aspects of a healthy web site.
4:20 pm on Apr 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Yes, both (three, as PHP is a programming language and MySQL is a database) together. It gives you a serious leg up on the programmers who don't know SEO (a lot) and SEO "experts" who don't know programming (and/or databases). Being able to integrate all three aspects makes you much more valuable than someone who has to outsource the other aspects.
9:21 am on Apr 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Great question.

I had no knowledge of HTML or php/mysql when I started working as an affiliate/web publisher many years ago. I learned some html/css and focused more on the SEO part of the business. My websites are all very clean and simple, but this is also a result of my inability to build complex websites. Like pageoneresults, I would learn programming if I had to start over from scratch. I have had OK results with my websites and still do, but you get to a point where you feel stuck. You want to build something bigger, you have good ideas, but you just can't put them into practice because you don't know how, you don't have the skills. Very frustrating.
7:13 am on Apr 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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SEO related to building a search engine friendly site first, before the programming. As someone previously pointed out, when you are learning something you could learn bad habits, which you have to undo when you know better.

The reason is, generally, a programmer isn't involved with the actual content creation, just the functionality of the site from a programming point of view. With your search engine friendly program construction you will give your clients a starting point to build from.

From that point you can expand your services to include other aspects of search engine optimization.
7:47 am on Apr 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This is an interesting question given that I see significant portions of the SEO space being taken over by people with a marketing background, many of whom appear to have little or no interest in the programming and coding side of things.

I think the negative effects of programmers being let loose on the web without a clue about SEO is most easily demonstrated by looking at the most popular forum, blog, and CMS systems out there, many of which still do not have even the most basic of SEO factors built into the design.