I would think that for 99 out of 100 companies, the website was created and then some sort of effort made to “do some SEO” later. This really isn’t the right way to go about things, but if you’ve got a website and you’re not thinking about starting again any time soon, you have no choice. However, those of you who do have a new website on the horizon have a great opportunity to design the site with SEO built in.
This is not a job for the website designer. I’ve seen companies who think that designing a new site with SEO in mind means remembering to tell the designer not to forget about it. What they get is a site which has the facility to have nice page titles and description tags. This might be important but it’s just a useful extra.
Designing a new site with SEO in mind means thinking about search from the start. Ideally, you’d design the site around keywords, not your product catalogue. Keyword research would be the very first exercise before even sketching out the structure. This might require a compromise with reflecting the company structure, but whatever the outcome, it’s something which can – and should – be done even before talking to a website designer.