By Jon Kelly
There is an old adage: “You get what you pay for.” It’s a common saying that has become cliché enough, some people often forget it’s true. However, when it comes to choosing a web design and/or SEO firm for your business’s website, you could be doing yourself a big disservice if you hire a consultant solely based on the price of the estimates.
Quite simply, if you are looking for a website that is designed to convert web visitors into sales or potential customers, and are banking on SEO to bring you targeted visitors, it never pays to take shortcuts. In fact, choosing a low-cost solution can often cost you more in the long run.
So how do you choose? Well, chances are you are not a web designer or SEO professional, and that is why you are looking to hire an expert. Here’s how to distinguish a good firm from an inexperienced one.
1. Not all estimates are the same
We see this every day. Businesses just like yours are looking for a quote on website design and/or SEO. You may have provided your requirements, but what you get back from company to company can drastically vary. What is and is not included can be different from estimate to estimate. If you select your web developer based on bottom line price only, you could end up paying more for your website and online marketing in the long run.
Think of it as if you’re building a house. One builder’s quote does not include door handles. Another builder’s quote is missing a bedroom. Another quote has all low-end finishes, while a different quote includes custom everything. The end result of all of these homes would be drastically different.
At the end of the day, what are you looking for? Set up parameters of your requirements and then review each estimate with the firm to ensure your web development requirements will be met in the finished product.
2. Not all SEO is actually SEO
SEO is a common word on web development quotes these days. For many firms, the process of SEO simply involves installing a plugin such as YOAST and then autofilling in the meta tags (these days this is the meta title and description which search engines read to see what a page is about). You’ll likely save a lot of money selecting a firm that does SEO in this manner, but your site may never rank for the high quality, high traffic keyword phrases that could bring in the majority of your leads.
Even the most experienced SEO firms will vary in their SEO process. It’s important to know that a well-developed SEO strategy takes time to properly execute. It is a long-term goal where a variety of elements are built upon each other to achieve success. Generally, SEO should start with a consultation and keyword research, which will then form the basis for the website architecture. SEO plays a big part in the content of the website.
Ongoing management and maintenance involves reviewing website analytics regularly and then making the necessary adjustments based on the results. SEO is not a plug-in post website design. While it takes time to achieve results, not implementing a proper SEO strategy will cost you potential leads in the long run.
Think about it this way: An experienced SEO firm may charge an upfront and monthly maintenance fee while advising you it could take six months to a year to see top results. So you decide instead to choose a web development firm that promises you SEO is included in the price. They tell you they’ve chosen keywords and optimized your website—and a year later, your website is still underperforming. By this time you realize you need a more experienced and specialized SEO company, and once again you’re told it could take six months to a year to start achieving results. You’re now looking at two years from when you started the process to reap the benefits of SEO.
Don’t give up, though. The majority of good, targeted leads come from organic search. Having a well-defined SEO strategy is the best way to achieve results.
3. Not all web designs are equal
Generally speaking, everyone wants a website that looks great, and WordPress has made it easy for people to develop and build beautiful websites. It’s very easy to get wooed by all the bells and whistles, though. More important than how a website looks is how it works for your visitors. Looking great and working great can be two very different things. Watch for:
- User flow—Websites should be designed for the visitor and based on what the targeted visitor is expected to want, need, do once they’re on the website.
- Site speed—A lot of the bells and whistles can add bloat to a website which translates into poor speed. If your website takes too long to load, your visitors will leave and you’ll lose valuable leads. In addition, you may see decreased performance on the search engines for a slow website.
4. Poorly written code
What do some of the top templates and inexperienced web developers have in common? Poorly written code. This increases the chance of your website having bugs later on and can decrease site performance. Code should be clean and easy for search engines to read. A broken or underperforming website will cost you in the long run.
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5. Are you getting the features you require?
While not all businesses require custom web development, you do get what you pay for. When you are working with an inexperienced web designer or a designer who is not a developer and can’t create custom features, you will be restricted to the best of their abilities. They may not include features you want and need simply because they do not know how to create them.
In the long run, if your website isn’t serving the needs of your target audience, capturing their attention, and providing them with innovation or uniqueness, you may find it is harder to retain your visitors and turn them into leads.
Think about the long run
This isn’t to say all templates are bad, or that inexperienced web developers do not deserve a chance to succeed and are not capable of delivering top results. But, quite simply, there is a cost associated with selecting the wrong firm for your needs. This cost comes in the form of time, money, and lost potential revenue.
If part of your business model and goals is to succeed on the internet, properly setting yourself up for success the first time is key. Choosing wisely now will allow you to take advantage of potential opportunities sooner.
We understand many businesses are on a budget. However, selecting a web development and SEO partner based solely on the bottom-line price rarely pays off in the long run.
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