When you don’t know all the bits and pieces of what you’re buying, it’s hard to know whether your choice of vendor is the right one. If you don’t know what’s going on with your car, can you trust the mechanic? If your HVAC system was installed by the previous owner, do you know what you really have? It’s the same thing with a website.
There’s a bit of mystery involved with designing a good site, coding it properly and making sure your search engine optimization is correct. When we are asked to give a quote on revising a site or designing a new one, we do research. What we see when we look at your source code and check out your optimization is frustrating. And when we look at the directories? Well, it gets worse. The point is, what you don’t know, CAN hurt you – or at least hurt your business. So make sure, whoever you’re talking to, that you get the whole picture. Here are some tips.
- The design. Are you getting a customized design site or is the developer using a template? While nearly every design starts with some kind of template, how much work the designer does to customize the site to your business makes a difference.
- The content. You might be able to write the copy, but is it really going to enhance the site? Most marketing professionals take an entirely different approach than you will. The copy written by a professional will be more persuasive and value-driven.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). You would be surprised at how many sites we see with no search engine optimization. Or, the SEO is sloppy. There are duplicate page titles, missing or poorly configured Meta descriptions and H1 headers that are not fully consistent with the primary keyword combinations for each page. OK, let me explain. This type of sloppy SEO work means that you’re not going to get the traffic to your site that you’re expecting. It can be a beautiful website, but entirely ineffective.
- Site map. Is a site map included in the price? An XML sitemap is necessary to register your site with Google and Bing – pretty important in today’s world!
- Responsive. A responsive site is one that responds to the device requesting the URL – in other words, the site will look good on phones, tablets or computers. Frequent web searches on phones make a responsive site a necessity in today’s world.
- Is it secure? All sites need to be secure sites from this point on (2018). Google will no longer index sites that are not responsive or secure. In fact, unsecure sites will get a warning from Google that the site is not secure. Most people will refrain from going further. You may think that all sites are secure, but they are not. You can tell if a site is secure by looking at the URL of the website. If it begins with “https” instead of “http” it means the site is secured using an SSL Certificate (the s stands for secure). The SSL Certificate assigned to a site secures all of your data as it is passed from your browser to the website’s server. To get an SSL Certificate, the company must go through a validation process.
- Directories. After your site is live, you may also want to have the site listed in directories – like Yelp.com, Google My Business, Yellowpages.com and others. This is an added service that most web developers can do for you, but you may have to ask. These directories will help people locate you. Even if your company works out of your garage, being listed in directories will help you be found.
Don’t let the price of a website dictate which vendor you use. You can get a site that’s inexpensive, but not good. If your site doesn’t bring you leads, there’s no reason to have one. The best web developers will either include the features noted above, or work with others who can do the work for you. If you’re talking to a developer, or just thinking about revising your site, give us a call at 301-467-2501. We’ll be glad to guide you through the process.