Surfing the Internet or getting a referral are two good ways to begin to find a web design company, but the process of vetting out who to hire is something entirely different.
Getting a referral is great, but that alone doesn’t mean the web design company can build good websites.
It just means the person who referred the designer to you is happy. You can make people happy in many ways that have nothing to do with business: buy the customer a cup of coffee, share your favorite cookie recipe, or say you raise chickens because you like organic eggs… (We do these things too, just not the eggs part.)
Your company’s website is by far, without question, your very best promotional investment. And it will be that way until the cows come home. This is why many of your favorite brick and mortar stores that are downsizing or outright closing. A professional services company that doesn’t have a business-ready website now, risks going out of business.
A business-ready website that will yield SEO for professional services companies is simply a website that will have all the stuff that will help your business to grow.
Do you want to grow your business? Let’s look at the things you need to ask before you hire a web design company so you don't make mistakes you'll regret later:
1) Why is the Web Design Company in Business?
Do they even know? (Many years ago, I didn’t.) A good web design company will offer solutions to help your business - help it grow or find solutions that help you. And if they can't dialog about these things, there's no need to move on and ask questions about SEO.
Many designers still think a website is just a place to hang photos, stick up some text, or boast about your company. Better just to stick with Facebook.
A new website that isn’t designed to help grow your professional services business is a waste of money.
How to vet this out: Look at the web designers' own website. Do they talk about business and marketing, or just web design or tech? Deciding on a nice design is important, but it's super easy; finding ways to grow your business takes strategy.
2) What Does the Company Know About SEO?
Here are a few specific things to consider when checking SEO capabilities:
- Since keyword research is key to SEO, you might ask, “What software do you use for keyword research?” This may seem like a bold question, but since SEO is very important, don’t be afraid to ask it.
- Did the web design company talk to you about “active” vs “static” content?
- What do they have to say about link strategies? This is a trick question: Google algorithms have changed, and many link strategies that worked in the not so distant past will get your site penalized now.
3) What Web Platform(s) Do They Use?
This is not a popular question because it’s a techie one. But it’s an important question because slow loading or poor performing websites will kill your SEO.
Things to look for:
- A good web platform won’t contain “bloatware.” Watch out for cheap WordPress or other CMS’s templates. Many templates have tons of features at a cost of slow loading speeds.
- Insist that your site be fully responsive. Responsive websites conform to smaller screen sizes of mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. Today, a non-responsive site will get you kill your Google ranking. If you want to do mobile-ready test on your current site, you can do it here.
- Ask about their hosting. It is up to speed – literally? If they plan to put you on a low-cost shared plan, you can be sure your site will be slow loading.
- If they plan to put your site on a “loader” framework like Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy Builder, etc., walk away and go the DYI route, because that’s what those platforms are meant for.
These are the important places to start. Be sure to ask whatever other questions are important to you, like questions about design process, timeframe, anti-hacking assurances, and on-going support. Getting a website often means spending serious money. Make sure you're getting the value that will work for you.
Key take-a-ways from this blog post:
- A web designer that has your business in mind will have your SEO in mind too.
- A pretty website automatically does not make a good business website.
- Asking questions now will avoid potential pain in the future.
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