Website Development for Proper SEO Ranking
Hiring the right website developer can be either a major bonus to your business or a massive headache and time suck. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen visually attractive sites that have terrible back end optimization. Quite often this happens when a business is trying to save money and hires a “pro” web developer on a temp site for a discount rate. From my experience, saving money on the front end will end up costing your business in the long run.
There are a few things that you as the business owner have to take into consideration when building or optimizing your site. Building a website that properly represents your business is an investment. Obviously there are a number of “discount” web designers out there on freelancer sites, and the idea of getting a great deal on a good looking site is appealing. That discount usually comes at a cost.
Building a new website
If you just bought a brand new domain and built a new site, please realize that your site is brand new. I know it sounds silly to have to state the obvious. After years of people contacting me with the “I want to have my brand new site on the first page of Google yesterday” I have realized that sometimes I need to state the obvious. Your brand new site has no power, no links, no authority, and depending on who built your site; you may not even have a Google Analytics or Webmasters account.
A properly optimized site build will help speed up the process of your site ranking naturally. As citations and links are added to the site, it will only increase your site authority and rank. A good looking site without optimization can complicate this process. Cost cutting just to get a site built will cost you more in the long run if you want organic rankings. If you just want a site up and don’t care about how you rank then a cheap build is still not a good idea. Do it right.
Your website is your online real estate. It’s how you represent your brand online. It’s how potential clients find you. A properly optimized site can increase your business incrementally. Treat your site the right way and it will take care of you.
Optimizing an older website
Given the fast paced world of technology that we have right now, it’s basically industry standard to re-optimize or completely overhaul and rebuild your site at least every 2-3 years. Small Business SEO is very competitive and odds are your competition is also looking to rank their site to be on the top of Google. Google is constantly updating their algorithms as well as their ranking factors. It is possible for an older site to lose it’s “juice.”
Depending on how your site is built, it could require a complete overhaul or it could just need a tune up. Sometimes it’s something as simple as making your site mobile optimized. Old sites need love and maintenance, the same way an older vehicle needs maintenance. You can always upgrade to a newer model, or just do what’s necessary to keep it running smooth.
To keep your older site running smooth, it’s recommended that you at least have some type of agreement with a web pro to keep your site working properly.
Website Building Experience Matters
The image below shows how easily you can lose your site traffic if you don’t have an experienced web designer and SEO pro optimize your site. This client bought the business and website and hated the old looking version of the website. His niece rebuilt the site in Squarespace and broke the entire URL structure of the site. While he LOVED the way it looked visually, his business was literally losing thousands of dollars for those couple days.
He had an extensive Adwords campaign running to URL’s that no longer existed. So the 40 or 50 $10 clicks on Google Ads were going to a broken 404 error page. His organic page one ranking positions that he had for years were also going to broken 404 pages. Luckily I caught it and told him to call his hosting company and revert it back to the original site build. It bounced back in about 48 hours…. but those 48 hours cost his business time and money.
Just because it’s cheap or free doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Choosing the right theme for your optimized site
Envato Sucks… 99% of the time.
Why does Envato suck you might ask? In my experience, while Envato does offer a large selection of “premium” themes; they are often buggy on the back end and the “required” add-ons and upsells are unnecessary. These add-on’s will often slow up your site. These premium themes also come prepopulated with dummy content, links, images, and coding that most web developers won’t even bother to edit or clean up for SEO purposes. Quite often these devs can get away with this because most businesses don’t even realize these are there and just want a pretty looking website.
Their support is terrible, most of the reviews are fake and the theme developers are usually on the other side of the planet. A few years ago I bought a theme from Envato for a job website that I was building and I spend a week going back and forth with support about why the term “Specialisms” was written into the hard coding of the entire site. They told me that a specialism was their version of “skills or qualifications” put into one made up word and that everyone has a “specialism.” On top of the made up words that were embedded into the site, they offered to fix this massive error on the theme for a few hundred dollars.
To me, it wasn’t worth it to keep the theme. I wasted a week and lost some money and then had to build my own theme to make the site work the way I wanted to.
Quite often your discount developer has dozens of these themes in their portfolio. They often get shared for free among develop groups and you (as the client) think you are paying for a premium theme that is both broken and probably has an outdated license. This will cause massive issues as your site gets built and updated.
Free stock art ends up costing you
While free stock art is great for certain things, they aren’t always the best option to use for every page on your site. A cheap dev will usually avoid doing the work to customize your images, or at the least rewrite the metadata so that the “free photo by Photoguy on Pixabay” doesn’t show under each image on your site. Improper metadata doesn’t help your site… it hurts it.
If you run a small business it’s better to use real photos of your small business if you really want to connect with your clients. If your site is designed to target a national or global audience, free pics will make your site look cheap compared to your competition.
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the redheaded guy with the beard and the suit on different business sites. The generic handshake photo doesn’t do the trick anymore. Free stock photos are the current version of what motivational photos in an offer were in the early 2000’s. They were very cool in the beginning but were quickly copied by cheap knockoffs and so their value was deflated.
Can you have a good looking and properly optimized site?
The answer is yes. It is definitely better to build a properly optimized site from the beginning, but you can always retroactively fix and optimize a site after it has been live for a time being.
How does your logo look? Is it blurry or is it crisp and clean? Do you have a specific color scheme that your brand uses? Have you considered this? Does it even matter?
Branding makes a big difference in how people identify your business. Cheap looking sites or bad functionality for a website can hurt your brand. Crappy images, ugly themes, lazy site building, and things like typos can all hurt how you are seen across the internet.
How much does optimization cost?
Proper website optimization can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars; depending on the size of the site. When you factor in the cost of building a site and add on the optimization costs, it’s worth it to just have a professional SEO who happens to know how to rank sites build the site for you. This way your site launches having everything set up the right way from the start.
We recently built a new site for a client. They sent us some website examples for what they wanted and we did our best to build both a site that worked great and looked great!
You can see some examples of real pros doing pro website development and optimization.