What To Look For When Shopping For A Local SEO and Website Design Company

shopping-for-website-design

If you are going to have a website for your business the most likely reason is to generate sales and bring customers to your door, right?

You do know…. just because you build it does not mean they will come.

  • You could tell people you meet you have a website
  • You could get traffic from your social profiles on Facebook, Linkedin or Google +.
  • You could list your website on your business card or traditional advertising.
“But what you probably want is to drive search engine traffic to your website.”
–Chad Eisenhart

But how do you get your website to rank better in the search results?

Well let’s ask Google?   “See Full Answer Here”

“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
-Google Support

So What Should You Look For When You Are Hiring A Website Designer and SEO Company?

Here is a quick checklist to use when you interview the website designer of SEO to be part of your businesses team.

1 – “Does Your Website Designer or SEO Know Google’s Rules?”  -

The rules have changes drastically over the last few years.  Yes the focus was always on the user.  And Yes the rules continue to evolve.  If you hire a separate website designer and SEO don’t assume they will work together well.  You don’t want to be stuck with one telling the other how to do their job, and you left mediating trying to determine who is right.  You hired them to know their job so you don’t have to handle it.

2 – “SEO Friendly”  -

Yes it is very important to have an attractive website.  But what you need is a website that is “Search Engine Friendly” or “SEO Friendly”.  So what does that mean? There is a lot that goes into SEO Friendly sites that can be controlled by the designer.

3 – Keyword Analysis -

You need to think about how your target customers are going to be searching to find your site.  Is your Website Designer doing this.  And if your SEO is try not to get too hung up on specific Keywords.  Take a more general approach that would encompass multiple ways people would search for your product or services

4 – Title Tags  – aka – SEO Title -

These need to be unique on each webpage of your site.  That means if your site has 35 pages, you need to have 35 different title tags.  The Title Tag is 66-70 characters.  It should be written as summary of the page.  It should be written for the user because it does display in the search results.

title-tags-good-website design

5 – Meta Description -

This is also behind the scenes, but is very important.  The meta description allows 156 characters you should try to keep it close and not go over.  Again using the keyword or what the page is about in the meta description can help click through rate.  Note the some of the words are bold.  Those are highlighting the search terms.  Thus making it easier for the user to see if the results are relevant to the search phrase entered.
meta-description-3

 

6 – Robots.txt -

This file gives the search engine robots permission to crawl the pages of your website.  Choose any website and after the “.com” or “.net” add /robots.txt to see of the site has the added file.  Try any site like “https://www.google.com/robots.txt”.  You want it to be set up correctly also.  It is also a good place to list your site map.  See our “robots.txt post” for more information.

robots-txt-file-102

 7 – You Own Your Website Right? -

Who owns the website and all of the content if you part ways?  You should right?  Will they allow you to take the website and move the site?  What program or content management system was used to build the website?  We use WordPress.  Almost 20% of all websites are built using wordpress.  You know if you don’t like us there are plenty of other people you could find to do the work and you will not have to start from scratch.

8 – Easy To Add, Update and Change The Content? -

Are you able to change, delete or add content to your website your self?  See Google’s comments above.  How can you create a a website with great content if you can’t easily add to it?  Check out our client help section to access, edit, add pictures, create new SEO friendly pages – All on your own.

9 – Can Video be Embedded?

Are you able to embed videos to your website? Or will they embed the video for you and is that cheap and easy?  Really it is simple to take videos from YouTube and embed them on your website.  It takes 15-60 seconds and done.  And did you know these video also appear in the search results?

10 – Google + Authorship -

Linking your google + profile to your website and making you the author of the content.   Help your image appear in the search results.  Increase your click through rate.  Makes you stand out as an authority in your industry.  I can’t believe more people are not taking advantage of this.

tree-service-website

11 – Alt Text and Images Named Properly -

Each image can be named and the images can have “Alternate Text”.  Use you keywords in the name of the image and not just “image-1.jpg”  or “image-2.jpg”.  Name it “tree-service-york-pa-s-george-st.jpg”  or “tree-service-in-york-pa.jpg”

12 – Making a Page For Each Product or Service Plus Area You Offer Your Product Or Service -

If you do asphalt paving and seal coating and you service York, Lancaster and Harrisburg, gone are the days of having one page that explains all of your services and areas you service.  You need to have a page for each product or service area.  So in this example that is 6 pages: Asphalt Paving York PA, Asphalt Paving Lancaster PA, Asphalt Paving Harrisburg PA, Sealcoating York PA, Sealcoating Lancaster PA, Sealcoating Harrisburg PA.

13 – Unique Content -

Taking the above example – You need to have unique content on each of those pages.  NO you can not just change out the town name.  If you have a generic site built by a company doing websites for businesses in the same industry and you are just not ranking one problem could be lack of unique content.  Test your site using copyscape.com

14 – Your website submitted to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools?

And do you have access to this information?  Your sitemap should be submitted.  This sitemap tells the search engines what pages are on your site.  With WordPress plugins such Google XML Sitemap your sitemap can be set it and forget it.  When new pages are added your site map is updated, the search engines know it, and all is good.

And don’t be fooled by other services that charge to submit your sites to the search engines monthly.

15 – Who is watching your Google Webmaster Tools account?

There is a lot of information can be extracted such as 404 pages errors “Page Not Found”.  Keeping an eye open to avoid page errors and fixing them with 301 Redirects.

16 – Setting up a Google Analytics Account -

If this is not installed how can you tell what is working or not.  Yes Webmaster Tools tells you good information, but with Google Analytics there is a lot more.  Pages visited, time spent on page, where people clicked within your website, compare to prior periods, setting up goals, and a lot more.

google-analytics-for-website-design

 

17 – Using Dashes and not Under Scores -

What you say is this?  It is the separation of text that names the page

http://www.greatrooferinpa.com/asphalt_shingles.php –  This is incorrect

http://www.greatrooferinpa.com/asphalt-shingles-for-roof.php –

This is correct plus I would add the word roof to help the Search Engines and People know more about that the page is about.

For more information about this topic check out this searchengineland article or the following video from Matt Cutt’s from Google.

 

18 – Communication -

Are phone calls and emails promptly returned?  PS – If you call the main number on my site it always goes to my voice mail.  Leave me a message.  I have my Ipad with 24/7 and emails and text I can usually reply within the hour.

19 – Proper Use of Heading Tags – H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 -

Heading tags are used to present structure on the page to users.  Beginning with <h1>, the most important, and ending with <h6>, the least important (1). Typically text set as an H1 is larger and thus is used to tell users what the page is about.

20 – To Open In The Same Window Or A New Window -

Have you ever clicked a link only to go to another website browse that new site and never make it back to the original because the new website opened in the same window as the website you were on.  You want to keep visitors on your website. Normally if our links are to internal pages on our website the link opens in the same window.  When the link is to a different website we should ALWAYS open the other website in a new window.

 In Summary

There is a lot that can be controlled on a website before most local businesses need to go for a huge expensive SEO package.   Do the basics – dot all the “I’s” and cross your “T’s”,  produce great content, claim your local listings and that will get you a long way.

Use this information to talk to other website design companies and SEO and get their opinions on how to get get your site to rank well.

Another Great Resource for Best SEO and Website Design Practices is put out by Google Called “Search Engine Optimization Start Guide