Making the Decision
Selecting a web design company shouldn’t be a hasty decision. It should be the result of confidence in that company’s ability to give you the best possible product within your company’s budget. One of the more important pieces in the process, that is often overlooked, is their ability to provide Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services. Wikipedia defines SEO as “the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the ‘natural’ or un-paid (‘organic’ or ‘algorithmic’) search results.” A great looking web site is only as good as its findability. If potential customers aren’t ever reaching your website, then you will never be able to turn that potential into something kinetic.
There are many design companies and freelancers that offer budget website design. More times than not, these websites are template-based and quickly thrown together. More than likely, they do not adhere to commonly recognized web design standards. Non-adherence to web standards alone, can cause issues with search engine spiders. They may have difficulty in correctly parsing your site’s content. If a search engine can’t properly parse your data, you run the risk that the page will not get highly indexed Web Design.
Flash, AJAX and Other Custom Programming
Many sites these days use Flash, AJAX and other custom programming methods to better serve content and functionality to their end-users; however, if done incorrectly, content produced by these methods may never end up being indexed on Google. If a design company or freelancer doesn’t understand how the custom functionality will affect this content, they could inadvertently make your pages unsearchable. By understanding SEO, a programmer can provide you with the same custom functionality, in a manner that is friendly to search engines.
Building SEO-Friendly Sites Bottom-Up
There are companies out there that focus solely on SEO. These companies are especially useful if you aren’t looking for a redesign, but just wish to improve search engine rankings on an existing site. On the other hand, if you are working with a brand new website, it usually doesn’t make sense to hire separate design and SEO companies.
Working with two different companies means receiving two separate bills. This may result in you getting billed twice for the same work if there is any “collaboration” that has to happen between these companies. Web design companies and SEO companies may disagree on how to code certain sections of your site. If this happens you could end up becoming the decision maker on something you are not an expert on, which is why you hired someone else to handle it in the first place. Web design companies place emphasis on design. SEO companies place emphasis on SEO. Companies that provide both services can better balance the two and take SEO into consideration during the design process. This will save you time and money!
Some Companies Talk a Good Game, But Can They Deliver?
Over the past few years, SEO has become a web buzzword. A lot of web design companies claim to “provide SEO services,” but how can you tell if they can actually deliver? Well a good way to test is to see how they rank regionally amongst their competitors. If you were looking for a San Antonio based web design company, you would go to Google and type in “San Antonio Web Design”. If the company doesn’t show up on page #1 at all, then they probably don’t take SEO too seriously.
Another thing to research is the PageRank of the design company, which About.com defines as “what Google uses to determine the importance of a web page.” A lot of times, web design companies like to show off their work. This includes linking back to sites they’ve worked on. If a design company links back to your site from their website, that link will receive more credibility from Google if the design company has a higher PageRank. You can get a PageRank estimate on a website, by using a Google PageRank checker. Typically, you shouldn’t pick a design company with a PageRank of 4 or less.
About the Author
David Stinemetze is the lead web developer at Internet Direct, a San Antonio web design firm offering web design, SEO, hosting, custom programming and social media integration for your corporate website. He is also the creator of Widgets and Burritos, a collaborative blog with an emphasis on web design, programming, social media, privacy and internet marketing.