What kind of search engine optimization (SEO) do you include when you design a website?
SEO is both an art and a science (with some voodoo thrown in!), and I have over 20 years of experience in this field. I include complete and detailed on-site search engine optimization with every website I design, whether it's a bargain basement economy website or premium website with all the bells and whistles.
No, I do not lock you into an annual contract. The creation of your website is a one-time fee (or you can pay over several months), and once you pay for it, you own it. I do offer my Online Maintenance service at 6-month or 12-month intervals, which renew automatically. But all you need to do is email me if you do not wish to renew.
There are no required monthly or recurring fees. Your website is a one-time purchase. Your domain name and web hosting are paid up front on your credit card through tbwebsites.com (a GoDaddy subsidiary) rather than charged monthly. The only monthly services I offer are my Facebook posting services, and the only recurring service I offer is Online Maintenance which is offered for 6 months or 12 months at a time.
The company owner (me!) does all the work. I have no employees and I do not outsource any work, because I'm a perfectionist! By doing all the work myself, I know it will be done right!
No, this is a legitimate owner-operated company and it's my full-time career. I don't have another job, I'm not retired, I'm not a student, and I'm not a stay-at-home mom. I'm devoted to my work!
I do not post my prices for the same reason most of my clients do not post theirs... to discourage "price shoppers" as well as the competition. Plus there are too many options to post everything. Asking how much a website costs is like asking how much a car costs. Or if you're a contractor, to put it in terms you'll definitely understand, "How much does a kitchen remodel cost?" If you are interested in my services, I will gladly go over my prices with you.
If I have all the content I need from my client (wording and photos), I can have a typical website finished and ready to publish within 2 to 4 weeks. However, it usually takes longer as I wait for my clients to send photos, review work I've done so far, make a payment, transfer a domain name, etc. But I always take the initiative to remind my clients when I need something, rather than sitting back and waiting.
It can take several weeks for your website to get indexed by most search engines (added to their search database) for your company name. So if your company name is "ABC South Jersey Roofers", you should appear on page 1 if someone searches for your specific company name. If you get Google Webmaster Tools, however, Google should index your site much more quickly, often within one week.
However, it can take 2 to 4 MONTHS for your website to rise in search engine rankings for your KEYWORDS. So if your company does roofing in South Jersey, you want to rank as close to the top of Page 1 when someone searches for "South Jersey roofers". Thousands of variables determine how long this will take, including the amount of content and number of pages on your website, how much online marketing you do, number of website visits, online reviews, your competition, and social media activity. The more website pages and content, online marketing and social media activity, the less time it will take and the higher your website may appear in search engine rankings. But keep in mind that everyone wants to be on page one, so there's a lot of competition out there! Read my blog about "Google Search Ranking Factors".
Nobody can guarantee a particular placement on search engines. In fact, Google warns against this at https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291:
There are too many variables outside of the consultant's and the client's control to guarantee placement, including search engine algorithms, the client's online and offline marketing efforts, online reviews, social media activity, even the economy, and most importantly, what your competition is doing. Think of it this way: If I guarantee that your website ranks #1 on Page 1 of Google, then I'm also guaranteeing that none of your competitors will rank in that #1 spot. Which is an impossible guarantee, since I don't have control over what other companies do. Any guarantees that a company gives you about where they can rank you in search engines should be a red flag and will most likely be a scam. More information can be found in my blog on "Search Engine Ranking Secrets".
However, my goal is to get your website as close to the top of Page 1 of Google as possible, and if the site is maintained, has backlinks from high ranking listing sites, has more than just a few pages, and the company has a strong and active social media presence, then 95% of the time I'm successful in doing so for most of your major keywords and search phrases.
No, I do not. Most of my clients are service companies rather than companies that sell products. Plus there are tight security, privacy, and credit card laws that govern how e-commerce sites are set up. The extent of online payments that I offer on my websites is a Paypal button so that your customers can pay by credit card or Paypal right from your website. If you want to sell products online, it's better to go through a company that offers a complete e-Commerce platform, such as Amazon.
I do not use WordPress or any automated templates or content management systems. I hand-code all of my sites manually. WordPress sites and those built with other automated systems suffer many drawbacks, such as frequent maintenance issues, security issues and vulnerability to hackers, junk code that confuses search engines which can result in a lower search engine ranking, display and compatibility issues with some browsers, and more. Read my blog about WordPress Disadvantages.
Small changes to text are relatively easy to do. But if you want to change the website layout, colors, design, add photos, etc., it's best to leave that to someone who is familiar with web coding. For occasional small changes, I'll typically charge you for my time at any hourly rate. Or I can make some changes as part of my Online Maintenance service. For larger, more frequent or more complex changes, I might charge for the project or by the month. Every situation is different.
If you're still set on making your own website changes, I'll provide you with your web hosting username and password (if I've set up this account for you) where you can go in and edit the website files. But proceed with caution, as you should have a basic understanding of website coding if you want to edit your website.
Since my websites are hand-coded, any major change to your website's design and layout would require a new website to be designed. Colors and backgrounds can be changed at any time, but the layout and design cannot. This is why it's important to choose a layout that you know you will like in the long term.
How can I get more people to like my company's Facebook page?
The easiest way to get more likes on your Facebook company page is to invite your personal Facebook friends to like the page. Log in to Facebook and go to your company page. Click on the button with 3 dots under the big image at the top of the page and select "Invite Friends". Check the round button to the right of each name, then at the bottom click the "Send Invites" button. They will receive a message asking them to like your company page.
You can also ask your friends and family to invite THEIR friends to like the page, by using the instructions above.
Keep in mind that only having friends like your page is a narrow demographic, as those people already know you. The best likes are from people in your target demographic who do NOT know your company exists, and the best way to get these kinds of likes is through Facebook's paid ads (which I can handle for you). Facebook ads and boosted posts can be seen by thousands of Facebook users in a variety of demographics you choose, such as number of miles from a zip code, age, home ownership, type and value of home, interests, income, etc. If you make the ads and boosted posts interesting to users, they are more likely to "like" your page.
There is no "ideal" month or season, but certain industries are more seasonal than others. For contractors and landscapers (90% of the industries I work with), November through March are typically slow, April through June are typically busy, and July through October are busy with finishing up jobs that were started in the spring (although July and August may be slow due to people taking vacations). From July through October, contractors and landscapers may not get as many new customers as they did in the spring; this is a good time to hit the marketing hard, so new customers will take you into the winter months. And since the winter months are slow, marketing should also ramp up during that time, but this tends to be a "low income" period when the year's budget has pretty much been spent and there's not much left for marketing. Spring tends to bring in the highest income, but business owners tend to be too busy in the spring and summer to focus on marketing. So the simple answer is, get a website built whenever you can!
You can target maybe 2 cities/ counties/ states/ regions on one web page, and you may rank for a couple of neighboring cities around the city in which you are located. But to target more than that you'll need landing pages. Please read my blog on "Ranking in Multiple Cities".
There are several ways to determine if your website is outdated. Please read my blog entitled "Is Your Website Outdated?".
The drawback to using your personal Facebook profile as your company page and posting your company information to that profile is that, in addition to going against Facebook's terms of service, only your Facebook friends (and maybe friends of friends) will see your posts. Also, Facebook users have to be your "friend" in order to view content, your posts will not get found in searches, and your Facebook friends may get tired of seeing your company posts all over their wall. A Facebook page is built specifically for marketing your business. Read my blog entitled "Facebook Page vs. Facebook Profile".
Read all about Pay-Per Click in my "Pay-Per-Click" blog.
The first thing to do is a "whois" check, which will show you who the registrant (legal owner of the domain name), administrative and technical contacts are. Since this is public information, there are many websites where you can check this, along with the domain's creation and expiration dates. The best ones I've found are www.netsol.com/whois, who.godaddy.com, and whois.domaintools.com. Just enter your domain name, including the "com" or "net" at the end, and click the "Search" button.
In the search results, look for the Registrant information. If it's you, that's good news. Check to see who the registrar is (the website where your domain name is hosted, such as GoDaddy, Register.com, eNom, etc.). This is found at the top of the whois results, after "Registrar WHOIS Server" and "Registrar URL". Go to that website, and enter the Registrant or Admin email shown in the whois info. If you remember your password, you should be able to access your account; if not, you may be able to do a password reset if you still have access to that email address.
If you are NOT the registrant, you will need to ask the registrant (maybe someone in your office, or your previous web designer) to transfer the domain name to you. Since the registrant is the legal owner of the domain name, they are under no obligation to give it to you. If the registrant is the previous web designer or online marketing company, generally they will transfer the domain name to you since it's the ethical thing to do. But some companies will ask you to buy the domain name for a fee, basically holding your domain hostage until you give them money (see my blog about "Domain Name Theft" and why you should never transfer your domain name to someone else).
If you ARE the registrant but NOT the administrative contact, and you cannot access your domain account, you will need to get the username and password from the administrative contact.
If there is no contact information on the whois page, or it shows "private" or "Domains By Proxy", there may still be ways to access your domain account but it will be a bit of a hassle. I can help you with this.
Photos have to be properly prepared to add to a website. You can't just add a photo directly from a camera, as the file size will be too large (which will slow down the loading of your website), the dimensions of the photo will be wrong (photo will be too large to fit on the page, or if the website coding makes the photo smaller, the photo will appear blurry, bitmappy, or slightly distorted), and the photo may be too dark, too bright, too blurry, etc.
You'll need to use a photo editing program to prepare the photo before you add it to the website. Here are some of the things that must be done to a photo to get it ready for the website (see more details in my blog entitled, "All About Website Photos"):
Because of everything that needs to be done (and the time involved) to prepare a photo to add to a website, it's usually best to leave this work to someone who has expertise with photo editing. T. Brooks Web Design not only provides web design, online marketing, SEO, and social media, but I also work with images, I create logos, and I'm a Photoshop guru (the ultimate photo editing program).
I already have a free website through Wix/ Weebly/ VistaPrint/ GoDaddy, etc.
When it comes to free websites, the saying "you get what you pay for" holds true. Even if they look great, it's what's "under the hood" that makes the difference... they don't work well with search engines. This is because they utilize proprietary code that does not conform to current coding standards. Google will try to crawl the site to determine where to rank it, encounter a line of code it doesn't understand, and jump off your site to another site. Also, many or most of these "website builder" templates do not offer a way to add proper search engine optimization tags. As a result, your free website may not rank well in search engines. Please read my blog entitled, "Is Your Website Designed Properly?".
These large conglomerate companies are not web design firms. They utilize templates that tend to look generic and are built with code that is outdated and/or does not conform to current website architecture standards. Cheap labor from other countries are hired to simply cut and paste your information into a pre-existing template. Changes to wording is often wrought with misspellings and grammatical errors. Sometimes large blocks of your website text will be plagiarized from other websites, and Google penalizes plagiarized or duplicate content. Even worse, with companies like Dex Media and Hibu, you pay a monthly fee to "rent" the website, which you will never own. Please read my blog about "Dex Media (SuperMedia) and Hibu (YellowBook)".
There are two reasons to have a company website. The first is of course to attract new customers. And the second is to provide information about your company to existing and prospective customers. A professional website can make the difference between someone hiring you or hiring your competition. Even if most of your business is word-of-mouth, here are some compelling reasons why you should still have a website:
You could be the most honest person and do the best job in your industry, but first impressions are everything. Can you get away with not having a website? Perhaps, but keep in mind that those referrals will not last forever, and new customers can generate new referrals. Please read my blog on "How to Create an Online Presence Without a Website for FREE".
Unless the person designing your website is a dedicated full-time web designer, this is a recipe for disaster. Would you trust this person to replace the roof on your house if they had "done a couple of roofs on the side" in the past? If not, then why have them delve into such an important part of your company's livelihood as your website? Just because they're not charging you doesn't mean it's free; there's a "lost opportunity" component to consider. A properly designed website can attract new clients, whereas a poorly designed site may not, or could even hurt your company's reputation if it's a terrible website. The income you lost from not having attracted those clients because of the poorly designed site, is the price you've paid for the website.
The other problem with having a friend, family, boyfriend/girlfriend or co-worker design the site is the possibility that someone may eventually stop talking to someone else. This happens very often. Friends and family fight. Co-workers lose touch. Relationships end. You may not want to make waves with your husband's boss by asking his daughter to fix what you've realized is a subpar website. Mixing business and personal relationships is never a good idea.
My web designer said he has to put my domain name in his name. Is this okay?
Absolutely not. You as the company owner should always be the legal registrant of your domain name (or at least the registrant and admin email address should be yours), not your web designer or marketing company. Some web designers may do this because it's more convenient for them, or they just don't know any better. But some unscrupulous web designers may do this so they have the opportunity to sell your domain name to someone else for a lot of money (read my blog on Domain Theft). More often than not, however, a web designer will do this for control, as a way to keep you under their thumb. This is more likely the case if you're paying him a monthly fee for maintaining your website, and he doesn't want you to stop using his services. Some web designers have been known to extort money from their clients by holding their website and domain name hostage.
Sometimes a web designer is just afraid you'll poke around and cause errors on your website that he'll have to fix. But a good web designer will have backup copies of the website stored elsewhere in the event that happens.
Other times the person who designed your site may not be experienced, so he'll mistakenly store your website files in his own personal web hosting account, or in an account where he stores files for other clients. This is a very bad practice and a huge privacy and security concern.
Other times the person who created your site can't find your password, or they're out of business, or they just don't want to take the time to do it.
But often the reason why a web designer will not give you access to your files is to hold your website hostage so that you can't work with another web designer; this is especially true if you're renting your website for a monthly fee (which is just one more reason why I charge my clients once to purchase the website rather than every month). I've heard of horror stories about disgruntled web designers deleting entire websites or, worse, changing the wording on their client's site to make it seem like the company was closed or engaging in unethical activities. Always make sure you have complete control over your website files, hosting accounts and domain names. Read my blog on Domain Theft.
It's a scam. Just hang up. Don't even ask them to remove you from your calling list, because they won't. Every business owner gets these calls. Sometimes it looks like they're coming from a local number, but they're not; most likely the calls are originating from another country. Read my blog about Online Marketing Scams.
This could be a legitimate web designer looking at your website and seeing that it does indeed need work (admittedly, I make these kinds of calls). But it could also be a scam, someone from a call center making calls to thousands of people when in fact most of the time they've never even seen your website. How can you tell if a call like this is legitimate or if it's a scam? Can you hear a bunch of other people in the background talking on the phone? If so, it's a call center which means it's most likely a scam. Ask for the person's phone number and website address. If they don't want to give it to you, just hang up. If they try to push you into a making a decision NOW, it's either a scam or a commission-driven salesperson. If you do get their information, research the company (read my blog about Choosing a Web Designer). If the call is from Dex Media, Yext, Yodle, Manta, Kudzu, and any other big name online marketing firms, don't waste your time; they want to rope you into paying for services that you don't need. You may get these calls if you've recently added your company information to their free listing sites (see the next question below). Read my blog about Online Marketing Scams.
The more exposure that your company gets, the more your website will be seen by prospective customers as well as companies trying to sell services. This is a normal part of advertising, and unfortunately you can't choose who sees your website or listings.
Also, when your company information is added to the free listing sites, some of them will call you to try to get you to upgrade to a paid plan. Paid advertising on most of these sites is a waste of money, because people don't search these sites directly; they search Google. Or if they do search a site like SuperPages or YellowPages, they'll generally search by distance, and typically will ignore the "paid listings" sections because they're often not relevant to what they're looking for (one of the reasons why Pay-Per-Click doesn't work well). At T. Brooks Web Design, I add free listings for your company on high ranking, reputable sites for two reasons only, to get incoming links ("backlinks") to your website, and to get your listings indexed by search engines. You don't need paid listings with these sites.
When you get a phone call from companies such as Dex Media, Hibu, Yext, Yodle, Manta, etc., simply tell them you're not interested in paid advertising at this time. These are commissioned salespeople, so they can be persistent. Never give these companies your email address, or you'll get bombarded with spam.