Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Information about T. Brooks Web Design and my web design, online marketing, social media and related services

What kind of search engine optimization (SEO) do you include when you design a website?

I perform complete and detailed search engine optimization with every website I design, whether you're spending $300 or $3,000. I don't charge extra for onsite SEO, such as "per keyword" fees that some web designers and SEO firms charge for.

Are there any annual contracts, or monthly or recurring fees?

No Contracts

I do not lock you into an annual contract when I build you a website. My web design service is a one-time fee (which you can pay at one time or in installments), and once you pay for it, you own it.

My Facebook Services do recur, but they are optional and you don't have to purchase them just to get a website.

There are also some services (like ongoing Website Maintenance and SEO Tuning) that I offer at 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month terms, and many of them renew automatically, but I give you a heads up before that happens and you can always choose to not renew.

Domain name and web hosting services recur every 1, 3, 5 or 10 years, but that's through your domain/web hosting company, which I set up for you at no extra charge (other than what you pay the hosting company). I will work with you to help you decide which options are best for your needs.

How many employees does your company have, and do you outsource any work?

I (the company owner) do all the work. I have no employees and I do not outsource, because I'm a perfectionist. By doing all the work myself, I know it will be done right!

Is this a part-time gig?

No, T. Brooks Web Design, LLC is a legitimate owner-operated company and it's my full-time career. I don't have another job, and I'm not a student or a stay-at-home mom. I'm devoted to my work!

What are your prices and why don't you post them on your website?

I do not post my prices for the same reason most of my clients do not post theirs... to discourage "tire kickers" and competitors. Plus there are too many options to post everything. Asking me how much I charge to build a website is like asking a contractor how much he charges to remodel a kitchen. I can give you a "range", but if you're really interested in my services and you're not just "price shopping", I'd be happy to go over details on the phone such as your budget, available options, payment plans, etc.

If you ARE price shopping... I'm not the cheapest. But I'm also not the most expensive. You get what you pay for. A 10-page website that only costs $500 is like a cheap meal at a buffet joint in a bad neighborhood... you get a lot of "stuff" that might look good on the surface, but you'll pay for it in the long run!

Do you provide wording and images for my website?

If I provide wording about your company, much of it may be duplicate marketing "fluff" because I don't know your particular company like you do. Duplicate website wording can result in poor Google rankings, and potential customers may not find generic wording compelling enough to stay on your website (or call you).

Duplicate Website Content

Although it may take time for you to come up with wording and images for your website, it will pay off in the end because both Google and consumers value original content. So I ask my clients to provide their own, ORIGINAL wording for their websites. Don't worry about spelling and grammar; I take care of that, and I make your wording "read" well both for website visitors and search engines, including adding all the necessary SEO elements which means that I might move some of your words around, add keywords, etc.

YOU know your company better than anyone, and your website is your chance to shine. Write your website text the way you would explain your business and services to a potential customer. What will you say to try to convince them to hire you? What makes your business unique? Why are your services better than those of your competition? This is what you need to say on your website!

The same goes for photos. It's always best to use your own. Stock photos "look" like stock photos, and many photos you find online are copyrighted or belong to someone else. You don't want to run into legal issues over copyright infringement.

Of course, I can and will provide text and stock photos for your website if you really prefer, but I advise against it.

How long does the web design process take?

If I have everything I need (wording, photos, domain and hosting all set up, etc.), on my end I can have a website finished and ready to publish within a few days to 2 or 3 weeks. However, it usually takes longer as I wait for my clients to send photos, review work I've done so far, make the next payment, etc. But I always take the initiative to remind my clients when I need something, rather than sitting back and waiting.

My website was published 3 months ago and I'm not showing up on Page One of Google Search. I'm concerned.

Concerned About Website Ranking SEO

It can take days to weeks for your website to get indexed by search engines (added to their search database) for your company name. So if your company name is "ABC South Jersey Roofers", within a few days or weeks you should appear on Page 1 of Google if someone searches for your specific company name.

However, it can take weeks to MONTHS for your website to rise in search rankings for your keywords and search phrases. So if your company does roofing in South Jersey, you want to rank as close to the top of Page 1 of Google when someone searches for "South Jersey roofers". Thousands of variables determine how long this will take and how high you will rank, including the amount of content and number of pages on your website (the more pages the better), how much online marketing you do (backlinks), number of website visits, online reviews, your competition, social media activity (this one is important), Google Search Console, and more. Remember that everyone wants to be on Page One of Google, so there's a lot of competition out there!

Can you guarantee a first-page ranking on search engines?

Nobody can guarantee a particular placement on search engines. In fact, Google warns against this on their official Google Search Console Help page:

"No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google."

There are too many variables outside of the web designer's and 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.

However, my goal is to get your website as close to the top of Page 1 of Google as possible, and if the website is maintained on an ongoing basis (including addressing Google Search algorithm updates), has backlinks from high ranking listing websites, has more than just a few pages, has a page for each of your services as well as landing pages for your most important service areas, has many 5-star reviews on high-ranking websites such as Google My Business, and you have a strong and active social media presence, then it's very likely that your website will rank well in Google Search results.

Do you do build e-commerce websites?

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 rules that govern how e-commerce websites are set up. The extent of online payments that I offer on my websites is PayPal buttons so that your customers can pay by credit card or PayPal for one or just a few products or services. If you want to sell a lot of products online or have an online store, it's best to go with a complete e-commerce platform (you can do a Google search for e-commerce website builders).

Do you use WordPress?

I do not use WordPress or any automated templates or content management systems. I hand-code all of my websites manually. There are many disadvantages to WordPress websites and other template sites, such as frequent maintenance issues, security problems and vulnerability to hackers, junk code that confuses search engines which can result in a lower search ranking, display and compatibility issues with some browsers, and more.

How do I make changes to the website after it's published?

Small changes to text can be relatively easy for you to do yourself. But if you want to change the website layout, colors, design, add photos and pages, etc., it's best to leave that to someone who is familiar with website coding. For occasional small changes, I'll typically just charge you for my time. I also offer text and photo changes as part of my Website 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 your hosting account) where you can go in and edit the website files. But always proceed with caution when you're making changes to a website.

Can my website's layout be changed after the website is published?

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, pages and photos can be added or swapped, fonts can be changed... but the layout and design requires the building of a new site. This is why it's important to choose a website layout that you know you will like in the long term.

When is the best month or season to get a new website?

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!

At Google Trends (here) you can view monthly charts for how people are searching for certain search terms and keywords by month. Or if you're in NJ, read my blog on Seasonal Trends in New Jersey.

Our website and online marketing are done and now I'm getting calls from companies trying to sell me services.

Unsolicited Sales Calls

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 business listing websites, which are free, some of them will call you to try to get you to upgrade to a paid plan. Paid advertising on most of these websites is a waste of money, because people don't search these websites directly; they search Google. When is the last time you did a search on YellowPages or MerchantCircle? And even if someone does search on those sites, they'll generally search by distance, not by clicking the paid listings at the top.

With my Online Marketing service, I add listings for your company on high ranking, reputable websites 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 websites.

When you get a phone call from companies such as Dex Media/Thryv, Yelp, 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 your web designer's name or contact info!), or you'll get bombarded with unwanted emails and phone calls.

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