You are the marketing manager for your company and tasked with rebuilding your company’s website; however, you have no online marketing experience and have no idea what to look for or who to hire to build your website. Perfect, this article is for you and will help the inexperienced internet marketer better understand SEO and the questions to ask when hiring a website development company.
Website Design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Considerations
Many first and second generation websites are more than a decade old, designed with little to no thought about website optimization, in terms of both search engine optimization and user engagement optimization. So what? What is web optimization and why is it needed?
What good is a website if it cannot be found in the search engines? What good is a website if the user experience is poor and visitors leave the website immediately? In some cases, not having a website is probably better than having a website design that is so poor as to leave visitors with a negative view of your organization.
Fall is the perfect time for organizations to review and evaluate their online marketing strategy and the impression of the website design and experience. If your website is less than stellar, your company is at a competitive disadvantage. As a marketing manager, one of the most direct ways to improve your company’s brand reputation and potential for success is to ensure your organization’s website is visually impressive , intuitive and interesting to visit. Now is the time to make plans for a better website next year.
What to Look for When Redesigning a Website
Depending upon the industry and level of competition, a website redesign can be fairly straightforward or fairly complex for those organizations offering many products or services. Here is a list of several important considerations when vetting a digital marketing agency (I suggest going with a marketing agency, rather than a small website design firm/person, because of the broader scope and resources available with an agency.):
1. Establish a baseline – research your competitors. A practical starting point when deciding what your redesigned website should look like and how it should function, is to take a look at your competition and how their website is designed. Do your homework ahead of time and discuss with management those websites that are liked and those that are not. This will become a great starting point toward understanding what is desired as well as what to avoid.
2. When researching your competitors, try to understand why some competitors rank well and why others cannot be found in the first page or two of results. While the inexperienced marketing manager may not know what to look for, visually evaluating your competitor’s websites will begin your journey into better understanding what terms are used, where they are positioned and how the website’s menu and navigation are laid out.
INSIDE TIP: When you find a website you like, take a look at the bottom of the page to see if credit has been provided to the website design firm. You may wish to contact this design agency, who can provide valuable insight and an idea of cost.
3. Contact at least three digital marketing agencies to discuss their approach, past clients (listen for experience in your industry) and price. Ask them about what role search engine optimization and visitor engagement play in their website design and development process. Take notes and ask questions. If you are unfamiliar with certain topics, educate yourself to better evaluate the answers received.
4. Ask for references. The best way to understand the capabilities and success of a design agency is to speak with previous and current clients. Take a look at the website(s) of these clients. Do all the websites look the same? Or, is each website crafted to fit the individual needs of each client? Differentiation of website design from one agency shows diversity and an ability to adapt to different industries and situations.
5. Still unsure of how to proceed? Ask for a website review, or audit, from the short list of agencies being considered. Which agency conducted the most thorough website audit? Who was able to walk you through the results and provide sufficiently clear explanations and course(s) of action?
INSIDE TIP: Most agencies will provide a FREE website evaluation, which is a great way for you to better understand current website issues and solutions. An agency may require a much more in-depth analysis (for a fee) prior to final design and development.