Knowing when you need to hire a professional
Ok, I’m probably a bit biased since I design websites professionally but I think anyone who is serious about their business needs to have a quality website that represents that. So often clients come to me who have built their own DIY site (usually with Wix or Squarespace) and after many, many frustrating hours, they hire me to build them a WordPress website. Remember: your time is valuable and you should be using it to do the things that you do best to support your business. So most of the time, just hiring a professional off the bat can save you tons of time and money!
The first step to building a great site is great design, which starts with a logo and branding scheme (colors, fonts, etc). If you’re not a designer and thinking of doing-it-yourself, see the above statement. This is definitely not part of your business that you want to skimp on, so hiring someone on fiverr or letting your college-age cousin do it for free isn’t ideal. The logo is often the first thing people see when they go to your website, look at your business card, read any printed materials, look you up on social media, etc. It is imperative that it be a professional representation of you!
Obviously, you want your site to give visitors a good overall impression of your business and why it’s awesome. And while having a lot of content might help boost SEO (see below), the name of the game is really quality, not quantity. You want to have an easy-to-navigate site where everything important is put in a logical place. Think of who your typical visitor will be, and then imagine the least tech-savvy member of that group and design your site for them.
“If you build it they will come”. . .unfortunately not true on the web. Just having a site up and running and looking good is usually not enough- that’s where SEO (search engine optimization) comes in handy. Google is the top-dog when it comes to SEO because they are by far the most popular search engine on the web, and they set the standards for which sites get listed highest in searches. Every year, however, these requirements/ suggestions change so it’s important to stay on top of it (or hire someone who is on top of it). This year, Google is prioritizing a few things:
- Secure Sites. You’ll notice that most websites start with “https”, not the old “http”. This is becoming more and more important for several reasons, mainly SEO. This security is important to give visitors peace of mind, especially if they are sharing personal information and/or making purchases on your site. In the past, I have told clients that it’s not particularly important to have a secure site unless you’re accepting payments, but now Google is prioritizing these sites. So basically, if you want your site to show up well in search results, you need the SSL certificate.
- Keywords and titles. When I build a WordPress site, I always add the Yoast Premium SEO plugin. Once this is on your site, you’ll notice a place (at the bottom of the page) on every page and post where you can enter the page/ post title, description and keywords. Often, coming up with good keywords for your business requires some research. The easiest method is to type some obvious search terms in to Google, and then look at the bottom of the search page for “searches related to ___”. That’s where Google gives you suggestions of similar search terms, which you can use as keywords. The title and description sections should be more juicy- with all of the important keywords/ phrases/ sentences that you know people looking for your site will search for. Yoast tells you when you’ve hit the sweet spot as far as number of characters for each section.
- RankBrain. RankBrain is a machine learning system that helps Google sort their search results. Basically, the longer a person spends on your site, the higher Google will rank the site. Blogging definitely helps with this. If you have awesome, engaging blog posts that keep people on your site, you’ll see a big boost in ranking. Also, video is a great modern-day way to engage people for longer.
If you’re interested in digging deeper, here is an in-depth list of Google’s Ranking Factors.