The Importance of Choosing the Right Web Professional When Growing Your Business
Posted on: September 22, 2016 | By: WebLight
Having been involved in the web industry for over 10 years, I often find myself having to clean up messes made by previous web designers. Given that the “barrier to entry” for the web design business is fairly low (i.e. anyone with a laptop and a SquareSpace account seems to call themselves a ’web designer’), it is common for many startups and small businesses to find themselves in a situation where, due to the lack of proper budgets to allocate towards their web strategy, they need to hire “cheap labor.” This can potentially lead to down stream issues because “cheap labor” isn’t always a wise choice when it comes to the highly technical nature of designing a web property. That which is cheap can end up being very expensive in the long run. One experience in particular stands out in my mind.
I recently responded to an ad on craigslist from an eCommerce company calling for an “SEO Specialist.” I received a response almost immediately and arranged a meeting. The premise was that this company, which had been in business for over 20 years, suddenly noticed a drop in traffic that then resulted in less sales. This particular company had such a niche product that they relied heavily on organic search traffic to generate sales. According to them, “something happened” which led to a drop in traffic, which then led them to believe they needed to hire an SEO Specialist.
The importance of responsive designs
Upon reviewing their web site, I made one major observation: the site was not responsive. A site’s responsiveness refers to it’s ability to adapt to any screen: desktop, mobile, or tablet. This, per the latest Google algorithm, will lead to a lower page rank. My experience told me that the first thing this company needed to do was redesign the site into something that is responsive, given that we’re currently at a point where about 50% of web traffic comes from a mobile device. In their desperation, I quickly sold them on a redesign.
The Google Analytics issue
The more I worked on this project, the more dysfunction I discovered. I kept finding different web sites owned by this company with various different domains. I counted 3 different web sites with 3 different domains that essentially did the same thing and sold the same products. The first thing I found was that all 3 web sites used the same Google Analytics account, making it virtually impossible to analyze any of the traffic. I quickly created 3 separate accounts to track the three web sites separately.
The 301 redirect issue
After my second meeting with this client, the plot continued to thicken. What they told me was that they had hired an office assistant who convinced them to redesign their web site. After doing so, their traffic dropped significantly. I had previously noticed that there was a large amount of traffic going to their 404 page which led me to believe that this individual did not properly redirect the old pages on the original site, which had already built up search engine equity to the corresponding new pages on the new site, leading the majority of their organic traffic to be sent to a 404. This explained the drop in traffic. To make matters worse, according to the data in their Analytics, it looked like, after the traffic drop, they reverted back to the old site and then began hosting the new site under a different domain (which explained the multiple web sites). By this time, though, the new site had already been indexed, so shutting it down caused an even bigger drop in traffic!
The YP.com issue
As if things weren’t bad enough, throughout all this, they had been paying $1,000/mo to YP.com in order to be featured as the first listing in their product category, but the URL that YP.com was redirecting to was a dead link, which meant that they were spending $1,000 monthly to purchase traffic that they were not receiving!
At the end of the day, we finished the redesign, I properly created a 301 redirect to ensure that no traffic was lost, I shut down and redirected the duplicate web sites, and I had them immediately cancel the YP.com payment. There was an immediate improvement in the health of their organic traffic and their business ended up stabilizing. I also saved them a lot of money!
Sometimes as a consumer, it is far too tempting to go with the cheapest option, though this may not always be the wise choice. If your business is highly dependent on the web in order to stay in business, then it is essential that you hire a web professional that has the knowledge and expertise to help your business grow. Your web developer should be a strategic partner, providing service and advice that will help your online business grow. Going with the cheapest web designer could have significant implications to the health of your business, and that is not a decision you should take lightly.
If you’re interested in hearing more about how weblight can help your digital business grow, feel free to reach out to us here.