Thinking outside of the box is necessary in today’s world; just being a fabulous designer is not going to get you recognized. You need to take advantage of all the media outlets available that allow you to market yourself. The internet is golden for marketing and a lot of it is FREE!
I know it is not the first time you’ve been told you need to do social media to stay in business and because you are reading this post I know you’re ready but, BEWARE of the SHARKS!
There are plenty of SHARKS just waiting to take your money and oh…I know this WELL! The SHARKS are the so called ”experts” on SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION) or SEM (SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING) and they are looking for MONTHLY FEES, to manage your site. As I said before I am not the expert but, I will tell you my experience and what I learned in the process.
When you have your website built, a web designer will talk to you about the look, feel and flavor of the site. It has been my experience; the person who specializes in the graphics is not the person who does the SEO. An SEO person is more of the science part of the equation and will talk to you about building keywords and meta tags, and how the spiders from the search engines will crawl your site to see that your key words are what your content represents. They will tell you that with their expertise they will create a site the spiders will like so you will be ranked on the first page of the search engines. Sounds good…doesn’t it? Don’t get caught in a net that is woven by these sharks.
The first SEO sharks we hired, is a nationally know publishing company, who had just bought our local paper. Our first meetings were talking about SEO and marketing. The sharks told us that they could guarantee us one of the top five positions on the first page…NO ONE can GUARANTEE you this…BIG RED FLAG! We were told that my original site needed to be rebuilt, which I knew because we were starting a new entity. I started also interviewing web designers and this publishing company asked if they could bid the website and I thought it made sense because they were going to be doing the SEO…right?
Can you tell by the picture above that I bought it hook, line and sinker? Now, before I signed the contract we did a read through of the proposal, line item by line item and I stopped at the monthly management fee the sharks wanted to charge me for my new site. I asked them what is a management fee and they told me a fee to manage my site.
Hummmm…I told them I had a site since 2004 and I never needed it managed and did not pay anyone a management fee monthly. I had my domain hosted by Liquid Web, a hosting company and I paid a yearly fee for that. One of the sharks asked what I would do if the site went down and I told them I would contact Liquid Web who hosts my domain and have them fix it. When the shark could not answer my question as to what they were managing, he said that it would be okay to eliminate the management fee and we proceeded with the contract. After I signed the contract, paid the 50% deposit the relationship became adversarial and I ended up with a crappy website with no SEO on it. The sharks were fired and I had to start all over again minus a couple of thousand dollars. The next one went a little better; I got a good site but, lots and lots of up charges to the original price.
My suggestion is to hire someone that gives you a flat fee to build your site. Makes sure it will be to your satisfaction and sign off, with no additional charges. As a designer it was important that I got the look and feel I wanted, not what they wanted to shove down my throat. Their motivation is to hand it to you and go on to the next. Be sure you view a portfolio of the web designer’s work and like it before hiring them. Also, it is important to understand there is someone with a graphics background who builds the site and the SEO person usually has completely different talents, so it usually takes two people to get the whole job done. Be careful of the one stop shopping because the firm is probably farming it out and they are touchy when it comes to changes. Hire the web designer separate from the SEO expert that way you are in control and eliminate multiple mark ups, you only want to pay once.
FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT FALL VICTIM TO
1. Avoid the monthly FEES – The only legitimate fee would be someone who is doing a monthly service for you such as monthly analytics. This person you would meet with periodically to go over your analytics and adjust accordingly.
2. Avoid the ONE STOP SHOP – A group that farms out the services. Why pay added mark ups?
3. Only hire a web designer whose style you dig – You have to mesh with the artist. Make sure you add to his contract, satisfaction guaranteed.
4. Avoid the SHARK (SEO) that guarantees to get you on the first page of the search engines – This person is already lying to you.
5. Interview at least three web designers and three SEO experts before making a decision.
My third part series will talk about how I am learning to do the SEM ( SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING ) for the ecommerce site. I hope you tune in to this part of my journey!