Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Website design is very subjective, and crucial for getting both a visitor's attention the attention of the search engines. In a nutshell a website must have an attractive graphic design that is appropriate and comfortable for the visitor. Content needs to be well organized and the visitor should not have to work to find what they want. There are many approaches to solving these problems, and visiting other websites with the viewpoint of your visitor is the first step to help identify what works and what doesn't.
Organization is also the key for Search Engine Optimization. Search engines rank pages on the focus of their subject material, how closely related the pages that link to this page are, and the subject relationship with the pages the this page links to. The links that the search engine spider follows can be controlled to help with this, and we should organize the internal links between our pages to create silos of related pages that link together.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is used to elevate the position of your website in the search results pages from Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines. The process is divided into three distinct tasks: content design, keyword management and link building.
Search engines locate websites and pages with spiders, which are applications that follow links from page to page, site to site, and eventually catalog everything they can find. What they find is critical to our first level of optimization, because the spider identifies the subject of the page from its content, calculates a rank for the page relative to similar pages it knows about, and then files it indexed by the subject and keywords related to the subject. Pages that are too general in subject or link to widely different subjects on other pages will receive a lower rank and then appear farther down the list in the search results.
The primary source of keywords is the content, where words that identify the subject appear frequently. Google, Yahoo and Bing place less weight on keyword meta-data (that's special information) embedded in the page header, but it can help. Meta-data keywords can also count against the page if they do not correspond to the actual content of the page.
Link building is the most sensitive and potentially catastrophic area of SEO. The number of other pages that link to your page may make up about 85% of the calculation of the rank that your page receives. But the rank of the linking page has a bearing on the rank of your page and the subject of the linking page should be the same your page subject, or the link may have a negative effect on your page's rank. Building links to fast or listing the page in an excess of directories are also obvious attempts to inflate the page's rank and will have a negative effect. The simple rule is that the majority of directories and most organizations that solicit links to your page should be avoided. It's very easy to misstep in link building and get blacklisted right out of a search engine entirely!
The fourth component is to control what the search sees in the result list. At this point we are stepping beyond where the page appears in the search results, once we have elevated its position we still need to get the viewer's attention! While this cannot be defined for all search providers, Google does address this with their "Rich Snippits" which can be used to assign the text that appears on the search results page.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. Will you use the right technology for my project? While some providers only address your web design with their favorite tools, our focus is on a complete solution that addresses all your goals. The actual technology to use: ASP.NET, Java, PHP, WordPress or something else, depends on what you need, not what the designer "prefers".
Can you help me communicate what I need from you, when I don't understand the technical side of things? Too many developers and designers fail to recognize the reason why a customer comes to them in the first place. We understand that you need our technical skills, otherwise you wouldn't be contacting us. But we also understand that you do not speak the same tech language we do. All of our staff members are highly trained developers as well as INSTRUCTORS of the technologies we use (which is every technology available for web development). So we have the ability to communicate at all levels of knowledge.