Historically, Web development firms have focused on design and functionality when building Websites. And while the sites look great and are user friendly, they are not built to drive traffic and convert visitors into leads.
If you want your Website to be a cost-effective, lead-generating tool, then it is important that you evaluate Web firms on more than just their design capabilities. Here are a few questions to ask when hiring a Web firm:
Q1: What’s your Website Grade?
If the firm you are about to hire has a Website Grade less than 70, you may want to talk to a few more firms.
Visit www.WebsiteGrader.com and see for yourself.
Q2: How will our Website be optimized for search engines?
The goal of your site should be to connect with audiences, drive qualified Website traffic and generate leads. You'll want to talk with the firm about their Internet marketing capabilities beyond design, such as: search engine optimization, social media, content publishing and pay-per-click.
Here’s a starting point for on-page optimization to get you ranking higher on major search engines:
- Conduct a complete keyword analysis. Keywords are used for both on-page and off-page optimization, including: Website content, meta data (i.e. page titles, tags, descriptions), blog topics, product/services naming, optimized press release copy, video/photo tagging, anchor text and much more.
- Identify critical long-tail keywords (high conversion rates, low competition)
- Evaluate geographic optimization for target zip codes.
- Establish landing pages optimized for priority keywords.
- Create page descriptions.
- Optimize page titles, headlines, copywriting, meta keywords and image alt text.
- Monitor your rank against competitors for each keyword/phrase, mirror competitor best practices.
Q3: What Website analytics will we have access to?
At minimum, you should have real-time access (meaning it’s available when you ask, or you can login and see for yourself) to the following information:
- Unique visitors by month
- Total visits by month
- Page views by month
- Pages per visit
- Avg. time on site
- Bounce rates
- Traffic sources (search engines, direct, paid)
- Top pages
- Top entry pages
- Top exit pages
- Top keywords
If your current firm doesn’t offer this information, ask them to install Google Analytics on your Website. It’s free, and gives you all the data you need to assess their work and your site’s performance.
Q4: Will we have the ability to change our own content?
This is not a necessity, but a content management system (CMS) that lets you login, edit and add your own content is a valuable and efficient tool for keeping your site optimized and relevant.
If you don’t have a CMS that let’s you edit the site yourself, make sure you know the process to request timely changes to the Website.
Q5: How will our Website generate leads?
Your Web firm must build the site around a desired call-to-action. When a visitor lands on your homepage, within three seconds they should know what action you want them to take (e.g. request a demo, sign up for an event, download a white paper, visit the blog, etc.). This is an essential part of the Website design.
There are probably another dozen or more questions, but asking these five will get you started in the right direction.