Saturday, April 01, 2023

Just as a caveat, a two-week column may not suffice to address every angle of building a website or the costs involved. Feel free to email [email protected] with any questions you might have.

At the Garb Consulting Group we made the move to merge with a larger web development company named Pattern Fusion a couple of years ago. After referring projects out to others we have some lessons learned. There are many incredible web development shops locally or overseas. A simple website can also be done on your own for a low cost. Just make sure you know what you are getting into before you spend a lot of money.

Last week I spoke about obtaining a domain, hosting and hiring a web designer. Budget earmark your website and make sure your contract includes everything your site will need.

Most web hosting companies, for a small fee, have tools to build a simple website. Years ago, building websites on your own was virtually impossible. Thus websites like www.wix.com built their business on people using their tools to build their website on their own.

Again, if you have a lucrative business and it’s clear you didn’t spend money on a website, it’s better just to list your site with your business name, logo, address and email than to have a site that doesn’t work properly.

After writing this column I met with my own web team and noticed issues with my own site. Building a website is the easy part; it’s the content that becomes a challenge. Sites that are stale or don’t change once a year aren’t a positive thing for the business.

Now that you have a website built, how will you get noticed? Word of mouth is always best. Using social media to drive traffic to your business is free and works. Advertise your website URL everywhere. You can get away these days just having garbcg.com as opposed to www.garbcg.com.

A colleague of mine recently rebuked me for how little Twitting and Facebooking I do. He is correct. I believe our clients in IT are looking more at our website and our consulting company’s results than what I write on a daily basis.

Ashim Adhikari, from Pattern Fusion labs, suggested that one shoud list as many testimonials with the clients’ names and company names as possible, something I was hesitant to do prior to meeting Ashim. Ashim explained that someone may be Googling your client’s name and your site will come up with the results. This is amazing free traffic. A potential client may find impressive that your company comes up with a particular testimonial. Make sure to speak to legal and your clients before posting.

There is a large business in driving traffic to your site called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Again most web hosting companies have off-the-shelf products you can buy. But hiring a company that guarantees business traffic also makes me a bit nervous. I don’t pretend to be an expert in SEO.

As with everything I write, hiring a proper SEO service is the best route if you have the budget. Make sure you don’t get hooked with SEO experts that take your money then tell you it will take two months to get results.

Try this: Go to www.fiverr.com (a website where one can hire Web people for $5) and see the prices and options for SEO. It’s scary what guarantees these people make.

What the SEO web tools or designers will do is put keywords on the front end or back end of your site. For example, if you are a horseshoe maker in Teaneck but you service the entire Bergen county area, the keywords you want on your site would be: horseshoe maker, Teaneck, Bergenfield, Tenafly, Bogota, etc. On your site the web designer may put words like horseshoe maker, horseshoe fitter, horse accessories and in all of the same cities. You may notice some web pages have all this randomness on their web pages? There is a reason for this. It’s all about getting Google to notice you. The dream is that when someone Googles your company, you are the number one or number two hit. If you want, you can pay for Google AdWords. A company will pay Google a fee every time their website is clicked and for this your site is listed right on top.

There are many other items that can be put onto your site that will make Google or other search engines list your website on the first results page. How many of us will scroll to the second Google results page? Right, no one.

Most good web designers will make sure that your company is listed with all of the larger websites like Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, Yelp, etc. Some charge fees, some are free some, are based on customer reviews.

And so, company will pay to be listed with these larger “listing websites.” These listing sites spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an SEO. If you are curious as to where your company lists on the Internet, Google your company. Try your full business name, industry, your specialty then your local town. See what comes up. But think as a client would think.

Would someone Google an IT networking expert who repairs PCs in Teaneck or would they type “Computer Repair, Teaneck”? A good SEO has methods to make sure that your website is listed properly.

Though I have a client that hasn’t paid anything for an SEO, when you search his name he is the first hit! This person built and maintains his website site on his own.

Some business like plumbers, who are open 24 hours, can make their money on being listed first. These companies will spend lots of money to make sure that they are listed in as many cities as possible.

Be careful. Google has rules and there are unscrupulous methods to beat the SEO system. This really isn’t something you want associated with your business. But this happens every day and the client may not even know what the SEO person is doing behind the scenes.

As I wrote last week, my consulting company receives more calls from clients who either had a volunteer who left the country, is too busy, or overstated what they could accomplish than from clients who have hired a proper web development shop. We launched our web development division some years ago due to a great client/friend who had paid thousands of dollars and then was being sued by the same designer. The designer was not in the Web business and was hiring a proper web person who was moonlighting.

We took the time to hire talent full time, and we even provide a project manager on every project.

Follow these guidelines and I think your will be golden:

1. Put everything in the contract up front.

2. Make sure you have access to the website.

3. Your website should never ever be hosted on a privately owned server regardless of the reason or low costs. This has been a nightmare for many clients.

4. When the site is completed who will make the changes? Is there a charge?

5. Make sure you allocate yourself or someone at your company who can dedicate the time to manage and work with the website or team. This includes getting data and testing.

6. Have a budget for when the site is done for future projects or upgrades.

Every web designer will show you the websites they have done–that’s a no brainer. See if the web designer will let you reach out to the client they built the site for. There is always a risk with business and trust is part of it.

It’s still amazing to know that overnight you can have an idea, open a website and you are in business. Sixteen years ago I built my own website. The logo took two minutes to load; I thought that was BLAZINGLY fast. I used a product called FrontPage that no longer exists. I spent many nights trying to figure out things that my 10-year-old could do with Word.

Shneur Garb is the owner of The Garb IT Consulting Group in Teaneck, NJ. For Question or comments email [email protected]

By Shneur Garb

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