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What Goes into a Good Website

When getting bids for your new website, you may experience higher estimates than you expected. And one bid may come in lower. What is the difference? Why the discrepancy? Read on.

With some basic design skills along with website development software almost anyone can put together a website for you. After all, it’s just a set of nice looking pages that link together. Right? Not right.

Because, "if you build it, they will NOT necessarily come."

We always start with a basic assumption in our website development projects: You, as our client, desire many visitors and lots of traffic because you have products or services to sell.

Now, it’s true that some websites are more private. You may want to give out the web address to your clients and customers directly. You don’t want any Tom, Sue or Harry happening upon them in their surfing pursuits. We can develop "web presence" sites like these for less cost than "search engine referral" sites.

So if you're not interested in traffic from search engines, you should never even think about PAGE RANK, SITE POSITIONING, SEARCH ENGINE VISIBILITY, KEYWORDS, METATAGS, LINKING STRENGTH, or YOUR COMPETITORS. And if some of those terms are unfamiliar to you, then you should totally avoid such things as RECIPROCAL LINKING, PAGE SUBMISSION, KEYWORD RESEARCH, KEYWORD DENSITY, and COMPETITOR RESEARCH, and SEARCH ENGINE POSITIONING.

Now, don’t worry, you don’t have to understand any of these terms, because we do. If you want traffic to your site, your website developer must understand these terms and know how to educate you to the degree you wish to understand what goes into your site. We prefer to empower you to understand your site as much as possible. We will train you (or someone you designate) to do certain tasks that will enable you to improve your positioning should you desire to.

What We Do

  1. Design: Our clients’ sites are our portfolio. And we have designed a few standard graphics templates as well. These templates may be a "head start" solution for you or you may wish a custom design. Tell us your needs and we’ll make creative suggestions and you’ll make a selection. Yes, we do links, image links, images rotators, current temperate, links to MapQuest, artwork, still digital photography, video photography, writing, editing, self-enlarging images, live buttons, special effects, site searches, audio background, background design, etc. We can make a beautiful dynamic site with all the special functions you wish.
  2. Testing: We test and add formatting (or new pages) as needed for the following browsers: Windows: Firefox, Netscape, and IE; Mac OS9: IE; Mac OS X: Safari and IE. We make sure your visitors have no errors viewing your site. All browsers are not created equal.
  3. Feedback: We toss ideas back and forth with you until you give us the go-ahead on a design plan. We’ll get your feedback as we put the pieces together.
  4. Corrections: We adjust the design according to your needs, including correcting errors, inadequacies, or miscommunications.
  5. Changes: We adjust the design if you change your mind, or when your reality, data, products, or services change. Most "changes" occur subsequent to the initial release of your site and are subject to ongoing fees or new agreements, depending on their scope.
  6. Keyword research: Essential for positioning! See What Goes Into A Good Website, above!
  7. Positioning: Essential for positioning! See What Goes Into A Good Website, above!
  8. Competitor research: Essential for positioning! See What Goes Into A Good Website, above!
  9. Optional: Page submission. Search engines will find your pages in one to 12 weeks if we don’t submit anything. To speed up the process, we can submit your pages with submission software and you'll get ranked a couple of months sooner. See What Goes Into A Good Website, above!
  10. Communication: Phone calls, faxes, and email generation and receipt.
  11. Administration: Phone calls, faxes, and email generation and receipt to whichever of those in item 13 below are deemed necessary.
  12. Teaching linking methodology: Essential for positioning! We will train you or your someone you designate to carry out this important process on an ongoing basis. See What Goes Into A Good Website, above!
  13. Optional: We’ll set up your E-commerce, including payment gateways, shopping carts, hosting, payment processors, and merchant accounts. We’ll find you the right domain name by doing the research; and we’ll guide you through the domain name registration process (you’ll want to own your domain name) and we’ll get your domain a place to live.

What goes into keyword research

You can participate or choose not to as we target keywords which you think should lead visitors and/or customers to your site. We inevitably come up with dozens or even hundreds of potential phrases that we test for Internet popularity, and discard those that few people ever type into the search engines. For example, if you sell "giggly jimbles," we wouldn’t use those key words because no one is typing them into searches. But as soon as they become a household word because your site is so popular and everyone wants to buy them, and everyone is searching for them specifically, we’ll add them as keywords. We focus on the half dozen popular keywords that have the best traffic-getting potential but do not have too many other sites competing for them. We also include selected phrases that have medium potential for getting traffic, so you may end up with several dozen terms used in various ways on pages, in links, in images, in image links, and in metatags. We combine several tools and strategies in our keyword research: and consider the need for legitimate "doorway pages," keyword popularity, keyword density, placement, and dispersion on every web page.

What goes into competitor research

You can't determine a site design strategy without knowing how many links your top ten competitors have for target keyword phrases. Often, searching their site’s metatag codes gives good clues as to the words they’re winning the ranking wars with, which, in turn, helps guide our endeavors. We can either launch a frontal assault of head-to-head competition against them because they have a puny amount of incoming links, or we can target slightly different keyword phrases. We will note their keyword placements, frequency, and density. And we will assess the quality of links on their sites.

What goes into page submission

This can take a bit of time to set up and run (the more pages on your site, the more time). But if you want to get your site out there the fastest way, it’s indispensable. We can submit one to ten pages per day from any one site to each engine—each engine has page limits which we know and obey. If you want us to run reports on all your page ranks on all the keywords on all the major 100 search engines, we can. The bad news is that it takes a full day of computer time to make this happen, but the good news is that we have a computer dedicated to this task, and we charge only for the brief time required to set up and run and print the reports. The day of a computer being tied up tabulating all this stuff is free. The limit is about 20 keyword phrases per day and per report.

What goes into positioning

Positioning involves all aspects of keyword research, competitor research, page submission, and the site design specifics that all these factors determine is optimal for your site. In addition, since search engines have ranking formulas heavily weighted toward giving sites with lots of links precedence over other sites, we try to insure that someone handles link popularity and link exchange tasks competently. The only reason a site would skip this is if site traffic is not a goal, or because your site is so unique that a top-10 ranking happens without links. This happens occasionally, but it will not if you have even slightly common keywords, merchandise, subjects, or services.

What disreputable website creators say they do, and what they actually do

  1. They’ll tell you how good they are but have nothing legitimate to back it up.
  2. They’ll tell you they’ll get you lots of links so you'll get good positioning. But then they’ll hook you up with a link farm that the important search engines will detect and then penalize you for; this will get you worse, not better ranking.
  3. They’ll find unsuspecting newbies in the website commerce arena and promise a great site that'll make a ton of money for only $3000.00 startup fee and a steep monthly fee. But then they’ll set them up with some turkey that gets no sales. A recent pyramid scam on the web attracts the unsuspecting to "workshops" where shills give testimonials about fortunes made from the sales on their sites that "Miracle Site" created for them. These cons have sites with no ranking in website development, and their links are all from the other players in their pyramid. They say they’ve set up thousands in their own "successful e-commerce businesses," yet they can only show you the 3 shills and other sites that make money roping in suckers to get stung by the fakers, for which they get a commission. We’ve personally bailed one "mark" out of one such ugly "miracle deal."
  4. They’ll tell you they’ll submit you to a million search engines, but the only "result" you get from this is an enormous amount of spam, since 99.9% of all websites calling themselves "search engines" on this planet are actually disguised spam engines.
  5. They’ll promise you rankings and then tell you later you'll have to pay the sponsored link charges they’ve set up for you, since there's no other way to guarantee a page rank.
  6. They’ll pretend to do a lot of work for you but then they’ll use some crummy catalog template (e.g., the one in Yahoo stores). That will not get you any decent ranking. We've helped a client out of this situation.
  7. They’ll pretend expertise they don’t have.
  8. They’ll create useless make-work just to get ongoing money.
  9. They’ll ask for (or contract with you for) ongoing money for all kinds of "ongoing tasks," most of which take either no work at all or a few minutes a month, or year.

How you can avoid being taken advantage of by disreputable website creators

Check their references

If they cannot refer you to legitimate satisfied customers, don’t use their services. If their programmers don’t know HTML, DHTML, JavaScript, and CSS, don’t use their services. If they aren’t telling you that they use, know or have access to all the following, then don’t use their services: page submission software, link checker software, rank checking software, HTML editor software, link development software, gateway administrators, merchant account services, software for setting up shopping carts, server hosts, methods for setting up domain names, domain name research methods, keyword research methods, and whose keyword database searcher service they use, don’t use their services.

Check their client site’s page rankings, and theirs

Do they walk the walk or only talk the talk? Find out the rankings they’ve been able to attain for their other clients.

Get it in writing

It’s not what they say, but what it says in the contract they’ll sign that counts. Does your on-the-phone or email deal match what the contract says?

Understand the disreputable website designers’ strategies

Here are some of the ways you can spot a wannabe, a newbie, a faker, or worse. The newbies and wannabes don’t know any better, while the fakers and scammers hope YOU don’t know any better than to sign up with people who do the following.

  1. Incredible claims and promises: This is a red flag telling you they’ll say anything to get your money. Example: If all the top 50 sites competing with you for a certain keyword set are big corporations with lots of links, they’ll have what is called "high quality links." And even if you get more links than them (which may easily be impossible), and better keyword placement, site design, metatags, doorways (the legit kind), and keyword density, there is no possible way, according to the way Google and Yahoo rank sites, to get better search engine rankings than they have. Only sponsored links will give you better visibility than they have, and this costs you for every click. We don’t recommend it at this time. On the other hand, if your website positioner is expert enough, s/he’ll know how to conduct and apply the appropriate keyword research to get you in the top 10 with relevant keywords that will get you plenty of traffic.
  2. False guarantees: The only way anyone can absolutely guarantee a page rank is if they get you to pay for sponsored links. The best way to assure good ranking is to see if they walk the walk or merely talk the talk: CHECK OUT THE RANKINGS THEY’VE ATTAINED ON THE VARIOUS SITES THEY’VE DONE. We've gotten at least a couple of top-10 rankings for every site we've done.
  3. Postponed costs: The fakers will give you lower up-front bids because there will be ongoing costs and "unexpected" costs down the road. We’ve personally bailed one "mark" out of such a deceptive, disingenuous, exploitative situation (a different person than the other victimized "mark" we mentioned above).
  4. The "ongoing" costs of "website maintenance": There ARE no "ongoing" costs! Aside from renewing your domain name before it expires, and paying your hosting fees when they become due, there are no other costs unless you desire changes, etc. Beware of designers saying they're doing "website maintenance" monthly so they can send you bills every month.
  5. The "ongoing" hosting costs: You can get a good host for around $70 per year and a cut-rate one with less bandwidth for $50. Shopping carts cost $100 (one time fee + one time options costs). That’s PER YEAR! Beware of designers and developers that send you monthly bills that are not 1/12 of these figures with regards to hosting, or set you up at high priced shopping carts that charge you monthly. Better yet, do your hosting deals directly with the host, so the designer doesn’t gouge you! A designer with integrity will have you purchase your own domain name so YOU own it (your designer should never own your domain name—another scam to avoid), and they’ll have you purchase your hosting so that you can be responsible for the yearly or quarterly renewals.
  6. Repeated site submissions to search engines: This is totally unnecessary and just another way for them to get your money for "services rendered." The engines are more likely to penalize than reward for this nonsense. In truth, a good developer will submit your new site once to the biggest 100 engines, indexes, and directories. And then they’ll submit ONLY new or changed pages when they update your site; or to save you money they’ll recommend that you just wait from one to 12 weeks and the engines will all find you automatically, for free, and without resubmission.
  7. "Keeping the site email system going": Baloney! The designers set it up, and they make changes if you ask, but other than that the host email accounts are automatic and need no outside input. A good developer will teach you how to change and add your own email accounts, change passwords, and do spam control, etc.
  8. The use of crummy "generated" or quickie-entry templates: If your site is merely the result of the so-called "designer" setting you up in some crummy looking catalog template or "generated" ASP catalog, you may find that your site is not capable of taking advantage of positioning efforts since generated pages are either not well indexed in the engines or not indexed at all. Engines look for pages of code, not potential pages. (A generate page is one that’s created on the fly from a database.)
  9. Signing you up with ineffective search engine catalogs: We've already gone up against the Yahoo catalog e-commerce website type and beat it hands down. One simply cannot get positioned well while being stuck in one of these template-created sites with no thought to keyword density, keyword placement, metatag use, keyword research, incoming links, and all the rest of the essentials of good engine ranking. You should never pay to be included in a search engine.
  10. Setting you up with pages that are not optimized for positioning: If you have a "pretty" site, it will have NO bearing on your bottom line UNLESS YOU GET TRAFFIC FROM THE ENGINES. A page has to look good to "keep ‘em coming back," but it has to rank well to "get ‘em there in the first place!" Do both!
  11. Failing to empower you about the vital need for incoming links: You’ll want to do your link exchange work yourself or have your kids or an employee or inexpensive college student do it to minimize the costs of this task. Otherwise, competing with the sites with a nice crop of links for page rank is pretty hopeless. It’s fun to do, not difficult, and you certainly won't want to pay the designers $40 to $125 an hour to do it! Your designers should train you and provide the link pages for you to work with. We guarantee that we will lead you to the top rated link popularity and link exchange tool and teach you how to use it (or let you or your representative learn—like we did—from the software’s instructions). IF YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT PAGE RANK OR DON’T CARE IF SEARCH ENGINE SEARCHES FIND YOU, SKIP ALL THIS LINK STUFF.
  12. Submission to thousands or even millions of "search engines": This is a big selling point for many designers. Some are actually so naïve they don’t even realize when they spend a few minutes hooking clients up with all those engines, they’ll be exposing their clients to an unstoppable nightmare of SPAM. There are only about 100 engines, indexes, and directories on the planet worth anything whatsoever, and the rest are spam engines disguised as legitimate search engines but whose only raison d’être is to find email addresses for ongoing spamming.
  13. Hoping you don’t know the words "caveat emptor": Let the buyer beware.