I had a very interesting conversation with a professional website designer the other day. I thought I would share some of the topics and insights I gained from the lengthy conversation. I was talking to him about a redesign for one of my websites. I emailed a check list of things I wanted on the front-end of the site (complete with pictures, descriptions, and references) and a check list of what I wanted on the back-end. When we spoke over the phone, he told me what I had emailed to him a week before was for a top-tier website and could cost anywhere from $20k to 50K. This blew my mind. I have been taking notes and collecting data for years on what I want my movie website to be like, how I want it to function, and look like. Obviously I had taken good notes. He confirmed this as I brought up topics in my checklists that a novice never would, things I would never have two years ago. Besides the price shock, I was hit by how much I didn’t know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Website Optimization, things I had never thought of or considered (and I thought I knew a plethora about the subject). I thought I would share what I learned with you guys. What he had to say over our conversation (about an hour and a half) was very insightful.
Here are the main highlights of the conversation:
- If he were building a site, he would do so in raw HTML, not WordPress (much to my chagrin). That way he could create whatever he wanted. He said there are subtleties that can not be exploited without creating something from scratch inside HTML.
- He would tailor file names for SEO.
- He would tailor file paths and folder names for SEO.
- He would use keywords for category titles. I already have but I will refine them more. He suggested instead of Film Review as a category for all your movie reviews, segment them by type. For a horror movie use something like Horror Film Review or Horror Movie Review. Ex. If I am writing a movie review for a film that could be categorized as Scifi, he suggests posting it in a category like Scifi Movie Review. This helps with Google, telling its spiders exactly what type of film review it is looking at.
- He said the naming of pictures is important if you employ them. He have said so numerous times in these posts: Using SEO optimized Images in your Posts to Increase Pageviews and 5 Ways to Optimize Images for Increased Pageviews and SEO.
- He said meta tags are not important, that description tags are still important, and that Google ignores keyword tags. He went on to say that meta keywords help with these search engines: Yahoo and Bing.
- He said the meta name description is a summary of the website in a search engine result. Its your sales’ pitch so make it good, a potent marketing description convincing the viewer to click through to your site.
- He said this is the search engine split: 80% Google, 14% Yahoo, 6% The Other search engines. He said your default efforts should be focused on Google and Yahoo.
- He concurred with my checklist item about limiting the use of Flash. Actually, my checklist says not to use it at all but he was a little more liberal than I am about its use.
- He mentioned when you send your specs to a web designer, ask for non-disclosure or send a non-disclosure letter/form to them to sign and send back to you. This protects your intellectual property. You didn’t want your ideas going out the window for others to use.
- He advised having an SEO professional do the initial SEO setup of your website then to read up on SEO yourself and do the continuous tweaking yourself. Ask to see the SEO professionals previous work and/or his portfolio. Ask how many heavily trafficked keywords he has been able to bring a new site onto the front page for in a search result.
- He told me he has read many books of SEO, attended numerous seminars, and told me a few website horror stories e.g. one evolving a site built for $8K where the person didn’t know what to ask for and the designer was inept. He told me that the one SEO book I should read was Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets by Andrew B. King. Most of tips he gave me, that I reiterated to you above, were generated from this book he told me. I am picking up a copy for myself. Just the info on SEO for file path names, something I never even thought of before, makes this book worth it. Check out what purchasers of the book had to say. You should read this book before starting a movie website and definitely read it before you pay to have one built. Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets will help you figure out what to ask for from the web designer, how to weed out the good ones from the bad ones (through these questions), and what you want included in your website’s back-end.
Did you find this list useful, insightful? What have been you experiences with website designers? Leave your thoughts below.