Don’t Let Friends or Family Do Your Website Design or SEO

Mistakes happen when friends or family get involoved with your Website design and SEO. Simple as that!

1) Basically it will never get done. Why? Cause they are doing it for free and they just may get around to your website if they feel like it if they have a spare few hours. Months and months will go by and nothing will have been done. This is a certainty. After all, what they might promise you after a few drinks at the family BBQ, may not actually transpire. My guess is they will have forgotten about it. We get a lot of people coming to us at Hopping Mad Designs who have waited literally 6 months or a year and still don't have a site. We are left to pick up the pieces.

2) If things go pear shaped then so will the relationship, fights dohappen, lines in the sand drawn – a total nasty scenario. It’s easy to leave a designer, but a relative is not so easy. Calling and hassling them is not on if they are not getting paid for this. Imagine what it would be like if you only spent the money and got a professional outfit to help you out!

3) In the internet world, if your business has even the slightest chance of succeeding, you need to be working with a professional web and SEO team. Your website will never rank on Google and will not be designed for maximum customer conversion if it is handled by an amateur. Google has made ranking a website very specific and for this reason, you need an experienced SEO agency advising you on strategies and ways to out maneouvre your competition.

4) What experience have they got with SEO – the slightest bad link or the smallest on page website error can result in your website not ranking. Seriously, are you going to leave your business or livelihood to someone that has the ability to jeopardise it. Get real….this is your life you are trusting in the hands of a non professional – so be warned of the really bad outcomes that are awaiting you. Google penalties, lost clients, no money, loosing staff are just the beginning.

5) Are you going to leave it to them to write the copy, choose the images and handle the hosting, domain name registration and manage the whole project – how are they going to do this on a shoe string budget, after school/uni hours etc?

Most likely not. All you will get is a template  that will look the same as every one else.

6) If you are in a competitive industry then you are going to need a site designed that is better than the opposition. The designer your choose MUST be able to create a site that will not only generate new business but also lays the groundwork for a search engine campaign. This takes a lot of skill and is not something that can be added later on once the site goes live. Everything needs to be mapped out early on, right at the first briefing meeting where your designer and SEO manager can plot the course for your online domination. Left to someone who has little or no interest in your websites success and who is doing this as a favour to you is simply a recipe for a massive meltdown. No jokes – I have seen the results many times before of what can happen to a website and the internet marketing if left in the hands of a relative.

Look, it’s your business and if you want it to work you can’t have an off handed ‘she’ll be right’  approach to this. It just doesn’t work!

You may have been able to do this a few years ago when you had other forms of marketing to rely on for new business. But, the competitive landscape for digital marketing is too sophisticated and needs someone who knows what they are doing to guide you. Like anything you need done for your business, you should have a professional look at it. Saving money up front may seem like a great idea, BUT I swear to you that in 99.99% of the cases things do go belly up.

Mistakes Businesses Make When Launching a New Website

Make sure You Have 301 Redirects In Place.

Let’s assume for 1 minute that you are really concerned about your search engine rankings. Launching a new website is therefore an important decision and if you are wanting to keep and grow your organic rankings then you need to pass the authority from your old website to the new one. This requires your developer to implement what is called 301 redirects. What this means is that when someone clicks on your old web page ( that has previously been indexed and ranked by Google), they will be immediately redirected to the new webs page.

Make sure that your inner deeper web pages within your site redirect to the same pages within the new site, so that relevant SEO authority can be passed. This will also help your customers find what they are looking for. Let me elaborate on this as this point can be a bit tricky. Let’s assume you are a lawyer and you offer a range of services. What a 301 redirect means is that the service page for say divorce law on the old site will redirect to the divorce law web page on the new site. This ensures that anyone who is looking for a divorce lawyer online and they come across your old web page, they will immediately be redirected to the new more relevant page.

301’s are a critical component of the new website launch and it MUST be handled by people who know what they are doing. If you stuff this part up, expect to loose serious Google rankings. This is 100% guaranteed.


Make Sure the New Titles and Descriptions are the Same

Without going into too much detail, your web titles and descriptions are what is displayed on Google on the search results. Your title is what Google reads and the description is there for your customers. If you are really happy with they way they are then make sure your new website has had these copied over. Alternatively, now would be the best time to revise these for a better customer experience and SEO ranking. A good tip here is too see what your competition has and learn from what the industry leader and top ranking sites are writing.


Is Your Hosting the Same?

Some web agencies will insist that you use their hosting servers. This is fine but make sure that you have the appropriate bandwidth to hand web traffic. In the case of some eCommerce sites, new hosting platforms may not be able to cope with the amount of traffic and this in turn will result in your site going down. In critical busy periods this is NOT on as it can result in lost revenues. PLUS excessive down times can result in ranking fluctuations which is not ideal for your business. So the rule of thumb here is to make sure your new website has a robust hosting platform, preferably in Australia that is going to be able to handle your traffic, and if there are any issues they are able to fix problems quickly.


What Size Images are there and how’s the overall Website Speed.

New websites equal new images and it’s important that all the images are optimised for site speed. There are a multitude of sites out there that can help you with this but we use the Google free site speed checker. Before your site goes live run this exercise and try to clean up any mess that Google picks up here. Remember slow websites with large images are really bad for SEO and will kill the customer experience. Personally, I hate it when sites takes forever to load so please what ever you do, don’t ignore this point.


Take off the ‘No Follow’ once site goes live.

I am still amazed by developers ( not ours thankfully) that leave the ‘no follow’ code on the new website. This code tells Google not to index your website. Can you imagine how you are going to feel after a few weeks when your new website is no being indexed by Google and you have lost all your rankings. It’s a bloody nightmare and all it takes is one simple slip up by your developers. Make sure this does not happen!


Where are your links going??

This will take time but you have to be certain that all the internal links within your site have been transferred over to the new site. If you are a keen blogger this may take a while so plan ahead and make sure that all links are active and don’t point to inactive URL’s.

Does Your New Website have a SiteMap?

No brainer and not much explanation needed here, except to say that a site map of your website should be in the footer. This will make it easier for Google to trawl, index and rank web pages, which is important for your marketing.

Have your Revised your Web Content?

Your website copy needs to be changed frequently. Appearing fresh and current with brand new copy is going to make a huge difference to the way your customers perceive you and the whole shopping or inquiry experience. Out dated copy in these competitive online times is JUST NOT ON, so put the effort in, get it written professionally. Think of it as an investment in your marketing. Web content that is conversion focused can mean the difference between making that sale or not.

Make sure all your Social Media Buttons are Clear and Visible.

Hidden social media icons buried somewhere on your new site is not a good way to promote your business. Your social media buttons need to be easily accessed for the consumer – don’t forget about this when launching your new website. Another component of your website that needs to be highlighted are you main calls to action or selling points. These include:

  • blog btton
  • easy to read phone number right at the top of the page
  • do you deliver Australia wide – then tell people about this!
  • Make an inquiry form visible and easy to use.
  • Any unique selling point you have high up above the fold on the home page


What NOT to do if your Website has been Penalised By Google

NEVER Try To SEO Your Website Out Of This Penalty

Many SEO companies who have little or no idea about SEO (probably cause they got you into this position to begin with) are going to say: ‘ignore this penalty and keep on back linking and doing what we have been doing in the past’. This is WRONG and certainly not what you should be doing. Like running with a broken bone, you don’t continue to run. You need to stop everything, diagnose the issue and try to repair it before you continue. A Google penalty is triggered because something is either non compliant on your website or there has been some non compliant activity happening behind the scenes. What needs to happen is to implement a complete website wide audit and diagnose any issues that could have caused this penalty. Moving forward, one needs to get into their WMT Google account and check for any correspondence. Google will tell you that your site has been penalised. After the audit has been completed you should have a clearer idea of the path needed to rectify the situation. Again, and I ill repeat what I have already stated. Ignoring the problem and continuing on your old SEO ways is the true recipe for a BAD OUTCOME.  You are in a penalty because you have done something wrong in your SEO efforts.

NEVER Continue to Build Back Links On A Penalized WebSite

It is insane the number of SEO agencies out there online saying that they are able to help you recover from a Google Penalty. They disguise these websites under the guise of Google Penalty Help or Panda Penalty Recovery or even Penguin Update Agency. These guys are out there and are happy to prey on poor businesses who have no idea about what’s happening or what they need to do. All they know is that they trusted their SEO company in the past and this is the end result. The spin, lies and utter bullshit that’s spun to businesses who have suffered the horror of a penalty is mind boggling. And it’s happening all the time.

One thing that you should NEVER EVER do is to trust any dodgy SEO company that is touting their penalty recovery services via Adwords or ads on other websites. This is a trap a con and is only going to make matters a hell of a lot worse.

All these guys are going to do is to continue link building, which is precisely the issue that got you penalised in the first place. Like rubbing and open wound, don’t expect it to heal.  These penalties require serious attention and action to mitigate any further damage. So, don’t fall victim to these scams and stay well away from businesses offering their help through ads. If they mention further link building, hang up the phone or delete the email. There are just too many SEO sharks out there to trust when it comes to helping you get out of this situation. PLUS please note – if you go into your webmaster tools they are going to tell you that there are far too many unnatural links, so why would anyone in their right mind continue to build more – simple doesn’t make sense.


Do Not Aggravate or Inflame the Situation – Be Best Buddies (and I know its hard) With The SEO Team That Got You Penalized

9 out of 10 penalties have been triggered or are the responsibility of some poor SEO work by your provider. The temptation I know is to read them the riot act and blast the hell out of them, but it is vital that you keep your cool, remain calm and take a steady even handed approach. Don’t get nasty with your SEO company as they may not want to help you. First things first and this is a real important point. GET THEM TO CEASE ALL SEO WORK. Email them, call them, but they have to stop link building. This is a priority and must happen the day you see the penalty. Because you are polite and have been cool headed in your approach to what could be a heated situation, these guys are more than likely going to want to be as helpful as possible. Make sure you also ask them to eliminate all links they have built for you and provide proof of this in a document. You will need this later on when you apply for a re inclusion request to Google. They will want to see that an effort has been made to get rid of these links. This is why the SEO team you have been using has to be on your side. Offensive, aggressive behaviour will only inflame the situation. You do need their help at this early stage so be very careful not to sully the relationship.

Do Not Email Google and File A Reconsideration Request on The First Day

Your request for reconsideration is what you email Google when you feel that you have done everything possible to correct the situation. It is essentially a compliance issue and any type of contact should only be made to Google if you are 100% confident that you have done everything in your power to be compliant. This includes getting rid of each and every back link created. This can and in most cases take a long time to accomplish, so whatever you do don’t rush right in and contact Google. Expect no mercy no matter how long your passionate email is. Even if this isn’t your fault, it won’t make the slightest difference. In the eyes of Google, you are wrong and to have that nasty penalty removed is going to be your responsibility. Constant emails to Google are also a fruitless exercise. Only be in touch with them once each and every dodgy over optimised back link has been terminated. This is not a quick process and it may take 2 weeks to a month in some cases for Google to get back to you with a reply.

Do Not Stay With the Same SEO Company

This may seem like a no brainer but it amazes me the amount of businesses who keep on coming back for more punishment. They will stay with the same seo company out of loyalty  (this is insane and I can't ever get my head around this). Once your SEO company has tried to get rid of the back links and done everything in their power to do this and proved this to you, then its time to part ways politely. I will add a caveat here. If your website has been penalised cause you have been hacked, then it’s not the fault of your current SEO team. Let them go on and disavow these links and manage the penalty process for you.

If on the other hand, it’s clearly the fault of the current team try to find an agency that is not going to get you into this situation again. This is harder than it looks BUT a good first port of call could be the SEO team here at Hopping Mad Designs.