keep-calm-and-just-say-noToday’s article comes from my “what in the heck were they thinking file”. Being a passionate champion for small businesses, it makes me furious when I see large companies offering website design services with the inferred idea that it will generate tons of traffic. Here is an example what I mean.

I recently met with a potentially new client about doing some search engine optimization (SEO) on their local Tucson business website. They had paid a large company whose name you would know if I mentioned it, to create their website. In addition, they also paid them for a monthly SEO package designed to improve their search rankings. What prompted their call was the fact that they were NOWHERE to be found in a search for a keyword phrase that had very little competition. As I reviewed the site, I noticed several things. First of all, the site was built using the company’s website builder program, which the business owners could have done themselves.  I would have assumed an “expert” paid to build the site could have used something more sophisticated than a template builder program.

The second thing that stood out was the first occurrence of any of their keyword phrases in the HTML code. The homepage had about 250 lines of code and the first time any of their content appeared was on line 207. Google looks at that and says, “if we have to crawl three fourths of the way through this site before finding what it’s about, then it’s not a “real” site that we should consider.”  Which means there’s a pretty good chance this site will never show up in any search.

The third thing I found as I looked at the HTML code for the images was they were missing keyword tags, which is a very basic element of SEO.  Now that would be understandable if the customer had built it themselves, but to have paid extra for the “experts” SEO package is ridiculous. It’s almost like stealing.

Being a small business owner, I absolutely understand the budget constraints and the need to create a web presence as inexpensively as possible. The prospects of a “free” or next to nothing priced website is very attractive. And that’s fine for a business that needs a portfolio type of site that they will hand to prospective customers. But if lead generation and getting found in the search engines is an important consideration, these sites won’t do.

There are alternatives that are affordable. WordPress is a perfect example of an easy to use, but very search engine friendly website builder program. It’s available on most of the large hosting companies for free and there are hundreds of templates to choose from to create a nice layout.

So before you get suckered into the commercials that are rampant today, stopped and analyze what you really want your website to accomplish. Then interview several website designers to see what your options are. Should you decide to go with WordPress, my Ninja Marketing Dojo has a complete tutorial on how to use WordPress.

Realize that the return on a zero investment is still likely to be zero, whereas investing a little money in a good website can easily pay for itself with just a few new customers.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo. The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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