I’m aware of the psychology that goes behind the saying ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ but I would be remiss to not inform you about something that has become ever more apparent: most web developers out there know nothing about Google and search engine optimisation (SEO).
So before you ask the question, let me start by saying that I’ve been involved with web design and development for the last seven years. (By involved, I mean that I’ve given birth to websites that were beasts and nearly tore me and the company to shreds.) So I kind of know what I’m talking about.
No self respecting web developer will admit that they are not totally au fait with SEO. The good ones will do a bit of research and ask their dev friends for advice. The lazy ones will wing it and you will bear the cost in lost rankings or a site that is penalised by Google. If you ask them about it, they will assure you that the website they are about to code or migrate is Google-compliant and won’t jeopardise Google rankings whatsoever. Unfortunately, you can’t ask someone, ‘Have you read the Google webmaster guidelines?’ They’re obviously going to reply ‘yes’ and you’ll get nowhere. All you can do is cross your fingers and hope for the best.
I’ve picked up a few things in my short life, and here they are for your benefit:
Here are the 5 things I would do before signing the quote:
1. Get an external SEO consultant, like us, to question the agency or freelancer.
Unfortunately, most developers can shroud meaning behind technical jargon and confuse the pants off any non-technical client.
The best thing to do it take another SEO developer with you- one who doesn’t have a vested interest or hidden agenda and can be completely honest with you and with the developer.
2. Prepare a list of technical questions before hand.
Nothing open ended and no leading questions. You’ll have to have your SEO consultant review the answers (get them in writing), as once again, your agency might try to pull smoke and mirrors over your eyes, to mix my metaphors.
3. Find out which sites they’ve developed and have your SEO consultant review them.
He’ll check the code, the on page SEO, links, titles, alt text, images, deep linking, content, page names, micro tags and more.
4. Check if any page they’ve coded ranks on page one of Google (in the relevant country)
They should rank for any key search term related to one or more sites they’ve developed. Don’t search for the website’s brand name, but for the key search terms related to the industry they’re in.
The agency might tell you their clients rank on page one, so ask them ‘for which search terms’ and evaluate from there.
5. Include penalty clauses into your contract
This should ensure that you get money back if rankings are lost or SEO is not implemented to specification. Unfortunately you need all these things in writing to cover your back if your web developer lets you down.
And don’t pay everything up front, because I guarantee you, you won’t get any of it back!
Founder and CEO of Shift ONE
Dylan Kohlstadt’s Blog : What if your web developer knows nothing about Google SEO