Have you been looking at your website lately and wondering what on earth you were thinking when you first had it built? And now that the ‘redesign bug’ is in your mind, are you freaked out by the overwhelming choices and decisions required to get your new website online, looking pretty, and search engine friendly?

As my kids say – Relax, I got this.

Getting Started

The day you looked at your website and decided that it needed help was the day you realized that your competition was passing you by.  And no one wants that.  So let’s find out what you need to do from this point forward.  Let’s make a plan, execute, and (ultimately) profit.

The Design

Many business owners come to the decision that their site is old and out of date because they are active online, visiting other websites, and ultimately they end up comparing theirs to their competitors. That’s not a bad thing, it’s good.

You’re always going to have competition. What you need to do (and you already are) is to make sure you stay ahead of them. Visit their websites, see what they’re doing right and take notes.

Do a search for businesses in your industry that are in other states. See who is ranking at the top, visit their sites, and once again take notes on what you like and dislike. Write down the URLs of sites that really impress you, because you’ll want to pass these on to your designer.  Make sure you take note of colors you like, fonts and layouts that are pleasing to you.

The Designer

The next thing you’ve got to do is find a designer – and there are lots out there! I recommend you visit your local Chamber, talk to friends, or ask someone in the IT industry who they recommend.  Get their URLs and check them out.  Is their site SEO friendly?  Run a quick Website Grader on it to see how they rank.  Visit their portfolio and run similar tests on their clients.  How do they stack up?  How do their portfolio sites look? Are they all the same? Completely different?

Stay away from designers that offer templated websites. You’ll never rank well with them, because you’ll have the same code as many, many others. A custom design is the only way to go.  This also applies to offerings like GoDaddy Websites, Intuit, and many others.  Don’t get sucked into some easy to design scheme, you won’t be happy.

More Reading: Five SEO Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Designer


Today there’s no question that building a search engine friendly website is imperative for your business to succeed. This leads you to three choices when building your new website:

  1. Hire a designer that knows SEO.
    But don’t take his word for it – ask him the questions I mentioned above.  Most web designers don’t understand SEO.  Nor do they want to learn it.  They want to build you a website and hand it over.  This is just what I did (unknowingly) for seven years.
  2. Hire an SEO during the design phase.
    This option is recommended- if you have the budget.  Hiring an SEO expert to join in during the creation phase of the website can give you a nice advantage come launch day.  You’ll have a search-engine friendly website that can climb the rankings quicker.  The SEO will already know the ins and outs of your site, and will be able to help you get those conversions and calls-to-action right from the start.
  3. Hire an SEO after launch.
    This is what happens most often.  It either happens because simply of budget issues, or because the website owner just found out that they needed SEO.  Either way, it’s not a deal killer, but you’re definitely at a disadvantage.  Since your site is already launched, and the search engines are already indexing pages on your site, the things that you did wrong (from an SEO standpoint) will have to be re-done.  This can cause a serious lag time between when you fix them and when the search engine spiders come back to consume those updates.  Changed URLs and updated heading tags are just a few things that can cause problems.  And problems mean longer engagement of an SEO expert.

The most common scenario I come across is definitely number three.  While it’s not the best, in most cases it’s just the way it is.  Shake it off and keep pressing on.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to mention the content management system (CMS). This software allows you to make changes and updates to your website on the fly – taking away the need to rely on your designer for future updates and changes. Those days are long gone – and any designer who tells you that you’ll need to pay them for updates should be crossed off your list.

The most common CMS’s are WordPress, Joomla and Adobe Catalyst.  If you’re building a shopping cart, you should check out Magento and osCommerce.  If your designer tells you he wants to hand-code your website from scratch, he better have a really good reason.  Really good.

The Decision

Once you’ve decided which way to go, have fun with it.  Be specific up front with what you want and what you don’t want.  If you haven’t signed up for a newsletter service, I recommend doing so.  aWeber is what I use.

Your designer should contact you within a week or two with a mock-up of your new site.  You’ll probably get a home page preview and an internal page preview. Go over them carefully, take notes about changes, but understand that major changes may incur additional costs.

Consider your SEO options (listed above) and you’re on your way to a new site!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.