How to protect yourself from bad web designer practices.

I have recently been contacted by several people who are experiencing bad web designer practices.  These unknowing people hired someone to design a website for them and assumed they would have control over it.

There are some local SEO companies who have become very aggressive in their sales tactics.  They are offering websites at very low prices in an effort to make a killing on SEO once you have your website.   These less than ethical companies are portraying themselves as website designers, but the reality is that they make their living doing SEO (search engine optimization).  They look at it as an “upsell”.  I look at it as bad web designer practices.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with SEO.  It has its place, although I believe that for the most part, they overcharge and under deliver. What is happening is that these self proclaimed web designers are most likely outsourcing the website design to India.

Once the website is built, they send the client the WordPress login and give no help as far as how to actually update the website.  Once the client decides to make a change, they can log in, but without any help or training it’s all Greek to them.

This is the typical scenario that I am hearing:

  • After the website is built, the Web/SEO company keeps pushing to set up appointments to discuss their SEO plan, but is unresponsive to any help with the actual website.
  • They never actually say they are not in the business of designing websites.  That’s just a way to get their foot in the door.
  • The websites are very low priced, but the SEO will cost from $300 to $1,000 each month.  They will make a Facebook Fan page, a Google Plus account, run some ads and enjoy spending the money.

All of this is not as bad as the fact that they do not give the client an Admin login to their own website.  The client can log in, but doesn’t know enough to realize they don’t have administrative rights to their own website.  They are given an Editor login, which gives them limited access.  You may not know what this is, but basically they are locking the client out of the ability to do anything but edit the pages already created.  They can’t install or access plugins, or backup their own website.

This also prevents the website from being taken over by anyone else because without the ability to install a backup plugin, the site can’t be moved.  Are they doing this deliberately to keep their clients from escaping the SEO hounding?  I can’t answer that question for sure, but I have my suspicions. Can they do this legally?  The answer to that is probably, yes.  Is it ethical?  Absolutely not!

Be aware that there are a lot of less than ethical people out there.  I won’t call them web designers, because they are not.

My advice to anyone who is having a website designed by anyone (including me):

  • Buy your own domain name.  Your domain name gives you legal ownership of your website.
  • Ask them if they will give you access to the Hosting Control Panel – the answer should be yes.
  • Ask them if they will give you an Admin Login to your website – again, if the answer isn’t yes, look elsewhere.
  • Do a search for “theircityname web design”, and see where they are ranking.  If they are portraying themselves as a website design company and are not at the top of page one, they aren’t so good at SEO, are they?
  • Check out their ratings on Yelp, Merchants Circle and anywhere else you can think of.  If they aren’t there, they probably just changed their name and or web address to get a fresh start from bad reviews.  If they have been in business for a long time, there should be many records of them.
  • Check out their portfolio.  If there are photos of websites, but no actual links to websites, that’s a bad sign.
  • Call a couple of their clients and ask about the kind of service they receive from the designer.

The bottom line is, if you are a local business, servicing a geographical area (like Sacramento) you shouldn’t need to hire someone for your SEO. On page SEO (if done correctly) can get you ranked high.  The last time I checked, I came up number one on page one of Google for the search term “Sacramento web design”.   They come up quite a bit lower than number one.

I rest my case…