After spending tens of thousands of dollars building my third website with a ‘top’ web designer and being unhappy with the results, I finally took the time to study SEO and website optimization. I read several books on search engine optimization, including The Art of SEO (by Stephen Spencer and team) to understand the basics, then I took advanced SEO training courses and spent several months learning what really makes a website rank- and what you can do to design (or should I say ‘re-design’) your website so it does what you intended it to do in the first place; attract visitors who want what you have to offer- organically- without paying for every click.

Beware: Expensive web designers don’t use best practices

Just because you overpaid for your website doesn’t guarantee you will have your search engine optimization needs met. I was horrified to learn in hindsight that our expensive web development team didn’t even know what ‘seo in Houston best practices’ meant, although they said the site would be built with best practices in their quote. There are certain key things you should beware of when hiring a web developer, and let me save you some money right upfront- if your web developer says he/she doesn’t write content, this person has no clue about SEO. Many web designers ask YOU to provide the content, and feel their job is to post it for you and make it ‘look pretty.’ If that’s the case, your site will not rank for the keywords you’re hoping to rank for.

It’s not their fault- it’s yours

It’s their job to get your site posted and done quickly and cost effectively; this is how web developers earn money; the more sites that get finished and posted each month, the more money they earn. They are essentially ‘coding people’ who understand how to post web pages and would prefer not to spend all the hours it would take to do all the keyword research, page mapping and internal link designing you need to do in advance of building your site in order to rank for the keywords and phrases you want to rank for. And honestly, it might not be all their fault. You were probably looking to save money when building your site and if the developer quoted you for the SEO work you needed in addition to the work he had to do to build your site, you’d probably reject his estimate and find someone else to do it cheaper. (Not all web designers fit this description, so don’t get offended if you’re a web developer who builds search-friendly websites).

Decide on your keywords in advance

If you want qualified traffic for your site, do your research in advance and understand which terms you are trying to rank for. Pick no more than 2-3 per page and write your content around those keywords. Be sure to check your competitors before jumping in and make sure the words you want to rank for don’t have so much competition that you don’t really have a chance; find keywords and phrases that are realistic and go for those. Evaluate the number of links your competitors have as well. Although there is no such thing as the perfect webpage or web site, that doesn’t matter. You just have to be better than your competitor.

It’s like the story of the two guys in the woods who hear a bear coming- one guy starts putting on his sneakers and his friend says, “You’ll never outrun the bear!” The guy putting on his sneakers says calmly, “I don’t have to… I just have to outrun you.”

Outrank your competitors

Remember, you don’t need to be perfect; you just need to outrank your competitor.