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We've been doing pretty well without any web presence other than FB but I need to get a site up.

For those of you that have been through the process if you could share through your experience what the Top 5 Questions you asked (or should have) that helped get you the result you desired I think that'd help quite a few guys in the same position as myself.

Along with your questions if you have a company/guy you'd recommend that would be great.

On a side note I was approached by www.Mopro.com and an expo. Anyone have any thoughts or experience with them?

Here are a few sites they've done...

www.baycitiesconstructionservices.com*
www.ghremodelandsolar.com
www.kccconcretekansas.com
www.mississipiriverventure.com
www.statemachineryco.com
www.capitolpaintandconstructionca.com
http://www.donegeneralcontractors.com/home*
http://www.diywithprohelp.com/home
http://www.nvcustomcleaning.com/home
 

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I briefly looked over the sites that would load and while they are nice sites they are not designed for conversions and have no on page built in.

Infinite scrolling sites are all the rage right now buy I really dont like many of them as they seem to give little tid bits of info along the way and in the end actually say nothing.

I would keep looking, they wont make you the money you want.
 

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I went to their site and they have a nice angle with their video creation service. Although I suspect its one video or 1 per year that is still a nice touch. Problem is they think a couple videos will translate into ranking on the internet. Some people think social media does the same thing, and in both cases they totally neglect the on page which is numero uno for ranking. Nothing matters until this is done correctly.

If they could get a grip on the on page, add more content, increase the size of the websites to 30-80 pages then they would have a nice service as long as they would continue to build out the youtube chanel for you with photos and send their film crew out once a year, or for $200 bucks once a year or something.

Its basicly a $2500-3500 website but your paying 300 a month for it. It needs supplementation to make that worth while otherwise just write the check for 2500 and call it a day.
 

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Top 5 Questions you asked (or should have)
How many pages should my website have?

How do you take care of on-page SEO?

How do you take care of local off-page SEO?

How else will my website get found?

Can you speak to some previous clients?

Call them and ask all the questions you like.

Talk to a few different companies (on the phone) and it will become readily apparent who knows what they are talking about vs. who is selling you something they don't even really understand.
 
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Top 5 questions would be something like

1: How many unique visits per day,month on average do your websites bring in
2: How many leads per year on average do your websites bring in
3: How do you do your seo? (this will have a few subsections)
4: How is the site hosted
5: Can I buy the site outright, do I own the domain, do I own the seo you do for me when I cancel, is it in writing.
6: How are updates handled
7: Is the site backed up weekly
8: What is your web marketing experience
9: references to call
 

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The web site for GH Construction uses stock images from ShutterStock.com, that don't have anything to do with the company. In my book that's dishonest.
 

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The Mississippi River Venture web site, in addition to having some typos, purports to be for a sand quarry. The appointment booking page allows you to book a complete move or a corporate relocation (for $200!), or to book an appointment for some mystery service that includes a stylist. Something's messed up, and I'd guess it's the claim that it's a web site for a real company.
 

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Only 5 questions? Why not "turn it up to 11"?

Here's a piece I wrote that addresses that very thing:

11 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

1. Will I be able to make changes to my site?

The days of static websites, controlled by the webmaster, have come and gone. Hopefully, there will come a time when your time is way too valuable to worry about website updates. In the meantime, you need to be able to handle changes to the site yourself. Make sure your web designer/developer (D/D) is using a tool that allows you access.

2. How will you grab site visitors within 9 seconds?

Sadly, 9 seconds is all the time you have to make a solid first impression. If your D/D doesn't know how to create a compelling experience in those 9 seconds, you've just lost a sale.

3. Will my site be optimized for search engines? How?

It's absolutely critical that your site shows up in local search for the business or trade you're in. If it doesn't, what's the point? What tools will your D/D install on your site to ensure a solid SEO strategy?

4. Will you design a call to action?

Websites used to be little more than online brochures. No longer. A website should be an interactive experience, compelling visitors to take whatever action has been designed into the site's strategy and architecture.

5. Will my site be mobile friendly?

Roughly half of all searches are now happening on smartphones and tablets. If your site isn't cross-platform-friendly, you're losing half of your potential customers.

6. Can you setup an “auto-responder”?

Have you seen a website that offers a digital download (such as a free e-book or white paper) in exchange for your email address? They're using an auto-responder. It's a means of turning site visitors into relationships and it's a perennially valuable technique for growing your business. If your D/D doesn't know how to set one up for you, you'll lose money. It's as simple as that.

7. Do you understand the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of my business?

If your D/D doesn't know what makes your business special to your customers, they can't very well sell it, can they? And if YOU don't know, they should be able to help you figure it out.

8. Do you understand my demographic?

If your customers are teenage skateboarders, they need to be reached via mobile and social. If they're retirees, you need to reach out to them via content marketing and organic search. If your D/D has a one-size-fits-all approach to lead generation, you're going to miss a lot of leads.


9. Will you install tracking software on my website?

If you can't determine who is getting to your website, and how they're getting there, then you won't know how to get more of them to come. If your D/D isn't installing an analytics program, they might as well be designing you a brochure.

10. Can you scale my site with my business?

Websites are dynamic beasts. You can get into a basic site as your budget allows and then, as your business expands, you can expand your site. There are some tools that make that easy and some that make it incredibly challenging. Which one would you prefer?

11. How do you market your own biz?

This might be a bit of a trick question but, seriously, have you noticed that marketing companies often don't market their businesses? If they aren't using the techniques and tools, why are they suggesting them to you?
 

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@HandyFeller you missed one of the most important questions of all:

Do I own my site?

JBM said it: 5: Can I buy the site outright, do I own the domain, do I own the seo you do for me when I cancel, is it in writing.

That, in my opinion, is very important.
 

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Do I own my site?
This should be a given. Your website should be an appreciating asset for your company.

Owning the "SEO" is a little different and would depend on what was done or usually not done. You should at least always have control/access to your local citations, analytics, webmaster tools and any other business listings.

Some aspects of off-page SEO are going to be hard to own and may be in the control of other parties. These messes can be tough to clean up.
 

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@HandyFeller you missed one of the most important questions of all:

Do I own my site?
Good point. I wrote the piece a few years ago when site leasing wasn't really a thing. I should add it. But then I'll have to drop another because I'm stupidly fond of quoting Spinal Tap.
 

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These are all very good so far. But one thing hasn't been brought out that I think is equally important. How many questions is your web designer asking you?

Many of the items on these lists are questions and issues the potential web designer should be bringing up first so you don't have to. If they are not asking these questions they will not be able to help you. In fact, you should be able to tell more about them by letting them ask questions first and reserve your questions for when they have demonstrated a focus on reaching your customers with the finished site.

Although Carl Donovan's #1 item has merit I would challenge it as being a requirement or even beneficial. I'm pretty sure most contractors would be very apprehensive if you're dealing with a HO who wants to do part of a project themselves yet wants you to bare full responsibility for the work. Although there are exceptions, the owner of the site is generally least qualified to add content. You are on the inside looking out and it's very difficult to be objective and create content that resonates with the position of your customer.

If I hire you for a home improvement project it's because I want your expertise and know you'll do a much better job than I ever could. If your web person is really worth their mettle, you should provide everything they ask for then stay out of their way and let them create a money making web site. Most contractors will enthusiastically agree with Carl's #1 item, which is why the web person who can help you the most won't be willing to work for you.

To be honest, if the list was 10 items with Lee's suggestion added as the 11th, I'd call that good. Item #1 has the potential to cancel all the others out. To take my analogy one step further, it could be like me the HO providing a box full of Lowes plumbing supplies and telling you to use it in my bathroom and expecting the same quality of results as if you had chosen the materials.
 

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Hmmmmm. I think an analogy that supports my point can be built out of your last one, CBS. If my plumber installs a toilet for me and I break the seat, will I have to pay him to replace the seat or will I be able to do it myself?

To bring it back to the real world, if I finish a gorgeous new job and I want to put it on my site, can I easily do that or do I need the developer to take care of that for me?

It is assumed that the body copy is already in place and doing the selling. Are you suggesting that contractors shouldn't be encouraged to add their own content?
 

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Carl, I would never pretend that a case cannot be made for both sides, so it really comes down to the individual contractor, situation, and goals. Realize too that my business model is designed for business owners who want to run their own business instead of their site. They trust my expertise and receive a comprehensive service package. DIY clients, control freaks, and those content to endure the learning curve of effective web principles neither want nor need this level of service.

HandyFeller said:
To bring it back to the real world, if I finish a gorgeous new job and I want to put it on my site, can I easily do that or do I need the developer to take care of that for me?

It is assumed that the body copy is already in place and doing the selling. Are you suggesting that contractors shouldn't be encouraged to add their own content?
Let me answer these questions based on both years of experience and observations made here on CT.

The first one is maybe. Some contractors will have great images, know how to size and optimize them for the web, know how to name their files and how to structure alt text and title attributes, etc. Most won't. Using the DIY approach could sacrifice the benefit a qualified web person will provide.

On the second question, look at all the DIY content on contractor sites. Look at all the posts here from members wondering why their sites are not performing well. Some contractors do exceptionally well adding their own content, but they are the exception rather than the rule. For most, I am very much saying, blatantly, that most contractors should be encouraged not to add their own content.

That's not intended to be a dig. I have above average skill where I can do some of my own home projects. Even though I can, doesn't always mean I should. And for sure, I would never, ever attempt to do something like tiling my bathroom. I recognize my limits. And I've seen countless examples here and all over the web of contractors who are hurting themselves by not recognizing theirs.

This post wouldn't be complete without stressing the importance of continuity within a web site. It's really easy to break that continuity. Just like the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth," if there isn't clear communication between a web designer and the client, continuity suffers. Users of your web site need to have a consistent experience throughout the site. Any breakdown reduces effectiveness. If the motivation of the contractor to add their own content is for the purpose of saving money, that breakdown is all but guaranteed.

There are ways for contractors to contribute that are better than risking cohesive breakdown. In your example of the gorgeous project, adding the photos and descriptions to Flickr is more beneficial. The Flickr should link to the site and the site can easily use a Flickr feed that updates in real time. If the contractor has decent writing skill and knows how to optimize images, they can operate their own blog. I say that one reluctantly though because many of the contractor blogs I've seen are written by contractors who only think they are good writers. In fairness though, some contractors are very gifted writers and my answers to those contractors would be very different from what I am posting here.

I know this post is getting long, but after so many years of doing this and rewriting client supplied drafts, the #1 thing I have to filter out is the anger that the writers never consciously realized they were incorporating. This is not just contractors either. Every industry has hacks, and the natural tendency is to create undertones of why those hacks are so bad instead of just stating your benefits and doing so in a compelling way. If I just put in content the way it was provided to me, that alone provides compelling reasons to maintain my assertion that clients should not be creating their own content. Unload on me all you want, I learn a lot from it and I learn a lot reading about contractor frustrations here. But the presentation on your web site had better be devoid of any negativity or you will suffer for it.
 

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This should be a given. Your website should be an appreciating asset for your company.

Owning the "SEO" is a little different and would depend on what was done or usually not done. You should at least always have control/access to your local citations, analytics, webmaster tools and any other business listings.

Some aspects of off-page SEO are going to be hard to own and may be in the control of other parties. These messes can be tough to clean up.
I was kind of alluding to how some firms will build links for a client on their own network of sites but when they leave they go back and remove all the links. that crap is shady and most anyone wouldnt even know why their rankings drop. "sign back up with us and we can fix your rankings..."
 

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I was kind of alluding to how some firms will build links for a client on their own network of sites but when they leave they go back and remove all the links.
If it's not disclosed I think it's shady because like you say, the client doesn't know what happened and likely won't have a web guy that can figure it out. However, should said firm spend the time/money to develop web properties they can backlink from (quality properties) then it should be explained how it helps and what the benefits are because controlling ones own backlinks is a solid long-term strategy. This is a strategy you need someone experienced and knowledgeable to pull off though.
 
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