How to Evaluate a Web Company’s Abilities
Design & Development | SEO
One of the most significant hurdles in redesigning a new website is selecting a web developer to partner with. The number of results an online search can bring may lead you to think it can be an overwhelming task. After all, you don’t want to just pick any web developer; you want to partner with the web developer that’s the right fit for your business, can help you achieve your goals, and utilizes the latest tools in web development and digital marketing.
Unquestionably, choosing a web development company isn’t a decision to take lightly. Oftentimes, your website facilitates that first impression between you and your customer, and a poorly designed website is all that customer needs to click away in a second. Your website is a significant investment in your business. A great website will generate a high return on investment, but a bad website will result in a stagnant business.
Evaluating your potential web partners is a critical step in your interviewing process, so you’ll want to do your due diligence when it comes to your own research. When the agency offers their portfolio (any respectable website developer will) take it upon yourself to dive into the details and determine if website best practices are truly being utilized.
Title Tag and Meta Description
A simple way to begin your investigation is to Google a business name that your prospective web developer lists in their portfolio. A title tag is the clickable headline at the top of the result that specifies the title of a web page. It’s meant to be a unique and an accurate description of the content on the page.
The meta description is displayed under the title tag, and is meant to be used as a brief summary of the web page that entices the user to click on the web page. A search engine that lists a web page without a meta description in the results will simply pull the first content at the top of the page as a filler.
Pro tip: Investigate a web page’s title tag even further by clicking on to the website and hovering over the tab. A truly optimized title tag will include relevant keywords, rather than simply the name of the page. To be clear, it’s not an opportunity to list or repeat keywords in hopes of ranking higher.
While you are on the website of the business your web agency listed in their portfolio, look for that visual element of security at the top. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is now the standard technology for keeping internet connection secure when you’re on a website and safeguards any sensitive data that is sent between users and businesses, including login information, names or addresses, and credit card information. When a website is secured by an SSL certificate, HTTPS (or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) will appear in the url, along with a lock symbol.
Note: An SSL that is not installed properly will show an error symbol on the lock.
Is an SSL certificate really necessary? Yes! Google will favor websites that are in users’ best interest and keep them safe from hacking. Not only will a “Not Secure” tag affect your ranking search results, but could send more than half of your website visitors away. Users take their web security seriously, and in some cases organizations may have unsecure web pages blocked by their firewall.
A well-crafted URL provides users and search engines an indication of what kind of content will be on the destination page. URLs should be simple, compelling, and relevant in order for users and search engines to understand them.
For best readability, by both users and search engines, look for these URL best practices:
- Hyphens are used to separate words, rather than underscores, or other characters
- URLs only consist of lowercase letters (For example, some search engines will index topfloortech.com/events and topfloortech.com/Events as two distinct URLs and can create issues with being viewed as duplicate content.)
- URL includes an appropriate amount of keywords
When it comes to your website, every second counts. 40% of desktop users (and 53% of mobile users) will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Just imagine the impact this could have on your conversions. On top of this, Google’s algorithm looks at page speed when ranking web pages. How can you test if your prospective web company considers page speed in their design? Google offers a great and free tool called PageSpeed Insights. It allows you to enter a web page URL and will determine the page speed of both the desktop and mobile version of the site. Here at Top Floor, we also like to utilize GTmetrix, a free tool that will score a website’s page speed as well as break down the details of the score. Try one, or both, of these tools on a previous client of the web company you are considering.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of Google’s mobile-first indexing. Google looks at a mobile version of a website as a starting point for what Google includes in its index. Mobile optimization is not only key to ranking on the search engines, but also to happy users visiting your website.
As your own test, browse one of your prospective web company’s portfolio websites on your mobile phone and, as a user, determine if you have a positive user experience. Does the navigation bar at the top look normal? Are the buttons usable? Does there appear to be the same content available to you on mobile as there is on desktop? Most importantly, is the page responsive?
Digital trends are continually evolving. Even tech-savvy individuals find it challenging to keep up with the latest in SEO. We strongly recommend that your team reviews the capabilities, case studies, and portfolios of any website company you are considering partnering with. Your investment deserves a knowledgeable partner that will see the work through to the end.
At Top Floor, our commitment to quality reflects in every line of code we write. SEO isn’t just another bullet point on a list of our services offerings, it’s the core of our business. Reach out with any questions. We’d be happy to show you our capabilities, and help you improve yours. Let’s make something awesome together!