Should You Use an Industry-Specific Website Designer

by Nick Nichols, Online Marketing Expert

On the surface it might seem like a good idea to hire a website designer that specializes in your industry, but there are some factors you might want to consider.

First, industry-specific website design companies tend to use the same templates for all their clients. Even though they can incorporate your colors and logo into a template, it may have the same look and feel as their other clients. Also, industry-specific website design companies tend to "shoe horn" similar descriptive text into multiple sites. This makes it hard for you to stand out from their other clients.

Second, unless the company offers some kind of local market exclusivity, they might be working with one or more of your competitors! In that case, who do they give their best work to? If they also do SEO, which client gets the best treatment? Who gets their best advice?

Third, in my 19+ years as an Internet marketing consultant I’ve found that many website designers have their roots as graphic artists or programmers. Many don’t have a strong marketing background.

As a result, many websites that may look visually appealing don’t index well in the search engines – so they don’t get found – and they lack a strong headline, have weak sales copy and a weak or non-existent offer – so they don’t convert visitors into buyers.

So instead of thinking "website designer," I recommend thinking "Internet marketing strategist." Instead of a website, think, "lead generation and sales conversion system." After all, isn’t that what you want your website to do… attract qualified prospects and help to convert them into long-term customers?

Whomever you choose, you might want to ask these three qualifying questions:

  1. What is the most important on-page SEO factor?
  2. How can I get my website to the top of the Google "local pack?" (The "balloon" listings that you see in most local search results.)
  3. Is there a way I can get more than one listing on the first page of search results quickly and cost-effectively?

The correct answers are:

  1. A properly optimized page title element (often misidentified as the page title tag) is the most important on-page SEO factor. My research shows that unfortunately, the page title element is not properly optimized on 86% of home pages.
  2. Getting to the top of the "local pack" is an ongoing process that requires a claimed, optimized Google+ local listing that is also externally validated and promoted. Claiming of a listing alone is not enough to get to and stay at the top.
  3. Yes. The fastest, most cost-effective way to get more than one first-page listing (over which you have total control of the content) is via short video clips. Surprisingly, this strategy is rarely used by local business owners.