High quality small business websites have always been a catch as catch can kind of proposition. Back in the day everyone pretty much built their own basic HTML sites (the 90’s) and from those humble beginnings there have grown many options such as drag n drop site builders supplied by many hosting companies (and some stand alone companies), professional web designers (costs money, sometimes a lot of money) and good old DIY.
The problem with all of the “affordable” choices available today is that most of them still do not give you much. I do not mean to denigrate the efforts of the drag and drop site builder engineers or those of the purveyors of the many other cheap or free business website options out there. Many of them have done a decent job and you end up with a pretty looking website.
In the end though they design something that they can afford to give away as an enticement to get you to spend money later. To some extent you do get what you pay for on the web just like in the real world and just like in the real world there are plenty of fraudsters and disingenuous people on the web just waiting to take as much of your money as they can in return for as little work as possible. That is just life.
Most small business owners are not web gurus. So how can they impartially evaluate websites and determine which are of good quality and then how do you know what is a “good” price for a website or SEO services? Read on…
What Makes A High Quality Website?
A high quality website goes far beyond looks. Looks and user experience are very important but a lot of the things that make for a high quality website are things you do not see as a site visitor and maybe not even as a site owner. These invisible elements care some of the most important though in terms of search engine position. A low quality site will almost never be able to rank well.
I always tell people who are shopping for a web designer or SEO services to look first at the sites of the people who want you to hire them (or their clients). If they cannot do a good job for themselves how will they be able to do a good job for you? In order to take away uncertainty due to the average person’s lack of expertise on what makes a high quality website here is a little collection of tools which will assist you in evaluating the work of a prospective employee.
The web evolves every day. Rules change and are replaced. The theory of best practice from a year ago is not the same as the current theory. Because of that using these tools to evaluate websites is very handy because the tools (for the most part) keep up with the changing web and will show you results based on current standards. I invite you to test this website with the tools below because we are proud of our high quality web designs.
- Google PageSpeed Test: Google Pagespeed is pretty much the definitive word on how well your site is put together from the perspective of the Google Search Engine. Since Google still controls nearly 70% of the searches on the web measuring up to Google standards should be a given.
- Google Mobile Friendly Test: This test is pretty basic. It only evaluates one page at a time (yes they may not all be mobile friendly) and it does not really give you the whole story on your mobile presence. However, since mobile traffic makes up so much of what is happening on the web now Google has made it a part of their criteria for determining search ranking on mobile devices.
- Google Structured Data Test: Structured Data consists of meta tags that help search engines learn more about your business and to make sure that they have the correct data. I hear a lot of people discount Structured Data as being unnecessary but that is far from true. Google uses over 300 criteria when evaluating each possible result for a search query and it is not very smart to say any one of them is “not that important” if you want your business website to rank well.
- Pingdom Tools Speed Test: Pingdom tools is a pretty accepted test to evaluate the loading speed of your website. Loading speed is very important as people (including you and me) get tired of waiting for slow sites to load and we move on. Google knows this and so loading speed is still an important ranking factor, This is the result for our site loading from San Jose CA today. Just over half a second. This is a WordPress website on a basic VPS hosting plan at Bluehost not a fancy/expensive specialized WordPress hosting provider. Around half a second loading time is pretty awesome. This is especially important on mobile devices and Google’s awareness of this is evident from their recent support of the AMP platform for mobile websites. Click on the picture to the right and look at what it says in yellow under the white results pane; “Your website is faster than 95% of all tested websites.” Don’t you want it to say that when you test your website?
- WooRank Website Evaluation: WooRank is a very handy tool to evaluate, not just on site SEO but also things like backlinks, traffic and social networks. I am a Certified WooRank Expert so when you evaluate your site you may see me appear as a source of further help. I will not go into all of the things that WooRank analyzes here as I have already done this in another post. If your website scores around 50% out of 100% on WooRank it is average. Right now my site is at 76.4, it was as high as 84% before I changed my domain name. Very few sites score that high on WooRank.
What is An Affordable Price For A Business Website?
Determining what you should pay for a business website is not as easy as it sounds unless you know what you are looking for. I did a little bit of a cost comparison among web designers of various size and the image below is a screen shot of the resulting Excel file. I tried to get estimates based on a fully optimized site nd as you see the prices vary wildly for a 20 page site. The funny thing is that you are getting nothing different for the $10,000 or even $20,000 sites that you are getting from me for $2,000. In fact, my sites usually perform better right out of the box. That is because they are built to conform to Google best practices from the start not as an afterthought.
My philosophy is simple, I have spent the last several years assembling all the components I need to be able to build a high quality website that measures up to the tests listed above. This enables me to create great websites fairly quickly and this justifies our low cost and still allows me to make enough to pay employees a living wage. I want to be the affordable, one stop web shop for small businesses. Google is putting a lot of effort into reaching small businesses at this time and I am a part of that both through this business and as an Google SMall Business Advisor and Google Adwords Partner.
As Search Engine Optimization continues to evolve it becomes more and more important to have your website conform to all of the standards that the search engines look for in evaluating websites. The competition is intense and will only get worse as time passes. I like to think that the site building standards are clear enough to understand and simple enough to implement that every website could conform to them now. Of course then all websites would essentially be the same and one would need other ways of determining quality.
What happens once you have your high quality website built? Is that all you have to do? Not usually, unless maybe you are in a small town with little competition for what you do. For most businesses though you will need to do more to rise above the competition on a regular basis. One of the most important things to do is to create new, original content for your website on a regular basis and then distribute it online and among your social network. We also handle content creation and distribution for businesses. Check out or pricing here.
In closing, I think that I have created the best performing WordPress setup for WordPress websites and I hope that you do take the time to shop around before buying a new website or SEO work or even a Content Manager. You deserve the best you can get for your money!