Warning: This post is a bit of an angry rant against all the crappy web designers and optimizers who make my life harder.
Unfortunately, web design as an industry (along with search engine optimization, also known as SEO) has given itself a tarnished reputation. I would say that at least ¼ of our web design & internet marketing clients have had a bad experience with a web designer, or even with a small web design company.
That’s because a LOT of web designers and SEO companies are (pardon my French) bullshitters, although most of the lies are centered around SEO.
Here’s some common lies, white lies, and exaggerations that I’ve heard from my clients’ stories:
1. Your Site Will Rank Well On Google
This is like a car salesman who can guarantee that you won’t get into an accident.
Really? No matter which method of SEO is used, no one can guarantee results in SEO. You don’t know what your competitors are doing with their sites. You can make informed decisions and help your ranking, but no one can guarantee it.
I can’t even count the amount of “optimized” websites I’ve been asked to fix. This is definitely the most common lie I’ve heard of. Ask them for a client list, the keywords they are supposed to rank for, and check their rankings yourself.
2. I Develop All Of The Code Myself
I once had a client who told me how when he changed hosts and lost all his files he couldn’t get a hold of his files from his web designer. Why? The designer admitted that she had paid someone in Bangladesh to build the site and couldn’t get the files from him.
Get a copy of your files (and your database backup if applicable) on a disk before you hand over the final payment!
3. The Code Will Validate
So what? Validation is way overrated. In fact, it’s SO overrated that I’m not even going to explain what it means.
4. I Will Include X Amount of Links
Again so what? SEO companies and web designers often use foreign services to buy links in bulk. The links are rarely of high quality, and therefore useless to you (and your ranking). In fact, if they submit your site to the wrong sites it could hurt your rankings.
5. You Just Need Some Meta Tag Optimization
Meta tags (while important, and excluding the title tag) don’t actually have a significant impact on your rankings. Meta keyword tags are slowly becoming more and more irrelevant, and meta description tags are more important for click-throughs that actual rankings.
Bottom line, meta tags aren’t the answer to your search engine ranking woes any more.
6. All Of the Above Techniques Will Result in More Traffic
This doesn’t necessarily qualify as a lie, but to me it’s the biggest sign of an incompetent designer or optimizer. It shows that they don’t understand the purpose of a website.
While traffic and exposure is nice, I’m pretty sure the metric you really care about (whether you know it or not) is conversions. You want you site to bring you business, not bring you freeloaders.
7. You’ll See Results Quickly (And/Or Cheaply)
Whether you’re starting from scratch or optimizing an existing site, it’s going to be a while before you see any real results from an SEO campaign. It’s gonna be months and cost a LOT (in time or money) to see any real movement in your rankings.
Any designer/optimizer that promises you quick results or offers you a price that seems too good to be true is likely just trying to make a quick buck.
I’m sure I could come up with a bunch more from all the designers and optimizers that I’ve interviewed over the past few years, but this is a great start for most of you.
What lies have you heard from designers/optimizers? Tell us in the comments.