by Amara Young

Finding a quality web developer is crucial for your business. Often your website is the face of your company – the first thing users see when they are searching for your goods or services. We know it can be difficult to find a web developer that you can trust with your project, so we compiled a list of questions you can ask to ensure you are working with a developer who will not only execute your design flawlessly but will also take steps to provide you with an SEO friendly website.

1. When redesigning a website, do you transfer over existing title tags, meta descriptions, image tags, blogs, etc.? 

This question is incredibly important. If you’ve paid someone to optimize your website, and your developer doesn’t transfer over all that hard work, your rankings will suffer. Likewise, blogs can generate traffic long after they were posted, you don’t want to lose any of that valuable content!

2. If the developer will be adding new content to your website: Will you provide me with detailed keyword research? 

When web developers first started in SEO, the rules were a little different. The more pages you have, the more links, the more keywords-all of those things were incredibly important. Today SEO is so much more than that, and having too many keywords on a page, called “keyword stuffing” can actually cause your site to get penalized by search engines.

If your developer is planning to add title tags, meta descriptions, or content for you, he or she should also be able to provide you with quality keyword research related to your industry. These keywords should not only be relevant to your business, you should also be able to plug them into Google’s Keyword Planner and find they have high search volume. Going after keywords without high search volume means no one will find your website. It’s also even better if the words they select have low competition along with high search volume.

3. Do you anticipate any added expenses?

When you get a quote for development, it is just an estimate. Make sure you tell your developer exactly what you are looking for on your site. If he or she has to purchase any software for example, they should let you know upfront. It’s also a good idea to know his or her hourly rate if the project takes longer than expected. 

4. How many revisions do I get with the design?

If a developer has to create multiple designs, this could get costly very fast. It’s better to ask upfront how many design options you will get, and how many times you can request changes to the initial design before you started getting charged additional fees.

5. What types of technical errors might a redesign cause, that could potentially harm my site’s rankings? What do you do to avoid these errors? 

404 errors can happen during a redesign, and are fairly common, yet must be fixed in order to prevent a drop in rankings. 404 errors take place when a page is not properly redirected and produces a “Not Found” message to your users. Your developer should know how to 301 redirect these pages to avoid these errors.

6. Will you use different title tags and meta descriptions for each of my pages?

If your developer adds the same title tags and meta descriptions to your site, even as “placeholders” on a new site, this can prevent your pages from ranking. Search Engines do not like any form of duplicate content, and it’s an issue that needs resolved sooner than later. As mentioned above, if this is a site redesign and the website was previously optimized for search, the developer should transfer over existing title tags and meta descriptions.

7. Which Content Management System (CMS) do you recommend? 

WordPress is still the most user-friendly, search-friendly platform out there. We highly recommend your builder creates your site using WordPress. If your developer plans on building a custom platform for your site, you could run into trouble down the road if the developer goes out of business and you are no longer able to make changes to your website. 

8. Will you delete old pages on my website?

Deleting pages is bad. It’s a search engine “DO NOT EVER”. Even if you have an ecommerce site and no longer carry certain products, you should not delete pages, but 301 redirect users to a different page on the site with similar products.

9. How will you communicate with the throughout the process?

As with any business relationship, communication is key. It’s best to ask upfront about deadlines, and when you should expect certain aspects of the site to be complete. It’s also helpful to know if he or she will update you in a timely fashion if something goes awry that will impact your launch date. Lastly it’s important to ask if he or she provides training at the end of the development process. If he or she doesn’t want you to be able to make any updates or change out content on the backend of your site (within reason, ie: posting blogs) that’s a red flag that suggests your developer will probably charge you for any small change on your site in the future.

10. What do you need from me to complete your work?

Often times a developer’s relationship becomes strained with a client due to unmet expectations on either side. For example, a good developer will let you know upfront on a new site if you will need to provide all the content for the pages, and when to have this complete. For a site redesign, he or she should ask if you intend transfer existing content, or add new. It’s important to know what’s expected of you upfront, to avoid costly delays in production.

Further Reading

Finding a web developer can seem like a daunting task. However, quality developers are out there, you just have to know the right questions to ask. For more information on how to avoid costly mistakes when building or redesigning your site, check out our recent blog, “If You Build It, They Will Come: Top 9 Mistakes You Can Make with a New Website, or a Site Redesign.”