Thursday, August 6, 2009

Should I Offshore My Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Web Design?

The question of off-shoring search engine optimization (seo) and web design projects is one I am faced with on just about every initial client consultation that I walk into. Many business owners are attracted by the promise of first page Google results for very cheap, almost "too good to be true" prices. Being a fan of tongue in cheek clich├ęs, I can tell you that if the prospect seems too good to be true, it probably is! That said, most business owners in desperate times are willing to take their chances on outsourcing their search engine optimization to overseas web design firms. There are many misconceptions with this practice and I do not think that the pros outweigh the cons. I'll touch on a few of them here.

Communication Breakdowns
I am an American small business owner. I conduct my business in the United States. Both my clientele and myself speak fluent English. We understand the inflections and spoken dynamics of the language like second nature and the use of current slang is never an issue. So why would I place my livelihood, my business, into the hands of someone that didn't have the same command of the English language as I do? Unless I have a very detailed, clear and concise Statement of Work (SOW) aligned with an overseas project manager who understands all of the nuances of the English language, -I am setting myself up for a lot of miscommunication, wasted time, wasted money, and probable frustration.

I know what you're thinking, "How can I say something so brash and politically incorrect in 2009?" I can... because I have worked in these scenarios for many years and it is a harsh reality. If you have ever called a large corporation for technical support and you were greeted by someone with a barely understandable accent. If you have ever ended such a conversation feeling like your issue remained unresolved, or if you were frustrated because the technical support person did not fully understand your issue; then you know what I am talking about. This is much the same way that you can expect your search engine optimization or web design project communications to flow.

Humanitarianism and Cheap Labor
I had an interesting meeting recently with a potential client who had a plethora of deprecated web design and software solutions to facilitate his business processes. My specialty is taking convoluted business processes, removing duplicated effort, and streamlining them by developing solutions that are scalable and affordable.

When the topic of search engine optimization came up, my client’s response was "Oh that's easy to do, I can do it myself or I can get some guy in India to do it for $5.00 an hour. Why should I pay you to do SEO?" At that moment I decided not to go down that road, but I completely disagree with this type of thinking for a couple reasons. First of all, submitting your website to 10,000 different search engines is very easy to do, however, that is not what natural or organic search engine optimization is all about. Sure, anyone can add keyword and description Meta tags to their web site and call it SEO, but true search engine optimization is a very well thought out process of website architecture. The overall web design strategy is developed with search engines in mind, not as an afterthought. Second, I happen to know several of these overseas programmers personally as I have worked with many of them from India, China and South America. They work very hard and they work long hours. They will often work 80 to 90 hours a week to support their families without overtime pay or additional compensation.

Then there is the case of pride and human decency. I would not pay any of my employees $5.00 per hour and I question the integrity of anyone who would. I would be insulted if someone asked me to work under those conditions for that amount of pay. How would you feel working all day and night for that kind of salary... fulfilled?

Keeping with Technology Trends
You also want to be careful because many of the fly-by-night SEO firms that are overseas are using outdated techniques like link farms and keyword stuffing. This was a popular approach to SEO rankings in 1998 but today is considered by most search engines as black hat search engine optimization or search engine hacking. Search engine algorithms are looking for these kinds of techniques and your website will be automatically banned and removed from their index. You do NOT want this to happen.

Face to Face Relationships
This is probably the most important aspect of any web development project. As a business owner, when I'm entering into a new contract with a vendor, I want know exactly who I am dealing with. Upon meeting every one of my potential new clients they get my face sitting across the desk from them. They get my hand extended outward for a hand shake. Furthermore, once a decision to do business has been made that client has my email address, home phone number, personal cell phone number and my instant messenger ID along with the freedom to contact me day or night. My clients, who I am very thankful for, appreciate that type of personalized service. To them, it shows that I care about their website and I do. I treat each and every one of their businesses as if it were my own. You will not find this kind of service overseas for any price.

In closing, things are tough with the United States economy right now and there are tens of thousands of web developers looking for work. Many are willing to work with you on pricing if given the chance and I think that we should first focus on putting our own people back to work. Employing people right here at home is what will get the economy pumping again. Then again maybe I'm just some geek with a website and an opinion, but there it is.

If you would like a NO OBLIGATION Search Engine Analysis for your website, I would be happy to let you know where you stand and what can be done to help your website get noticed on Google and all of the other major search engines. Just fill out our complimentary SEO Analysis form and you will hear from me shortly.

Happy Coding!
Bill @ gnidesign

Special note: To my programming friends overseas that I have had the honor and privilege to do work with. You know me, and you know that I have embraced cultural differences and consider you all family. My comments and opinions here do not reflect what we have accomplished and I respect you all with great regard.


Faith said...

To create a positive impact on your visitors, you should have an attractive, well organized website, which helps to increase your product sales and profit. For this, the website must be provided with suitable animations, images, shopping carts, and forms, thus we must a good seo web design firm to deal with.

Mary Rogers said...

This is great information topic about search engine optimization and web design.Nice article , thanks for sharing this post ..
Small business web design