John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. This is “Digital Marketing Madness.” This podcast is brought to you by McDougal Interactive. We’re a digital marketing agency in Danvers, Massachusetts ‑ on the north shore of Massachusetts.
Today my guest is Rick Floyd. We’ll be discussing “Why a cheap web designer or developer overseas will end up costing you more.” Welcome, Rick.
Rick Floyd: Thank you, John.
Why A Business Would Choose an Overseas Developer
John: Rick, why would a business choose to have a cheap web designer or developer overseas build them a new website?
Rick: The answer’s probably pretty obvious. They’re trying to save some money. In general, you’re going to get a quote for a lot less for what is perceived to be, initially, the same website, app, services, whatever the suite of things you’re trying to put together for your digital marketing, or your business. You’re just trying to save a little money. It’s as simple as that.
John: As we know, in certain countries overseas, the hourly wage is less, and as a lot of companies are doing manufacturing overseas, and things like that to save money, it’s a similar situation with website development.
Rick: I certainly don’t mean to throw everybody overseas into a big bucket, that this is going to happen, but the likelihood is much higher that it’s going to happen. I can say that because I’ve been in this business for 25 years, and I’ve seen it time and time again.
There are ways to really vet people, if you are going to go that way, and certainly we’re going to discuss that at the end of this podcast. Make sure that you don’t get into that situation.
It’s very likely, and one of the problems is if you do run into any issues, and I’ve seen this time and time again, where something’s not quite right, so maybe you hire somebody in the states to look at this, and they say, “Well, this was done completely wrong.”
Then you call up your friendly cheap web designer overseas, and you find that the phone number doesn’t work, and they’re gone, and they’re not returning your calls, and they have your money. There’s not a whole lot you can do at that point.
John: That is a possibility.
Rick: It’s a possibility.
John: What are some of the other types of problems that you’ve seen?
Types of Problems with Overseas Website Development
Rick: In general, I’ve seen this time and again, also. Basically the inability to say, “No, I don’t know how to do that.” You can ask a lot of these folks almost anything. “Are you an SEO expert?” “Oh yes. SEO experts.”
“Have you been designing websites for a long time?” “Oh yes. Twenty years.”
John: Do you do PHP? Do you do ASP?
Rick: “Of course I do. I do absolutely everything, and I’m an expert at all of everything.” Right.
That should pique your interest, there, and you should be saying, “OK…” That’s one of the things you will hear. They will, in general, tend to promise you everything. That goes for US‑based developers, too.
I would not hire someone who — because nobody is an expert at all of this stuff — I would rather hire someone who says, “Yeah, that’s not my specialty, but I’ve got a subcontractor I’ve been working with for years, who I’m glad to give you references for, who does that.”
That’s more what I would want to hear.
John: Any other specific types of issues that you’ve seen?
Rick: A lot of the overseas people are WordPress specialists, and WordPress being a huge platform for websites now, one of the biggest issues, it seems and sounds very simple, but it can literally kill your business online.
In WordPress, when you’re developing a site there’s a little checkbox that you check, in one of the settings, and it says, “Hide this website from Google.”
When you’re developing it, maybe you have your real site somewhere else. You don’t want this site to index in Google as well, because it’s incomplete, the pages might just have placeholder copy, so you check this little box. I’ve recently launched four different websites, or helped clients launch four different websites, where they went the overseas developer route.
I am not kidding about this, this was in the last few months – all four of them they forgot to uncheck that box. If the people we’re working with hadn’t been smart enough to have me do an overall look at the website, that site would have launched, and would never have indexed in Google.
John: Maybe you have a thousand pages indexed on your website now. Now you launch your new website, and all of a sudden all those pages go away, and nothing is indexed. You’ve just lost all of your ranks that you had in the search engines.
Rick: And maybe a bunch of money that you have paid, put out to gain those ranks. You may have saved a few thousand dollars on your website, and literally, you might have lost tens of thousands just on that one little checkbox. It seems insignificant, but it’s not.
John: Hopefully you can uncheck it, and Google will come back and crawl the site, but that can take a little bit of time. It might take a week or two for them to come back to the site, and re‑crawl it. In the meantime, you’ve lost money, maybe, especially if you have an e‑commerce website, or something like that.
Rick: If you do go that route…what the clients I was working with did is they had me look over the site while it was still in the development state, before they launched it. We did catch this before it launched. That’s something to look out for.
Let’s say you have forms on your website, and they have some Google AdWords conversion tracking code. The important things in AdWords is not just to spend money, and get clicks, it’s to get clicks that actually submit your forms, buy your product, make a conversion on your website.
John: You want to be able to track all of that.
Rick: Right. Or just a contact form. I want to see how many people are really converting, either into top of the funnel leads, or buying products. I’ve seen this happen, again, where they’ll build your forms into the site, but they don’t know enough to look, and see if you have conversion tracking code.
Maybe you don’t either, because you had a web marketing guy do it, and you’re not supposed to be expected to understand that. They leave it out, and all of a sudden, you have no idea. You find out a month or two down the road, you look at your analytics, you have no idea how much your AdWords have been converting.
Some people spend a lot of money on AdWords. You can see where these amounts of money are adding up, where you think you’re saving money, but it’s going to cost you more. There’s more to come in that department.
John: Is part of the issue there that you should really be upfront at the beginning of the project with all of the little details of what it is that you are looking for in the new website, and maybe those conversations are not happening? Are those conversations not happening because they’re overseas, and there’s more communication issues there?
Rick: In part, yes. Of course, this could happen anywhere. This happens in the US, too. A really good web developer, web designer, digital marketer will ask you a series of very important questions that’s going to lead them to do certain things for your site.
That’s a red flag, too. If your developer goes, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I can do all this,” and then doesn’t ask you anything about your business – red flag.
How Problems Affect the Bottom Line
John: How do these problems affect a business’ bottom line? Obviously, you’ve just named a few things where you can be losing a lot of money, in some of these cases.
Rick: Let’s say that your site didn’t index in Google, that’s one. Then there’s another one, too, that goes hand in hand with what you just mentioned. You have a website with a thousand pages, you build a new website with a thousand pages, but you change the URLs, maybe, the web addresses of the pages.
You have to do what’s called “A search engine friendly 301 redirect” on the old pages, which is basically telling Google, “Hey, this page is still here. The web address has just changed.” That enables you to hold your rankings, hold all that good SEO juice you built up.
That’s something else I see. Either the redirects are implemented wrong, or not at all, or they never even mentioned it to you, and you don’t know you’re supposed to do it. You can, again, lose all your rankings. You’re losing business because you don’t have rankings.
All that money you spent to get them is gone, and now this is the final straw for all this, is for any of these problems, you then have to go and hire that person that quoted you that couple thousand dollars higher in the first place, and now you have to pay them a couple thousand dollars to fix all this.
I’ve seen it. You can literally spend five times the original estimate amount that you might have gotten in the states, when you were trying to save a couple thousand bucks.
Problems with US-Based Web Developers
John: Are there things to watch out for, even if I hire a US‑based Web developer?
Rick: Every single thing I’ve just said.
John: All the same things apply?
Rick: Anybody can do this. The thing to watch out for is trying to save too much money. A good website…Let’s say you have a business, it’s a small business, and you have 40, 50 pages in your site. Maybe you have an e‑commerce site with only 50 products.
If you hire somebody who knows what they’re doing, you probably expect to spend, let’s say $15,000 to $20,000 on that. Maybe $10,000 on the cheap end. If someone tells you they’re going to do that for you for $3,000, I don’t care if they live in New York City. That’s a red flag. You’ve got to watch out for that.
John: Right, because they’re just not going to be thinking through all of these details that you talked about, with setting up 301 redirects from the old pages to the new pages, and making sure that the box is unchecked in WordPress to make sure that it gets indexed by the search engines. They’re just not thinking about that when they’re doing it for that kind of price point.
Rick: The bottom line is don’t try to save too much money on your website, especially if it’s important to your business. If it really is just an adjunct to your business, you feel like, “Oh, I’ve got to have one because my chamber of commerce requires me to have one…”
If it is your business, or it’s a big part of your business, I really caution you about trying to save too much money with it.
How To Avoid Issues with Your Web Development
John: What is the best way to avoid these types of issues?
Rick: Absolute best way, no matter whether you’re hiring overseas, or in the US, is to ask for references. If somebody’s telling you, “I do all this great work,” that’s fine. You can ask to see examples of their work, however, how do you know if they’re just giving you a URL of a nice‑looking website?
The absolute best way is to ask for references. “Hey, can I talk to a few clients that you’ve done this for?” The clients will tell you, “Hey, Bob, or so‑and‑so, was great. Fantastic. They transferred all our data, and all our content, perfectly. They did the redirects. We had no problems. We lost no search‑engine rankings.”
That’s probably one of the biggest things. If I was interviewing somebody who was a reference, I would say, “How were your search‑engine rankings before this, and how were they after? Did it all go well?” “Did you have to hire someone else afterwards to clean up anything?”
John: To clean up the mess.
Rick: References, as with almost anything, are the absolute best way to go.
John: That’s great advice, Rick. Thanks for speaking with me today.
Rick: Thank you, John.
John: For more information about digital marketing, visit McDougalinteractive.com, and subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.
Thanks for listening, I’m John Maher. See you next time on Digital Marketing Madness.