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Do You Need a Web Designer or a Marketing Partner?

everybody's building websitesWe’ve been in the industry of web development for nearly 20 years. Perhaps the one thing that we’ve seen the largest growth in over the last several years is the number of “web designers” that there are in America. I should probably say “worldwide” because of all of the India-based designers that we hear from nearly everyday.

Would You Believe That There Are 100s of Thousands of “Web Designers” in the U.S. Alone?

According to several yellow page websites, there are more than 30,000 companies categorized under “web design” and more than 50,000 companies categorized as “websites”. Then add in all of the “one-man-shops” and marketing & ad agencies that have gotten into website design and the number soars.

On top of that – every kid coming out of high-school these days is a “computer guru” according to their parents. If you’re in business and you’re reading this, chances are that YOU know someone who you feel “knows everything that there is to know about computers, web design and ‘all things internet'”.

I’m in conversations nearly every day with business owners and perhaps the most common thing that I hear when it comes to discussing web development is that they know someone who is a genius at building websites.

Here’s Something to Consider: What is More Important? Knowing How to Push Some Graphics Around a Page, or Knowing How to Get Prospective Customers to Visit Your Website?

Website design is child’s play these days. Any web design company who tries to tell you different is lying. You can freely get access to tens of thousands of templates with programs like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and in about a day (for even the least computer savvy person) you can have a website. Website design has gotten SO EASY that Wix,, GoDaddy and others say that they will actually build your website FOR NOTHING. NO COST. NADA. There are tens of thousands of India-based designers who will build your website for pennies on the dollar.

So if all of these people are willing to build your website for NOTHING, ask yourself, “WHAT IS A WEBSITE ACTUALLY WORTH?”

I would argue that a website, by itself, is worth very little really. How much is one of your business cards worth? Go ahead and pull one out of your wallet and have a look at it. It has your company logo on it; maybe your photograph and perhaps some bulleted services that you render and your contact information, right? In your own hand that business card is worth nothing. Admit it, you’ve probably used a business card to jot down some reminder or note that you needed to remember. Now – pass one of those same business cards to a prospect and it just became worth something.

That is how websites work as well. ANYONE can build a website these days. Certainly a professional can create a better LOOKING website. A pro will probably do a better job of organizing the flow and navigation of a website. However, how a website LOOKS makes only a small amount of difference in terms of how productive that website will be.

business-cardsThink about it this way. Grab a hundred of your business cards and stick them in your pocket and walk around with them for a month or two – only handing out one or two cards in that span of time. No matter how amateurish or professional those business cards are – how much good are they doing you sitting in your pocket with only a sporadic few being seen by prospective customers? Now go to your local mall and place one under every windshield wiper in the mall parking lot. More people will see them but will everyone who sees them KEEP them or will they throw them away?

The MAJORITY of websites that we see are basically nothing more than an online business card. If you occasionally tell people to visit your site, then you’ll get the occasional visitor.

Just Because ‘Johnny’ Can Build a Website, Does NOT Make Him a Marketing Person…

marketing-kidImagine that every time that someone needed a service or product that your company provides – that one of your business cards would magically appear in their hands. Picture it – a potential customer is sitting in their favorite recliner, thinking about the very service or product that your company can provide and instead of seeing any other company – he sees your business card appear in his hands. THAT is what a successful and well-ranked website can do for you.

ANYONE can build a website these days. YOU CAN. However, only the very best, most diligent web design companies these days know how to make your website show up at the top of the search engines. Oh sure – they ALL say that they’re good at it – but that too is a lie.

Making a website productive takes a lot of time and effort. There is NO perfect, step-by-step science for every website – that will insure that it will get all of the traffic possible. Every website is different because every industry is different. Some industries are more competitive than others. Where a business is located also determines how competitive that industry might be.

For example, if you’re trying to get a jewelry website ranked well in Big Horn, Wyoming (population 490) then ‘little Johnny’ could be your web guy. However if you want that jewelry website to rank well in Houston, Texas or nationwide on Google – forget it…it isn’t happening unless you hire the right professional (and be prepared to spend a lot of money).

Likewise, getting a real estate website ranked well for “Bombay Beach, California homes for sale” (population 295) is a piece of cake. If you’re a realtor in Charlotte, North Carolina you’ll need to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to rank at the top of Google for even a few important search terms that would drive home buyers to your website.

That is Where a True Internet Marketing Professional is Needed

Chance are “little Johnny, the computer savant” is not going to be able to help you think the way that your average customer or client would think. He can’t; he’s probably still got a lot of MUSH for brains. Didn’t YOU when you were 15-25 years old? Heck, my own brain didn’t clear from an adolescent fog until I was in my 30s. If your average customer or client is in the 25-50 year old demographic and making in excess of $100K a year – do you REALLY want “little Johnny” thinking on your behalf about HOW to get your business in front of those people?

Getting true, productive traffic to your website is more “savvy, marketing” and “reverse thought engineering” than it is technical. It is more about recognizing how your customers and clients think and about how and what they might search Google for – than about how to upload files to a server. It is about how to create valuable content on your website that will get your website seen at the top of Google.

If you ask “Johnny” about what he thinks is the best way to market your company, he’ll probably advise you to advertise at the latest Demi Lavoto or Selena Gomez concert – because THAT’S what and who he’s crushing on right now. Ask an internet marketing professional the same question and you’ll probably get some valuable options and suggestions that will pay off in gaining new customer and clients.

When it comes to that “person that you know, who knows someone, who has a son who has built HUNDREDS of really great websites” – get him to clean his damn room and leave the all-important marketing of your company to a professional.

If “Little Johnny” is still living at home, dressing like a bum, driving the vehicle that mom or dad bought him – chances are NONE of those hundreds of sites he built are worth anything more than your single business card.

If you’re interested in a website that will generate new customer and business for your company, then click here – Hire a Website Designer with Proven Results

When is a BLOG NOT a Blog? Names and Websites Are Withheld to Save Embarrassment.

Blogging for Website Traffic? Um, No.

I don’t usually get into negative posts or blogging, but I can’t help myself as no less that three times within the last year or so I’ve been confronted with re-donculousness when it comes to the decisions that some people make. Lorraine (one of my clients) if you’re reading this I realize that I just made up a word and that isn’t proper grammar. However I did so for maximum effect because ridiculous just doesn’t suffice for the purpose of this BLOG.

I’m going to spend a bit of BLOG time to share three stories that HOPEFULLY will help someone out there somewhere to avoid the pitfalls of these three clients.CASE ONE:A potential client called to inquire about how we could help her grow her online consulting business. She is NOW a client so hence the non-use of her name – and YES I told her that I was going to use her in this post. “Jane” came to us because she was acutely aware that her website was getting NO traffic. When I say “NO TRAFFIC” I mean no traffic. During the discovery stage of our design process she told me of how she used her website to educate her current clientele and to attempt to impress potential clients with her online BIO and BLOGGING.I was desperately trying to wrap my head around how she was educating her clientele since her website received NO TRAFFIC. She then proceeded to inform me that she enjoyed using her website and that she spent an AVERAGE of two hours a day BLOGGING on it.

If you’re reading this and have YET to see the “punchline” coming then you’re probably missing out on the same thing that “Jane” did. According to Jane she averaged spending SIXTY HOURS a month or SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY HOURS A YEAR BLOGGING to N-O-B-O-D-Y.


If you’re not into math that is ONE MONTH A YEAR that Jane has been sitting at a computer sharing her wealth of knowledge with PERHAPS spammers and scammers – who were the only people coming to her website.  Jane is an otherwise BRILLIANT woman.Go figure.When I shared this little pearl of wisdom with her, she responded with, “You know I actually thought about that a few times, but it was like therapy for me anyway and I figured that sooner or later if I kept writing, people would come.Ummm…not so much.THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS: Is It BLOGGING or THERAPY if nobody is reading?CASE TWO: IS ANYONE “INN” THE HOUSE? NOT ANYMORE…In this case there are NAMES to protect…multiple ones because this client was recently not a client, after having been a client for many years…and they’re now a client again. If you’re confused – don’t be as I think I can clear things up. As in the previous case I have informed them that I was going to use them in this post.

For this story I will call these people, “THE BORED.” (Lorraine, I KNOW it is spelled ‘board’ but I’m trying not to be bored writing this, so work with me.)This client is located at the beach. I’m not saying what beach, but it is on the southeast coast and it isn’t in Florida, Georgia, or North Carolina. THE BORED had been a client for around ten years and we had progressed through three renditions of their website during that time and they had enjoyed amazing success. I’m not sure WHY they were BORED because they live and work at the darn BEACH and this particular BORED led a membership of lodging clients and ALL of their member websites enjoyed awesome bookings that came through their website.Then along came a “spider” – okay a fast-talking, so called SEO guru who did all of the fancy talking and power-word-dropping that he could muster until THE BORED decided that this guy HAD to know his stuff.

notchad<This isn’t “Chad” but it could have been. You know the type…

After all, his hair was perfect; his teeth were white and straight as heck and even his tie dared never to swish to the wrong side when he was presenting his case to be their new web designer.THE BORED couldn’t really help themselves when this guy (let’s call HIM CHAD because that’s his real name) spoke because he was THAT good. Turns out this guy had ONE-MILLION FACEBOOK followers and he was a SOCIAL MEDIA GENIUS and that’s all that THE BORED could focus on. It was as if he was slowly swinging a shiny chain in front of THE BORED. They were sold even before he could quote them a price. Turns out his price was “million dollar worthy” of his FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS. All THE BORED could see was these one-million people just sitting on Chad’s every word. They just KNEW he could get those people to stay in their inns.After six months it turns out that what Chad was REALLY good at was spending their money and tanking their once AWESOME traffic to their website. I guess it takes a lot of money to keep Chad’s hair in place and those teeth whitened.After six months it became apparent to THE BORED that their phones stopped ringing. Seems those one million Facebook followers couldn’t find their way to the phone and evidently though they liked the beach, they didn’t want to STAY there – even for a short stay.Even though THE BORED’S phones quit ringing, MINE rang one afternoon as one member of THE BORED wanted to find out what it would take to get their phones ringing again…like mine did. (Okay, I gloated just a little bit.)The truth is it is often HARDER to “FIX” issues that some firms create with their shortcuts and bad practices – than it is to get improved traffic to a new website.  Needless to say that we’ll be asking the one million Facebook followers to look at a different beach. Seems that Chad was BLOGGING the heck to these One-Million followers but evidently his “pied piper” approach to BLOGGING to the social crowd didn’t work.Again, is it BLOGGING if nobody is reading?THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS: Facebook CAN be good for your website, but it will NEVER surpass good old ORGANIC rankings to get your website traffic.  I know another scammer who had one-million Facebook followers on his Myrtle Beach Facebook page and he also operated a hotel/motel website and he advertised ALL OVER his own Facebook page and still couldn’t drive 200 visitors a day to his own website.There are TONS of misrepresentations and SCAM going on out their in “Social Media Land”. There are great choices that work, but for every ONE that is good – there are TEN that are bogus. You CAN’T know who to trust, so you need to research and talk with people who do business with these people who are shining their white teeth at you and find out what experiences OTHERS have had before you get dazzled.CASE THREE: WOULD YOU LIKE A LITTLE “WHINE” WITH THAT WEBSITE?In this story I’m going with a SECOND title – and it is:Do you want to be DAZZLED with brilliance, or BAFFLED with Bull-sh**?It BLOWS ME AWAY that otherwise BRILLIANT business men and women become goo-goo-eyed, PUTTY in the hands of ANYONE who can say “SEO” and “META TAGS”.  I’ve been in the business of marketing since 1974 and I have NEVER seen intelligent business people throw away money with ANY kind of marketing without FIRST requiring credentials and PROOF that what they are proposing to them makes fiscal sense. Yet in the case of this story I am going to call the owners of this beautiful WHINERY (Lorraine, I KNOW how to spell “winery”.) – I’ll call them Cain and Not-So-Able.These guys have tasked us and numerous members of their staff to BLOG for years…and VERY successfully so. Cain and Not-So-Able came to us after a few website blunders with other firms. When we took them on, their website was “boasting” 328 visitors a month. Not horrible, but not as impressive as their WINES.We’ve taken them to more than 32,000 visitors per month with good, old-fashioned ORGANIC rankings for anything and everything you could possibly want to be found for…when it comes to “pining for wine”.blogging for website trafficDuring our handling of the website, they asked us to help them get found for winery weddings. We did that. Bolstered by all of those successes they wanted to be found for winery lodging – we did that. Wine festivals – you guessed it.So BLOGGING and good ORGANIC content have been the driving force to push their website to awesome success without having to spend a penny on Adwords or advertising on Facebook, BLOG for traffic< No, this is NOT the attorney-turned Social Media Wizard.ENTER “Puss” – the SOCIAL MEDIA WIZARD – who used to be an attorney. Seems he’s a great talker – just NOT in court. Along the way a couple of years ago – he helped someone put up a website and NOW, one client later, he’s ready to take on a website that is ALREADY gaining more than 32,000 visitors a month. You can’t GET much more “social” that having a wine tasting with 32,000 of your wine-loving buddies every month.E-v-i-d-e-n-t-l-y Puss thinks you can. Puss has GOT to be “Chad’s” long lost brother because he is convinced that now that he couldn’t make it as an attorney, he’s a guru of marketing.Just so you don’t think that I’m sour because we’re losing this client – I’M NOT, because WE’RE NOT.Oh no. What we’re being asked to do is “Give Puss whatever assistance he needs” while he cranks up a brand new website with a huge, new emphasis on social media. The brothers Cain and Not-So-Able want us to continue to host the website…but we need to allow Puss and his team of two to do their magic.I’ve been at this stuff via the net for 18 years now and I can spot BS from 583.3 miles away. That happens to be the distance between my office and the doorstep of Puss’s office. I hopped over the Puss’s website and two things quickly stood out. The first was the fact that while they were using some nice WordPress themes on their OWN website, it was a standard theme template and the images were smudged or blurred in a place that was obviously not meant to be. The second thing that I noticed was that their own website’s front, default page was titled “HOME”.Uh-oh.So I plugged their website into a few tools at our disposal and in the last THREE YEARS their own website had NO ORGANIC traffic from Google. That is NEARLY impossible because our brothers from China, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and India USUALLY can find even the most difficult-to-find websites. Evidently “Peggy” hasn’t found their website just yet. Not in the last three years appears that they DID spend a couple thousand with Google Adwords in December of 2013 but when that didn’t get them any business, they stopped. What I’m trying to figure out is how their social media peeps aren’t visiting their website.


 FYI, they DO have ONE (1) ranking for “Thomas Edison Family Guy” for whatever that’s worth.By the way – these guys BLOG. Oh yea…they need to team up with JANE from CASE NUMBER ONE because maybe they could share some thoughts. Sorry Jane, you didn’t deserve that!I looked over their website to find some clients. None.  So, I hopped over to their social media page and lo and behold they have over 1200 followers. I had to look around. One social media client signed on with them on December 1st. They welcomed her with “Let the journey begin.” Nine days later she posted her disappointment when her journey went nowhere. Seems whatever BLAST they did – DIDN’T.Remember the BLAST was meant to get SHARED in their website. That’s hard to do when you’re getting NO traffic. It’s hard to get traffic when your home page is titled “HOME”.THE MORAL OF THIS STORY: Don’t make marketing decisions if you’ve been product testing your own product too often.So if you’re BLOGGING or BLOGGING to the social peeps of the world…you MAY want to check those analytics to see if anyone is reading. If so, carry on my wayward friend. If not, then maybe it’s saving you some money otherwise spent with a therapist.In the case of CASE ONE…we’re happy to say that “Jane” is now a well-read BLOGGER thanks to us helping her get her website found.In the case of CASE TWO, old “Chad” isn’t around anymore and THE BORED is back to answering the phone. It STILL isn’t ringing like it used to but we’re working on it and phase two of the repair work is scheduled for next week.In the case of CASE THREE, the jury is still out, but I’m betting anyone reading this – DINNER that “Puss the Attorney” will tank the website in question….and I will be asked to clean up the mess.Editor’s Note: Yes my BLOG is read. But YES I’m venting a little bit as this is therapy for ME as well.Until Next Time…if you’re thinking about using social media to assist in sending your website traffic, that’s smart. If you’re thinking about making it the focus of your website’s traffic – think again.



“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent’s point.The term was popularised in the United States by Mark Twain who attributed it to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who was reported as saying, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Actually it is argued that the phrase probably came from much earlier sources, but that’s an argument for another day and someone else’s BLOG. For the purpose of THIS BLOG post, I want to go on record to say that the old quote applies perfectly to today’s world on the internet. No matter what stats program you run on your website, I’d venture to state that a high percentage of the supposed visitors that ANY website receives isn’t traffic that will EVER do you, your website, OR your business any good whatsoever. Everything is “relative” when it comes to statistics and particular website stats, but there’s a very strong chance that a fairly significant percentage of your daily website traffic comes from sources or visitors who are trying to “pitch you” or perhaps use your website or email or both to SPAM others.I personally operate numerous tourism websites myself. I own,, and many other websites that all receive a ton of traffic – both good traffic and “BS traffic”. I’ve been in the business of web design before there was a “Google” and we performed SEO before there was such a thing. Back in the early days, we optimized websites with logical content to effect rankings on InfoSeek, Yahoo and AltaVista – which were the major players in the search engine game back then.TRACKING our results was a trickier thing back then as we’d all run unreliable “counters” on websites and then we migrated to more sophisticated programs like  iStats, WebTrends, Urchin and tons of other visitor tracking tools before Google Analytics came along. GA itself has changed a lot over the years and unfortunately so has traffic.About ten years or so ago we were tracking visitors to our ski and golf sites (as well as our web design website) and were under the assumption that we were receiving thousands of visitors per day, until Google Analytics came along and slapped us in the face with the fact that we were perhaps receiving about a third of the traffic we thought we were. That’s okay, over the years we’ve built up links and traffic that have created websites that pull 40,000 visitors a day and more….or do they? Let me explain…We own a web design website that we’ve tracked visitor data from for years. Last summer we were under the assumption that we were pulling around 8,000 or more visitors per month. Not bad for a niche website that generates us around 6-10 new clients a month. I always questioned our traffic because either 7900 visitors a month were not overly impressed with our work OR MAYBE we were not getting the kind of traffic that we thought we were. Like most website owners, we just “went with the flow” and figured that it “takes a LOT of oranges to  make orange juice”.Over the last few years we’ve seen SPAM emails skyrocket to our websites. I’m certain that you have as well. Nearly every day, we received emails to ALL of our websites (ski, golf, web design – it doesn’t matter) and most all of them are telling me that they can do design work, seo work, link building and more for me. It used to be that we’d get 8-10 leads a week on our CONTACT form from interested new clients. We still get THOSE, but we now also receive ONE of those kinds of emails for every TEN SPAM emails. (Yes, I get perhaps 100 offers a week to rebuild my website, get it ranked better, push more links to it and on and on and on.Like most semi-intelligent companies, we met early in January and set about on a mission to take our traffic up ten-fold for 2014 and part of that process was to launch a new website. We implemented content writing, and a Digital Marketing campaign to “work for us” like we do for our clients.When we implement a new campaign we like to have a “line in the sand” so that we’ll know where we stand at the point of launch so that we’ll know how far it is to “point B” and beyond.So we launched the site and setup a new Google Analytics campaign and immediately saw where tons and tons of our traffic came from all across the United States, which was a good thing and a TON of traffic was hitting us everyday from all over the world.Clients call us all the time astonished at how popular their websites are internationally. They brag about how their business is so well visited around the globe. We listen quietly and then explain that while their websites certainly GET legit traffic worldwide – the majority of that traffic is WIDELY interested in you alright – but MOSTLY interested in selling you or worse.Nowadays – the world (mostly outside of the United States) is interested in scamming you and I with offers that they cannot deliver on. They’re interested in taking money from us and sending TONS OF LINKS that will kill your Google rankings long enough that you’d probably have to change your business name to escape Google’s wrath. “They” are interested in also seeing if they can get into your website through weak databases to use YOUR website to send out SPAM. They are interested in using your website to send out MALWARE that can steal credit card information from your computer – and anyone who visits your websites after they’ve gotten in and infected it. They are interested in posting anti-American sentiments and on and on.What they ARE NOT interested in is doing business with YOU. HOW BAD IS IT? Oh brother, it is bad. Really bad.We ALL know that we are receiving more SPAM than ever and GMAIL, nor any other email host or web host can do much about it outside of ADMITTING that 99.99999% of the people that your website will probably EVER do business with are located within the borders of the continental U.S.Obviously, some of us do business internationally and if so, you’ll need to take special care in how to allow you website to seen by legitimate international clientele – while doing what you can to limit the “crap”.Most small business owners could do themselves a HUGE favor to simply BLOCK visitors from seeing your website unless they live within the United States.  Over the years we’ve picked up some international clients, but not enough to warrant all of the SPAM and potential security issues that come from allowing ANYONE, ANYWHERE to visit your website.The truth is (and it isn’t being preached out there much) is that if you want to cut WAYYYYYY down on the SPAM emails that you get AND NOT LOSE ONE spec of business – the easiest way to do that is to GEO-BLOCK your website.That’s really a pretty simple process. Of course, really industrious hackers and spammers can use proxies to still get to you, but now there are tools that can help you even block those.To illustrate just how “bad” SPAMMING and HACKING attempts are outside of the United States, last night (March 10, 2014) I placed a GEO BLOCK on our web design website. In LESS than 24 hours that GEO BLOCK stopped 473 international visitors from hitting our website. That reduced our traffic by about 40% in ONE DAY, however we also received NO SPAM offers today. Not one!More importantly, we noticed that the GEO BLOCK also did something else that was even more important and beneficial for us. It blocked NINE “visitors” who were TRYING their best to log into the BACK END of our website. They were trying to login to our CMS.WHAT THE HECK???The Target debacle opened a lot of eyes about website security or the lack of it and while the Affordable Heath Care website hacking has been swept under the rug – that website is more insecure than Taylor Swift. However they are not alone. Forbes recently reported that more than 10,950,000 websites were hacked in 2013. In case you’re not great at math – that is more than 30,000 websites a DAY getting hacked.Wanna know where 99.999999% of those hack jobs and malware, SPAM and security breaches came from? How about:ChinaRussian FederationUkraineGermanyFranceNetherlandsIndiaTurkeyCzech Republic…and even Canada.ANOTHER GREAT SIDE EFFECT OF GEO BLOCKINGIf you can afford to not allow traffic from outside of the United States to your website, there are tons of benefits. One is that you’ll know JUST how much of your daily traffic is legit. That will provide you a great sense of appreciation for just how decent your website is converting visitors to clients. Second, you WILL get FARRRRRR less SPAM emails. Third, your website will be soooooo much more secure from hackers and those who are trying to use your website and email for nefarious reasons. Fourth, the STATISTICS that you have been questioning for some time – will begin to make sense.One of the most misleading stats on Google Analytics is your BOUNCE RATE. If perhaps 30% of your traffic is from hackers and spammers, they are probably hitting ONE page of your website (your contact form, default page or whatever) and then leaving after 40 seconds. That visit skews the average time spent on your website AND the average PAGEVIEWS and your bounce rates.If you want to really get a good idea of what your web traffic REALLY looks like AND if you want to be able to delete far fewer SPAM emails – try GEO BLOCKING. It really, really, really works.If your web host or designer doesn’t agree or know how to implement geo blocking, call us and we’ll be glad to make your life a little more secure and free of statistical lies.Also – if you NEED to do business worldwide, you CAN block only those known culprits who are making a mess of your traffic. By the way, we’ve received tons of great comments and from our U.K. brothers. Hey, there’s no way we’d block them.


March 19th UPDATE: Wanna know JUST how effective GEO BLOCKING can be? How about this bit of data:In JUST the last 11 days by applying GEO BLOCKING to our own website, we have blocked 5227 visitors blocked from the frontend (meaning our front page) and MORE IMPORTANTLY 39 visitors blocked from the backend or our ADMINISTRATIVE portion of our website!

As stated previously, we’ve also CUT WAY down to almost nil on SPAM in our INBOX.





Russian Federation



Czech Republic







Iran, Islamic Republic of

Advice worth ignoring when choosing a website designer

custom ecommerce solutions

“Website Design? Oh don’t listen to him!”


If you’ve had a website built in the past, how many people did you speak with about developing your website? If you’ve recently undertaken the task of finding a website builder, how many people have you spoken with? If your answer is, “…more than three”, then you are not alone. I’ll venture an educated guess that you’ve – no doubt –  also heard three different takes on how to make your website successful. Knowing who to trust can be rather difficult if you aren’t already very familiar with how ranking and SEO work. I would ask you, how could you be or why should you be familiar or knowledgeable about how SEO works? After all, you have more important things to do, like running a successful business, right?

The task of choosing a truly knowledgeable developer and SEO expert doesn’t have to be that difficult if you apply a little common sense and a skeptical ear to what you are being told. First and possibly most important to consider is, can this company back up what they claim? Can they prove that they know how to make my website work for me? A good website design firm should be more than happy to show you what they have done for past clients. In fact, they should also be able to apply that same “successful formula” to their own website. Are they ranked well on Google? After all, if they are incapable of making it work for themselves, can you really expect they will hit a home run for you?

No one has all of the answers and they shouldn’t claim to. In fact, if you ever hear someone promising you number one rankings, you should turn and run. Unless the person you are talking to gets a paycheck from someone that rhymes with SCOOGLE, they can’t know exactly how ranking works. The general thinking is that Google can sometimes change the search algorithm as much as twice a day and what they are looking at and how much credit they give any one part of a website is a secret they guard very close to the chest. All anyone can go on is the advice they share with the public. Primarily that has to do with not taking short cuts. There is no “trick” to gaining higher ranking and those that DO try to game the system on your behalf will have very short lived success at best. Once Google catches on to a new “trick” they will shut it down and quite often, penalize those who are trying to pull a fast one on them. Trust me when I say, you don’t want to find yourself in that boat…. or you may never find yourself (your website) again in search results.

Find someone willing to put the work into your site. If you plan to have a powerful website in a very competitive market, be ready to pay for that hard work. If you hear big promises for bargain basement prices walk away. If you get advice from someone who is unwilling to SHOW you examples of their success stories, ignore them and find someone who can. While SEO consultants should be willing to tell you WHAT they plan to do and HOW their work will benefit your website, don’t expect firms to teach you how they build successful website design. That isn’t their job and you aren’t looking to launch a new career in internet marketing. As I mentioned at the very beginning, use some common sense. If they show you that they can walk the walk, you know you have someone you can listen to.

Click here to see more about “Guaranteed Search Engine Ranking

Who NEEDS to be the #1 Salesperson with Your Company?

You MAY be surprised at the answer!

SEO ConsultantsOkay the image that appears to the right or that prompted you to click and read this BLOG may have already given the answer away. However, the content of the rest of this BLOG may be thought-provoking enough to warrant the read. (Hope so. Also if you think one of your business-owning friends could benefit from this post – please pass it on via email.)

Let me explain HOW Google is the Biggest, Baddest Sales Rep on the Planet and HOW you’re probably not using them in that fashion. I’ll also detail a hint at HOW to do so.

Before I get too far into this BLOG, let me go ahead and place credit where credit is due. You can Google all day long and I don’t think you’ll find it ANYWHERE else but right here – where we are referencing a change that is needed in your thinking as it applies to Google being your NUMBER ONE SALES REP. (Go ahead and Google it. We’ll wait.)…okay, you’re back and you didn’t find anything where any other SEO firm is referring to Google as THAT guy or gal that you need to hire to your sales staff. The second bit of credit that I need to give out…is the fact that the genius who came up with this concept – is/was NOT yours truly.

I’m going to go ahead and put this out there on the “interwebs” that Matt Snyder, of AppNet New Media Studio developed the idea of Google as THE NUMBER ONE SALESPERSON ON THE GLOBE on February 25, 2014. Prior to that, I’m pretty certain that all of the rest of us not-so-brilliant, SEO Consultants had not really portrayed Google that way. However, let me elaborate.


Would You Pay Me 10-20% Commission on Sales that I Make for you?

Before you answer, let me set the table a little. I am one HELL of a good salesman. I’ve been in sales in one form or another since I was still a wet-behind-the-ears, young man in 1972. I went to work for my dad – who was the General Manager of a nationally, well-known insurance agency. That experience parlayed into forays into other sales arenas where I somewhat successfully sold mobile homes, furniture (retail and wholesale), magazine advertising – before finally (in 1996) I settled into website sales, development and digital marketing.

You could presume – since I have made a living all these years since 1972, that I must have always been pretty decent in sales – AND that I’ve probably gotten better at it over the years. I’d put myself right “up there” with the very best salespeople that I have rubbed shoulders with – and even though we operate in a much smaller “pond” – I think I’m probably every bit as talented as some “sales gods” in our industry.

Now that I’ve provided a brief resume and tooted the heck out of my own horn. Let me ask you again in more detail. If I came to you and said something like the following:

“Hi, my name is Mike Doble and I want to go to work for you with NO salary. You don’t have to train me AT ALL. You don’t have to spend ONE moment of time bringing me up to speed on your product and services. I will do all of the “heavy lifting” myself. If I bring you a brand new sale every day (or perhaps hundreds of new sales every single day) – would you be willing to pay me a referral fee or commission? I’m flexible about how much you pay me, but I’m thinking that somewhere between 5% and 20% (depending on your product or service) is a fair price to pay to have me selling the HELL out of your company. I will represent you with integrity, honesty and your new customer will sing my praises.”


Would you hire me?

Look I can SEE you guys and I can’t believe I just saw ONE of you shaking your head no! I KNOW you’re kidding. You’d hire me in a second, admit it.

Now take MY talents and outreach and multiply that by INFINITY, take THAT to the depths of forever, and you still BARELY have a glimpse of what I’m talking about. (I stole that sentence from one of my personal movie favs, Meet Joe Black – but it applies here. Let me explain.)

I have personally spoken to THOUSANDS of clients, customers and potential clients in all of my years in sales. I really wish I knew how many thousands but if you’ll indulge me another moment:

If I had worked EVERY working day within the last 42 years that I’ve been in sales – AND if I had spoken to 20 potential clients every day during those 42 years, I would have conducted 168,000 sales calls. (Man, I’m now tired just thinking of that and of course I have not spoken to that many people.)

So, I’m probably worthy of you hiring me and paying me a decent commission per sale, right? No, I’m not interviewing for a job.


However, now let’s look at who I KNOW to Be THE BEST SALESPERSON ON PLANET EARTH:

Last year, 2,161,530,000,000 people searched Google for SOMETHING, EVERYTHING. YOUR PRODUCTS. YOUR SERVICES.

I can’t even BEGIN to spell that out in everyday language. It’s way more than my brain can comprehend. I can do it somewhat easier by telling you that they averaged 5,922,000,000 searched PER DAY. Okay, I can do that one – it is FIVE BILLION, NINE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TWO MILLION searches every single day! (The chart at the bottom of this blog is kind of interesting to see Google’s exponential growth over the years since 1998.)

So let’s get to my initial point – HIRE GOOGLE!

If after all of my pleading for a sales job – if you had given a glimmer of a “YES” that you’d hire me on a commission basis – then WHY THE HECK would you not hire THE BEST SALESPERSON ON EARTH? The truth is Google is better than me. It pains me to say it, but they are.



I’m going to give you a few, no-brainer reasons:

1. Google IS changing their business model in ways that WILL shake the earth in terms of how websites are going to found in the future. They are implementing small changes every day and we can show you how and why it is important to enact a strategy to take advantage of these changes now.
2. While I and the best salespeople on the planet have to go out and FIND new leads and customers for you – BILLIONS of people are going to Google every day LOOKING for businesses that provide your products and services. Why not let those people COME TO YOU?
3. Google won’t miss ONE DAY of work. Not one. They won’t have sick days; they won’t take time off for vacations, pregnancies and they won’t have drug or drinking or depression problems. They won’t have attitudes that you have to work around. They won’t have car problems. They will simply sell brand new clients and customers EVERY SINGLE DAY.


For those reasons and SO MANY MORE, Google should be considered as THE NUMBER ONE SALES REP on your marketing team. Too many business owners have grown complacent and stuck in a mindset that they should just put all of their efforts into finding ways (good and bad) to get to the top of Google’s organic rankings with NO thought that there are simple ways to INVEST in Google. By “invest” I mean with great content…with advertising on Google…and link building (which also plays into the Google mix).

Another way to look at it is this – I don’t know ONE business owner who wouldn’t commit to paying out $10,000 for every $100,000 that I or any other sales rep could deliver. By simply building a website and putting it out there with NO REAL SEO/SEM strategy that involves the Gorilla Marketing GIANT of the century – is simply nuts!

If you’d like to know more about how to hire Google and put them to work for your company’s sales staff…feel free to call me. I won’t hound you for a job. I’ve got one. I sell for Google!

For more information, view our SEO SERVICES page.


Annual Number of Google Searches
Average Searches Per Day









3,600,000 *Googles official first year



Launching a New Website

Here at AppNet, we just launched the newly, redesigned website. This week (February 17-21, 2014) I have literally had the opportunity to speak with three different clients (one new and two long-term) about this very subject – that is launching a redesigned website.

In all three cases when the subject of “budget” came up, I had to “tap dance” around what I felt (feel) was (is) the most important aspect of any such project. In two of the cases this week, the client had already communicated with additional design firms and in each and every case, the other agency’s “bids” or proposals came in substantially less than I had quoted each. However in every single case, the other firms had simply quoted my prospective new and redesign clients WITH NO REGARD to protecting the rankings and traffic that each of these client’s websites had built up over years of successfully growing content.

One of the client’s websites was averaging over 80,000 unique visitors per month and on the foundation of more than 890 top ten rankings on Google alone. However, when this client consulted the other firms about a redesign, the firms in question only quoted what it would take to create the new website based solely on the “wish lists” of pages and construct of the new website. NO mention was made over recreating old content and handling any redirects, relinking, etc.

We Won in the Long Run…and so will these clients.

As it turned out, once I SHOWED just how well ranked the old content was AND how much adverse effect that losing that content and rankings would be on their traffic – they opted to award us with their business.

Coincidentally we have been going through the process of a new, redesign for our and just launched the new version today. We’ll let you know how things go with Google, Yahoo and Bing – however suffice to say that we saved the old PHP pages and rewrote many…and in every case, took measures to tell Google where our old pages had “moved” to on the new website.

That’s vital to insuring that you don’t lose any traction from an existing, well-ranked website. I’ll update you guys in a couple of weeks about how the work has gone…and how Google, Yahoo and Bing has worked with us. In the meantime I thought I’d share some tips or pointers in what YOU should think about when it comes to a redesign.

So have it at and check back soon for updates.


So, Do You Already Have Some SEO Juice?

You have a great website and it shows up in search engines for your most important key-phrases. This has worked for you since you originally launched your site. But your site is starting to look a bit tired. You see your competition launching redesigned websites and yours is starting to look “worn”….really worn.

So you make the decision to do a website makeover. You SHOULD take steps to protect your “juice” In website terms – JUICE – is the productivity that your website has in rankings and traffic. You don’t want to lose that, right?


If You Redesign Your Website, Will it Hurt Your Search Engine Rankings?

The answer is yes – at least for a bit…even if you take steps to protect your website. However if you just create a new website without regard to the old content, rankings and such…your rankings WILL DIE. You can’t just put up a new, beautiful website and expect it to rank the same or better. You have to “do it right” and by “right” I mean that you have to be certain to include the content pages from your old site (recreated with the new look) AND either keep the same page names – OR if your new platform doesn’t allow that you have to do redirects properly.


What do You Have to Lose?

A LOT if you are not careful to protect that ranking. The best approach is to use a ranking monitor to find all the phrases you rank for and determine the associated pages that are creating those rankings.That can be a tedious task and should probably be performed by an SEO expert  – however IF you’re going to do it you should set goals and use your analytics and good old Excel to make the best decisions.

I did this recently by simply exporting Google Analytics data into an Excel spreadsheet. Be sure to export your most visited pages over a long period – and not just for the last month or so. Also sort by PAGES and also by KEYWORDS so that you can cross-reference and KNOW what your most important pages are…and by “MOST IMPORTANT” I mean most important to your rankings, traffic, etc.


Know Which Pages Really Work.

Sometimes you can get so caught up in what YOU feel like are the most important pages of your website, that you don’t actually know which pages are most important to your customers. When I was researching the “juice” that I wanted to push over to the new website that we were working on, I was surprised to see that some of the pages that I would have probably left off the new website – were actual well visited and ranked. If someone can still find that old page from your old website (on Google) then you’ll want to make sure that they can find it on the new one – even if that means that you need to recreate it in your new design platform (like WordPress, etc) and then redirect the old PHP or HTML page to the new spot on the new website. That was kind of “all over the place” but I think you get my drift.

In short, your newly redesigned site needs to have a corresponding page for each high ranking page on the old site, and ideally a page for every page in Google’s index.


Site Structure and Internal Links

Since I just hinted at website structure…let me throw that ingredient into this recipe for redesigning.

If your domain has juice, keep it.The worst mistake that some newbies make is to make the decision that since we’re working on a new website, MAYBE it’s time for a new domain name. OH MY GOODNESS! You can do all of the Google Webmaster “tooling” you want to tell Google that you want them to give you ranking “credit” from the old domain to the new – but Google does “weight” old domain names and new ones can take a bit of time to be respected by the search engines – enough to rank well. (I know I will get some argument on that statement, but I’m right.)

So, let’s assume we’re redesigning your website on the same domain name. For sites that have some real history and good ranking, the rule of thumb is; don’t change your URL and don’t change the URLs for the most important pages. Unfortunately, that is often easier said than done, since the goal of the redesign may be to upgrade your site platform and improve the URL structure. If the URLs must change, it is crucial to take additional steps to protect those pages and the rankings that come with them.


Don’t Forget to Redirect Your Back Links

Back links are one of the most important tools for improving your SEO. Knowing where your back links are coming from will help you create redirects to the newly create pages on your new site. You won’t be able to update links on other websites, but you can make sure they aren’t broken. Use a back link checker to list out the pages on your site others are linking to.

Research your indexed pages. Use something like Google Webmaster Tools to see all the pages that are indexed by Google, not just the ones that rank high – don’t forget those.

Now that you have a list you can create redirects to send visitors and the search engines to the corresponding new pages. Use a “permanent 301” redirect for each to new or similar page on the redesigned site. This process will help.


Prepare For The Indexing

Create a new sitemap.xml file. Sitemap files help the search engines find pages on your new site. If you are using a CMS like WordPress, there are great plugins that will create a sitemap for you. Also remember to update your robots.txt file. If you’ve added any additional functionality your new robots.txt file will be a bit different, especially if you have switched to a new CMS, added a login area etc. The robots.txt file lets search engines know what not to index.



Many SEO gurus will tell you to be sure to link from this page to that page and string a bunch of links all over your website and even some of the best SEO plugins will direct you to be very “matchy” on pages. Match your title to your keyword and include the keywords in your META titles and H1 tags and content and ALT tags, etc, etc, etc.


I’m going to advise you to keep keywords in mind in the sense that you need to make sure that the subject of each page is evident. However don’t write ANYTHING for Google, Yahoo and Bing. Write for your customers. Speak to them with your titles, content, etc. If you speak to your customers…you will get the rankings that your website deserves

…and another thing! Data tells us that we’re only going to get about 4-6-8 pages and maybe 4-8 minutes per visitor on a website. So DIRECT your visitors to the 4-6 pages that YOU want them to see. By linking all over the place you allow your visitors to drive the bus wherever they want to go on your website.

When you are redesigning your website, give thought to where YOU want their focus to be and create the NAV such that they really can’t GET anywhere except where you want them to go. You can thank me later.


It’s Launch Time

Once you launch the new website, your work has JUST really begun. Now you will need to LIVE on Google analytics to check for crawl errors. Use your web tools to check for 404 errors (page not found!). Also, make sure the XML sitemap is functioning properly.

Redesigning your website does not have to be painful. It only needs to be thoughtful. Search engines and people like fresh content and thoughtfully redesigned websites. So, have no fear of redesigning your website, just keep your focus on SEO and functionality during the process. When in doubt, talk to an expert.

If you’re thinking about a redesign, whether you’re going to do it yourself or contract with a developer to handle that task for you – talk with an expert. We’d be happy to talk with you, regardless of whether you contract with us or not. After all, we’re all in this together, right?


We invite you to read MORE about Search Engine Ranking.

Editor’s Note: AppNet ranks NUMBER TWO on Google for top ten search engine ranking as well as thousands of other search terms and our clients enjoy high rankings as well. So we have a little history of success and hope these redesign a website steps post can help you on your next website redesign.

Mobile Version of Website

responsive web designMobile / Schmobile. Forget everything you thought you knew about the need for mobile websites.

A few years ago we began getting more and more calls from our clients asking for the costs to implement a mobile version of their websites. As the number of iPhones, Smartphones and iPad users grew – so did the need for making certain that your website could be viewed properly on these devices.

The issue during those early days was that you basically needed to create TWO websites – one for most devices such as any desktop and iPads – and another, scaled down version of your website for mobile phones, etc. Something that few people talk about is the fact that mobile phone manufacturers and providers realized that the internet was not keeping up with the times because so few websites (percentage-wise) transitioned to mobile sites – that the phone providers began making their devices more “internet-friendly” since the internet (Per Se) wasn’t becoming “mobile-friendly” fast enough.

So in essence mobile technologies took things in their own hands and made their devices easier to surf the net.

Nevertheless, business owners scrambled to get mobile websites (or at least inquire about doing so). What they found out was that a TRUE mobile website was nothing more or less than a scaled down version of your full website. The cost to build a mobile website was basically priced the same as designing a full-sized website. Design companies basically charge a little less per page, but a 5-6 page mobile site would cost about one-half to two-thirds that of a full sized site.

Around the time that there was a huge rush for mobile websites .mobi domain names popped up and host firms bought their .com domain names in the .mobi extension which was basically a big waste of time and money as the need for them became obsolete for the most part. Savvy design firms designed websites in CSS and styled different versions for different devices and placed code to detect what kind of device was hitting a website.

Websites began popping up that promised a FREE mobile website in minutes and tons of people have used Dudamobile, GoMobi and other websites like Mobelio to deliver mobile versions. Those are actually pretty good options, but they do have some limitations and what they offer is basically a separately hosted SECOND website, etc…



Responsive Web design (RWD) is a Web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors to huge 60″ flat-screens).

A website designed with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images, and CSS media queries.

  • The fluid grid concept calls for page element sizing to be in relative units like percentages, rather than absolute units like pixels or point sizing.
  • Flexible images are also sized in relative units, so as to prevent them from displaying outside their containment.
  • Media queries allow the page to use different CSS style rules based on characteristics of the device the site is being displayed on, most commonly the width of the browser.

So we went from needing two websites, to .mobi, to separately hosted versions, to CSS “tricks” to Responsive Web Design, which began making the rounds back in the midst of 2010. It took a while to catch on until Responsive Design was finally listed as the #2 top web design trends for 2012 by .net magazine. Other designer mags (both print and online) called 2013 the “Year of Responsive Web Design” and why not since it basically allowed designers to create ONE website on your ONE domain name that would display perfectly no matter the device it was being viewed on.



…and when Google speaks, you’d better listen. No SEO firm that I am aware of has come out and said that Google might even be rewarding your website a few brownie points in the ranking algorithms if you use Responsive Web Design on your website – but I wouldn’t be surprised. Google recommends responsive design as one of three options in its Guide: How to Approach Multi-Device Sites for Your Business?

Are you listening?



If you’re in the market for a new website – make it a Responsive one because it will save you money and since 20-30% of your visitors are now coming to you on iPhones, Smartphones and mobile devices – don’t turn your backs on them. Go “responsive”.

If you’re interested in a Responsive Design Quote <click here



WordPress CMS

wordpress cmsBefore I get criticized for anything “negative” that I might be construed as saying about WordPress, let me sing its praises with two comments.

1. The website that you’re looking at right now was designed and is managed with WordPress.

2. WordPress is an awesome tool that allows you to add, edit and delete content on your website through adding pages, adding BLOG posts (like this one) and by allowing you to manage content that displays on any of your social media connections – on your website.


So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me now state emphatically, that it isn’t the perfect CMS (content manage system) for anyone who is even slightly, technologically challenged.

I’ve been building websites since the mid 90s and back in those days we designed in NOTEPAD – which for anyone other than a rocket scientist it made for websites that were VERY vertical. Back then we built websites that were “ten stories tall” with content separated by “horizontal lines”. Then we migrated to programs like Hotdog Pro, Hot Metal, CoffeeCup, and even Mozilla had a pretty nice HTML editor. I personally used Mozilla for years with great success.

A few years later good ole Microsoft came along with Microsoft Frontpage and I moved over to that for most of the last several years. I’ll never forget when one “professional web developer” emailed me because I had called MYSELF a web design pro on one of my first company websites. He wrote, “You call yourself a professional and yet you use Frontpage. REAL web design artists design in Notepad!”

I wrote him back, “Dude I can go out in my yard and dig a hole in the ground with my hands, but a shovel SURE makes it easier!”

He never wrote me back…


That said, there are now so many web design programs available to create wonderful web design with Dreamweaver and tons of others. In fact, all of our AppNet developers have used Dreamweaver for years. They still chuckle when they see me tooling around with Frontpage. Over most of the first few years, business owners were content with their “webmaster” handling the edits and content changes. However, over the last many years, people want to be able to (and so they should) make their own changes and updates to their own websites. The reasons are more numerous than there are web design software programs these days.

So we and every other digital design company either migrated those clients to programs that allowed that, or we created our own bit of CMS that allowed for certain control without blowing up a website. The truth is had we not allowed clients that kind of control, they’d have left us in droves!


Then along came WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and others. The problem with most of these THEME based design programs is that they were all very TEMPLATE looking, insecure (hackable) and they were hard as hell to get ranked on Google, even though truckloads of SEO plugins claimed otherwise. However, like any really good product, the pool of people who began using WordPress grew so huge that developers created some really cool functions and features (called widgets and plugins) that have now made all of the search engines take note. The security issues have been resolved (for the most part) and WordPress websites can actually make it so much easier than standard HTML or CSS websites to get them ranked well.


So what is my beef? It isn’t REALLY with WordPress…

wordpress cms editorClients (new and old) are calling us all of the time now wanting to be able to control content on their websites. No issue there. The issue is that using programs like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are not as simple as some potential, web designer, wannabe, entrepreneurial clients think they are to use.

<Take a look at this screen. Do you see anything there that seems to be easily, intuitive for a technologically challenged person to know that THIS is their “contact page”?

I’ve shown the ADMIN control panel for WordPress to a few clients and while they are ALL intrigued by it; they are equally concerned that it might take them a bit of time and training…but that AFTER some training they feel that it would be great for them.


Which brings me to my beef.. (you knew it was coming, right?)

Here’s the deal. WordPress and other THEME or template based design platforms are anywhere from FREE to very inexpensive ($125 is about the most expensive I’ve used). So clients (and potential clients) feel that since the program is FREE, that we should just give them the program and that way they’ll have a brand new website for pennies. (Yes, they’re willing to pay me a little something for my time ;-)

What a lot of people don’t think about is that ALL design software is FREE once you buy it one time. So while Dreamweaver may have cost $600 +/- initially – after the first web design, any others that we created with it, cost us nothing. Right?

Let’s move past that little gripe to the one that is MORE problematic.

So we’ve built you a brand new website using WordPress. Now you can go in and easily manage all the pages, add pages, write BLOGS, etc, right? If you’re a web design savant from birth maybe. For most of you who are reading this, not so much. So we’ve put the new website up and we did it in WordPress JUST so that YOU can now manage your website. Since you don’t know how to use the tools and you don’t even understand the language and terms being used in it…you only have a few options to get up to speed.

1. FIND a savant somewhere who can teach you for free.

2. Go and take the time to read’s many tutorials. (Sure, you SAY you’re going to do that.)

3. Have us teach you how to use it.


The first two options take time and effort on your part and it’s been our experience that if there’s two options on the table – to read some mind-numbing literature – or to pick up the phone and call us…people will pick up the phone and call us.

…and call us. …and call us. …and call us… until you’ve come up to speed. We’re willing to do that, but most new clients want their website VERY inexpensive and we burn up their budget creating the website. THEN they want training, because after all, you paid us for the website, right?

Unfortunately in any world that I’ve visited lately…time is money.

Let me just close by saying that WordPress is AWESOME as a CMS tool. Just know what you’re getting into BEFORE you jump on that bandwagon. Have us or your web designer to show you briefly how things are edited before you agree to go with that platform, because in reality it could cost you as much is TIME to get the training you need, than it could for the web design itself.

Better yet, talk with us or your designer about a monthly maintenance agreement that can cover the costs of your time and their/our expertise.