Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions? Here are some of the more frequent questions people ask.
Before we began offering our now popular all-included monthly service, we used to charge our clients up-front for the development of their website. The cost was broken into three elements: (a) a price for the website, (b) a monthly support amount, and (c) a nominal hosting fee. We often found the price of a website and related social media infrastructure to be in the neighborhood of $10,000. Some were around $8,000, while others were as high as $12,000, if you exclude ecommerce websites which are typically a lot more complex. We charged 30% to get the project started, 40% when the website went live, and 30% a month later.
How it used to be for a typical website:
- $10,000 for the website delivery ($3k up-front, $4k on Go Live, and $3k due at Go-Live-plus-one-month.)
- $59/month support.
- $10/month hosting (includes backups, etc.)
Many of our target clients didn't have $10,000 lying around to spend on a website, so we came up with a model that allowed them to "rent" their new website instead of buying it outright. With this rental model alternative, we charge 1% of the average website price as the monthly "rental" amount.
We offer this monthly "rental" figure to qualified prospects only.
This is how the monthly website rental model is broken down:
- $100/month "rental" of the website, which runs for as long as the website is live.
- $59/month customer support.
$10/month hosting fee. (high speed, dedicated server, backups, etc.).
Does your business qualify?
To qualify for this service offering, the following must be true:
- You have had a website on the domain in question for at least three years.
- The business is your full time occupation.
- You have been in business for at least three years.
- You have clients/customers, revenue and are a for-profit organization.
If you believe you might be a good fit, and you current website is not working for you, we may be able to help.
A Long Keyword Strategy is a way to improve your chances of matching your website and related content, with search words entered by people on the Internet. The idea is that very specific terms -- with more words in them, essentially -- has a lot less competition for search words than one or two words might have. To illustrate this, let's look at a fictitious example:
A plumbing service company in Lower Manhattan, might compete with dozens or even hundreds of other plumbing service companies in the area. So how can they expect to appear at least some of the time on the first page of search results?
Because the tiny plumbing company competes with some very large service providers, they can't expect to appear early in search results when someone simply enters "plumber manhattan" into Google or other search engine. What they can do, however, is create content that matches more detailed -- but less frequent -- searches on the web. This is done by creating content that matches very narrow topics within the company's area of expertise. Instead of expecting a search for "plumber manhattan" to bring the company's name onto page one of search results, the plumber creates a number of blog postings, each talking about specific plumbing issues. Such a blog posting might have a page title
- "What to do when a leaky pipe seeps through the drywall of your condo in New York City" or
- "Locating the master cut-off valve for your apartment in Manhattan".
The long page titles in the two above examples won't match search words very often — because the longer combination of words is simply searched for only occasionally — but when they do, they stand a good chance of matching perfectly. Perfectly matched page titles with search words are something like holding a Royal Flush in the card game of poker. They don't happen so often, but they beat almost anything.
If you are a one-person plumbing service provider in Lower Manhattan, you don't need as many phone calls as a national, 500-person plumbing organizations does, so a Long Keyword Strategy might provide the handful of leads you need.
Then it's a question of numbers. The more blog postings you post to your website — assuming you have everything else in place — the "luckier" you can expect to get.
You still need a responsive website, a privacy statement, reasonable website performance, and a host of other factors in place for all of this to work. Google, particularly, punishes websites that do not behave well across all device types (desktops, tablets, and smartphones). That's what Responsive means: your website responds well to the device it is being viewed on. Try looking at your current website using your smartphone. Does it require a magnifying glass to read the text, or does it resize and reshape itself to accomodate the much smaller window it has to operate in?
This can vary from days to months. We have seen it happen in every time frame from ten days to eighteen months.
It also depends on what search words you are hoping will drive visitors to your website. If you own a plumbing services company, a search for the word "plumbing" is unlikely to make your website appear, but "fix a broken pipe in lower manhattan" might, if you have a blog posting whose title is similar to those search words, and your Google-verified business location is in lower manhattan. Posting blog postings for very specific and narrow topics doesn't throw a wide net over many search words, but it is likely to provide a very good match when a narrow search is made. This is called a Long Keyword Strategy, and is how small companies compete with large companies for a piece of the available market.
Proceed with the rest of the answer, below, assuming you have a Long Keyword Strategy.
Many factors — perhaps in the hundreds — decide how soon and how early in sesrch results your business appears, but there is a small handful of factors that make up the vast majority of influences:
Are you competing globally?
If your business's competitors are beyond driving distance from your business, it is likely you are competing with hundreds or even thousands of other providers. This bifurcation puts your business into one of two categories: (a) local, and (b) global, roughly speaking. For example, if your business delivers fresh-cooked pizza to your customers, you most definitely have a local business in the context of the web, and you will likely have perhaps a few dozen competitors at most. On the other hand, if you develop business productivity software, you are likely competing with companies around the world. Usually, competing for search globally is orders of magnitude more difficult than competing locally.
Do your main competitors have a strong Internet presence?
Sometimes, a local service or product provider does not have any real competition on the web. Their competitors have websites that are years old, their websites are difficult to use on cellphones, and have a fractured or non-existent social media presence. In such cases, a reasonably well organized effort on the web can put your company at the top of search results relatively quickly. That lucky situation happens in about 5 - 10% of the cases, but even that percentage is shrinking as more and more small companies get savvy about their web presence.
Is your website Responsive?
Does your website behave well across all device types, from big desktop screens to tables to smart phones? If it does, Google and other search engines tend to display it earlier in search results. This has been a major factor since January 2014.
Is your business active on the Internet?
Fresh content -- both on your website and across your social media communities (Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, InstaGram, Pinterest, Linkedin, etc) -- tell search engines that your business is active and alive. This includes blog postings on your website, reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp, Bing and others, as well as links from related sites to yours.
As a general rule — and this is certainly not always the case — the higher your gross margin potential, the longer it takes to generate leads on the Web. We believe this is because the more money there is in a given market, the more competition there is to get the organic search traffic for it. Obvious as that might have been in the pre-Internet days, it is also a reality on the Internet today.
Consider these examples, at both ends of the scale:
- A person selling home-made jewelry at $99 a necklace that takes two hours to make and uses $25 of materials has a profit potential of $37 per hour.
- A corporate attorney who charges $550 per hour.
- A software provider that sells software licenses for $100,000 per client.
You can see how the level of competition — from almost none to intense — contrasts across such markets. Almost no marketing dollars will be spent in the kitchen-table-made necklace market, but millions of dollars might be spent marketing a single high tech company's website.
Consider the space you are competing in, and you will be able to make an educated guess.
In the meantime, you can help your own cause by adding new, relevant and useful content to your website every day. However long it takes, once your website does begin to appear on page one of search results, it's much easier to keep it there by continuing to add fresh and useful content to your website every day.
We encourage our clients to add fresh content to their websites anytime they experience downtime.
One of the most common questions we hear is, why would I pay you a monthly subscription when I can get a website for free — or almost free — from a hosting company?
Every business is unique, and a one-size-fits-all approach cannot deliver your unique message to the world. At Scanlan and Associates, we sculpt your uniqueness into the web presence we build for you. We take the time to perform every step carefully, with personal attention to what makes your business value different — and more attractive — than your competitors'.
Any company offering free or almost-free websites can't provide the kind of support you get from us. Perhaps more importantly, such mass-service website providers take several years to catch up with each new significant development on the Web. They can't make changes to an infrastructure under thousands of websites easily. A significant change in how search engines, for example, match search terms with content on the Web, may necessitate a fundamental change to your website. Mass website providers cannot do this safely to hundreds of thousands of websites without years of testing and preparation.
At Scanlan and Associates, because we have a small, select set of clients, we can move much more quickly. We understand each of our clients' websites intimately and individually. For example: Within a few weeks of Google mandating Responsive websites for inclusion in search results, we began offering it to our new clients, and including it for all existing clients. We upgraded each website one at a time, before moving on to the next one.
Mass web providers, simply because of their size, cannot provide personalized technical service. Every time you call them for support, you get to talk to a different person — likely an inexperienced, first level employee, and certainly one who does not know your business — and you will be offered a scripted response. They don't have the time to learn about your business, meet you in person, or call you personally when a great opportunity emerges.
If you consider your Web presence to be a strategic part of your business success, a free or almost-free website on its own won't meet your needs. For the price of a monthly telephone service, you can have a complete Web presence — not just a website — from us, and still retain full control over your content and intellectual property.
Still, if you feel you want to go the cheap route, two such services are www.moonfruit.com and www.wix.com. Hosting companies like GoDaddy.com, bluehost.com and hostgator.com each offers an off-the-shelf website service you can take a look at. After you've taken a look at those options, we know you'll return to us for the Real Deal.
The short answer is no. No company can guarantee that. At least, for the long term they can't.
Some marketing companies will offer to get you to Page One of search results within a specific time frame, but they will use what are called "Black Hat" methods to do so. Such Black Hat methods are designed to trick search engines into believing your website is more important that it is by creating artificial in-bound links, bogus articles, keyword stuffing, and many, many other methods. It might work for a while, but only up to when search engines catch up to the practice, at which point your whole website will get black-listed.
At Scanlan & Associates, we build a web presence that is fully transparent to search engines. That includes a Google+ business page, and a website foundation that makes it easy for you, our client, to add content like blog postings, articles, customer testimonials, White Papers, videos and images, all of which help search engines understand what is on your site. This authentic way of adding content usually takes longer — but not always — for your website to begin appearing early in search results, but when it does, it is because of the valuable content that is interesting to your website visitors.
You have control over when it happens
In reality, you have control over how successful your content is in appearing early in search results. The more numerous, valuable and interesting your blog postings are, the more likely a search engine like Google or Bing will be able to match search words with one of them. It's that simple. If you have fifty, relevant, interesting and valuable blog postings on your website, you have fifty "shots at winning", just like if you had fifty different lottery tickets, you are — roughly speaking — fifty times more likely to win than if you only had one.
If you add content every day, can we guarantee that you appear at the top of search results? No. There are so many factors, including how much effort your competitors are putting into it, how big your market is, does your market use search, your location, etc.. But your good and regular content coupled with the rock solid web foundation we build for you, give you the best chance possible. Other than spending millions of dollars to overwhelm the space with your content.
It's a long term project. You plant good content in your website a few times a week — every day if you can — and over time you will have a forest of content. Time x Content = Success.
No. But it covers just about everything else.
Actual blogging — the base material for much of Search Engine Optimization — is done by the client. We do, however, create the environment to maximize the effect of all content creation by our client. This includes a complete and verifiable Google+ integration with both the website and the blog content. This means, among other things, our clients blog postings, when they appear in search results, display with a profile picture of our client beside them. This is just a tiny part of the whole project, but plays an important role in how Google and other search engines are attracted to our client's content.
We do offer a blogging service, but most price-sensitive clients — the typical small business owners we support every day — prefer to do the time-consuming task of blogging themselves. Being the subject matter experts in their field of business, they are already in the best possible position to write the high-value, original content that is favored by search engines and visitors to their website.
The monthly subscription does not cover the creation of blogging content, but it covers just about everything else, including the complete implementation and roll-out of the new website.
The cost of installing, developing and rolling out the website, together with all the social media hooks, external pages and internal pages (About us, Contact us, Google Maps integration), Google Analytics installation, is all amortized over many years. In other words, we do a lot of work up-front, and spread the cost of it over many years. The majority of the monthly cost is a reflection of the up-front work we do to get you on the Web. In addition to the up-front implementation, we continue to serve you and your Web presence in a number of ways, for as long as you keep your subscription active: Support calls and email, daily website and data backups, security upgrades and fixes, theme and component licenses, hosting, email account hosting (if you opt for that - it's included), and dozens of other elements. All of this goes towards increasing the chances of your website appearing earlier in search results.
For your monthly subscription you get a complete Web presence, without the risk of having to "buy" a website. We are so confident you will be happy with the result, we don't ask you to sign-up for a minimum number of payments. We know you will be with us for a long time. Neither do we nickel-and-dime you to death for support calls. Some months you won't need any one-on-one support, and other times you might need hours of support to get through a change you would like to make or an addition you need to put on the website.
Your website is guaranteed to work on any mainstream device, from iPhones to huge desktop screens, and to behave well on all major browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Epiphany and others). Some website features will behave necessarily differently on a desktop than they will on a smartphone, but we take advantages of each. For example, auto-click-dial of a phone number makes sense on a smartphone, but not on a desktop, while full horizontal menus will display on a desktop, but will appear as a vertical selection on a smartphone. It all depends on the device and screen "real estate" available to the viewer. The technical term for it is Responsive, and since January 2014, Google has mandated Responsive it as a must-have website behavioral characteristic.
You get all of that, and much more, for your monthly subscription.
Our client — that's you, if you are our client — owns all of the content on the website.
If you find a better web solution than the one we offer, you can copy the content over to the new solution provider, and continue with their service.
You will always own your own domain name (for example: myfancystore.com), all of the content you created, and even the content we helped you create, such as the About Us page, or any product or service description. The only part we own is the hosting service.
Our client also retains full ownership of the Google+ account, and all of the postings they have created, even though we help get our client set up and running.
Each monthly subscription pays for the following calendar month. A client can cancel the subscription at any time, and the website will remain live up to the last day of that month of coverage, at which point it will be placed offline. So, for example, if the last monthly subscription you paid was on July 17, and you canceled the subscription a week or two later, the service would continue until August 17, at which time we would place the website in offline status.
We won't let your website go offline without talking to your first. If there is an outage in PayPal, or an expired card, or some other unanticipated technical issue that stops the monthly subsciption from going through, we will contact you, although we understand PayPal will contact you first, to resolve any issue.
We are so confident you will like our service, we believe you will be with us for a long time to come. With a competent web presence partner by your side, we know that the only risk to us is that your business must close its doors for reasons outside your control. So, we don't expect to ever have to place a website offline. We have never had to do it yet.
No. Each client pays only the monthly subscription price for the website. The first subscription payment is made when the client is satisfied which website template is the one they want as a base for the new website. The subscription payment repeats on the same day every month, for as long as the client wishes the website to remain active. And that's it. There's no lump sum to pay when we go live, or after a period of time. The fixed monthly subscription amount covers everything, including some costs we incur (themes, zoom-in module, backup service, hosting charges).
There is no minimum period of subscription.
We have made it as simple as possible for our client, so there no risk, no delay, and there is a minimal impact on our client's cash flow. Most web providers will ask you for an up-front payment in the thousands of dollars. We don't ask for that because we have eight intense years of experience in delivering web solutions to our clients. We're very good at predicting how much work it is going to take, how long it will take, and what exactly we will need to do to get you on the Web. And we know you will stay with our service so, in the long run, we'll get paid.