Why are good Web designers and SEO “experts” so hard to find?

This year has been one of great disappointment in finding and working with good web designers and SEO advisers. It seems we are going through another cycle when the ‘techies’ are disconnecting with businesses.

Why do I say this?

Poor responses to website tenders

Last year I put out a tender for one of my clients to build a new website. The responses were so poor I went out a second time and eventually found someone who has done a good job.

In the process I had

  • Tenders that made no attempt to address the brief
  • Failure to meet deadlines
  • Being precious – not wanting to be briefed as a group

SEO advisers can’t – or won’t – talk in plain English

About six times this year I have been recommended a good person to work with who is great at SEO (search engine optimisation – the process that helps Google and other search engines find you and rank you highly).

Each one has come in and given their views on a client’s website/blog or mine, given a completely different verdict about the issues – and criticised what everyone else has said or is doing.

Everyone sounded convincing initially but the more I delved, the more replies were contradictory or impossible to understand.

The SEO market is very secret

I suspect one of the biggest problems is that I really want to understand the technical side of what advisers are recommending. That will help me to do social media more effectively. But those who are technical don’t want to share their knowledge, because inevitably I will gain more skills and not need them to help us on some things in the future.

This is short-sighted. The rules of the internet are changing daily – as fast as my clients and I understand today’s rules, we will need help on tomorrow’s.

It was around 15 years ago when every ‘normal’ business started to realise they needed a website. What a depressing time that was. Business people did not have the language to ask the questions of designers, let alone understand the replies. As a result the market was flooded with appalling websites in Flash with bouncing balls, gimmicky introductions and distracting games.

As everyone began to use websites more, business leaders started to take control of the website brief – and we now have sites that deliver business results rather than satisfy a designer’s ego. We are in this same place now on SEO.

For my own business, I’ve decided to get technical to understand the process so I can then help my clients deliver results in plain business language. In the meantime, there is a massive market opportunity for any ‘techie’ who is really business-focused.

Victoria Tomlinson is founder and owner of Harrogate-based PR consultancy, Northern Lights. A former director of Ernst & Young, she started her career as a graduate trainee for Plessey and later with Bradbury Wilkinson, the banknote printers, travelling around the world to sell banknotes to foreign governments. She joined Arthur Young as part of their start-up marketing team and was made a director of client services on the management committee and managing a 100-strong division. Victoria sits on the boards of Bradford University School of Management, Northern Ballet Theatre and Common Purpose North Yorkshire. She is a Prince’s Trust mentor.