The Benefits of Working with a Local Design Agency

The Benefits of Working with a Local Design Agency

The benefits of working with a local design agency are many, but I’ll admit it – in nearly 20 years in digital, I’ve had the pleasure of working with people all over the world. Database consultants and clients in Canada, designers in The Netherlands. CMS experts in Australia, plugin developers in the U.S.A. and development teams in Brazil, China, India and some in Russia too. I ran one project that alone spanned 26 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with websites in 15 different languages including Arabic and Greek with close colleagues being Italians working in Switzerland.

But nothing beats working with a local design agency. Why?

As a client, one thing has so many benefits – and that’s simply… being local.

Working in the Local Time Zone

The first benefit is that you and your local design agency are, very obviously, in the same time zone. Anywhere in the United Kingdom, you’re in the same time zone as your design team, so it goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning so that it can be really appreciated.

When I had a dev team in China I could be in the office at 9am in the morning but it would be 3pm for them. Just as I was starting my day, so they were finishing theirs. So there was an overlap of just a couple of hours. If you add into the mix your flexible working hours and daylight savings, then there can be times when there’s the possibility of not being around at the same time as your team. There might be days when you can’t see or speak with them, so it really depends on how crucial your project is.

At the other end of the scale, there have been team members in the United States and that’s a country spanning a number of time zones. For Brits, east coast USA is OK, with Boston, New York and Washington D.C. all being just 5 hours behind. However, clients in San Francisco are 8 hours behind, so planning a meeting with them, you’ll catch them as they get into the office just as you’re supposed to be leaving.

So, in the grand scheme of things, having a local web designer/developer, SEO, PPC or graphic design team is just brilliant.

How Local is Local?

So, by time zone standards, Lands End and John O’ Groats are on the same time. The only problem is that they’re at opposite ends of the country. Surely you can get more local than that?

And that is another thing – exactly how local is local?

I live in the suburbs of my town and within a mile or two are a few pubs. The nearest one I’ve not set foot in for years. It’s not my cup of tea. Then there are a few more mediocre ones, a really nice pub and then “my local”, The Prince of Wales (Farnborough not Fleet). My pub of choice is 2 miles as the crow flies but nearly 3 miles by road. It’s less than 10 minutes drive there or a 40 min walk. That, to me, is local.

When Clever Marketing were based in Woking, Surrey, that was about 15 miles away and a 30 min drive by car, so that’s local. Now that we’re all in Farnborough it’s hyper local.

It’s the time that it takes to get to your design team that’s important – there’s the initial meeting to thrash out the design brief, then the additional project meetings when things need clarification in person and also the training sessions, inspecting the work, sending design proofs over, delivering finished product etc. By being local to your creative advisors, you can be at each other’s doors in no time. In Farnborough, we have a mainline to Waterloo, so the capital is less than 40 minutes away. What’s more, clients can save on “London prices” because we have lower overheads and no table-football or spacehoppers in our design studio.

All that said, I visited an SEO client in Essex once. Whilst they are on the other side of London, the trip around the M25 should only be about 90 minutes each way. So, that’s nearly half the working day spent travelling and you need to decide if that’s OK to maintain on a regular basis. If you’re taking on the services of a top digital marketing agency like Clever, then that should be well worthwhile.

Your Local Digital Marketing Agency in Hampshire

Our agency was based in Woking until November 2018 but, due to the disruption from the massive town centre projects, we relocated our digital marketing agency in Farnborough, Hampshire. Still on the main Portsmouth to London Waterloo railway line, we are still highly accessible. The Reading-to-Gatwick train line also passes through our town and we are on the M3, A30 and A331. We’re a proper local digital agency.

Guildford too, is close to our marketing HQ, within just half an hour’s drive, as are Aldershot, Alton, Bracknell, Camberley, Farnham, Fleet and Church Crookham, Guildford, Reading… So, as well as London, the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey are all really close.

The advantages of a local agency are:

  • The speed at which you can reach each other.
  • The costs of travel and delivery.
  • Local knowledge (Great for local SEO).
  • Honesty and transparency.

Clever Marketing - Hampshire SEO, PPC & Digital Agency.It really pays to shop local even for your digital marketing services. You can talk SEO and PPC with your agency and actually look them in the eye. We like that.

Looking for a digital agency? Then call Clever Marketing on 01276 534 680, or fill in our easy contact form for a friendly discussion about your next digital project.

Paul Mackenzie Ross
Digital Marketing Manager

What an automated audit will not pick up

Website Audits: What an Automated Audit Won’t Pick Up

Website Audits – piece of cake, right?

All you have to do is visit Hubspot or WebsiteOptimization.com etc. or any one of the many numbers of websites offering a free website audit. You enter your web address, press a button and you’ve got a fully-fledged, audit of your website, detailing all the things you need to do fix it. For free.

Nope. Not quite.

They’re all good, these free website audit tools. They look at performance, mobile-friendliness, speed, SEO and security… But when you submit the URL of your business’ website you get an automated audit… and it’s not all there, we know.

Now that’s fine, nobody’s perfect, no tool is perfect, after all, these automated audits are like Swiss Army knives – they have a lot of things to do and some obscure things too. And if it’s not 100% then that’s OK.

But when you rely purely on the results of an automated audit to give you everything a webmaster needs in order to be able to optimise a website, then you’re not getting the full picture.

Let’s look at a couple of simple things an automated audit will not pick up…

XML Sitemaps

Take XML sitemaps for instance, they are essential for any website. Just as the HTML sitemap is a page for users to glance at your site structure, so the XML sitemap is submitted to the search engines. It is the defacto, full-fat map of your site. The search engines crawl and index your site based on what they read in the XML sitemap and so these files are crucial to digital health and performance.

One tool that we used crawled the URL we input before spitting out the response that we had no XML sitemap.

Popppycock.

Why? Because the well-respected top-ten website audit tool is programmed to find the sitemap at /sitemap.xml

However, with the website being in WordPress the Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress likes to use /sitemap_index.xml and then include all the other aspects of your website as child sitemaps. The website audit tool didn’t identify this and thus failed this aspect of the audit.

It’s only experienced website design agencies, like Clever Marketing in Hampshire, who have years of experience in web design & development and can spot this straight away and audit your website correctly.

Website Security

Another automated website audit we ran showed that security was lacking. Why? Because there was no Secure Certificate and the site was not showing up HTTPS at the start of its URL.

Now an SSL cert is really important to securing a website but it is not the be-all and end-all of website security options. We had the login details for the website and were able to see that there was security plugin installed and activated. This plugin performed a number of best practices for securing a website beyond just SSL.

An automated web audit cannot tell if you’ve taken such security measures to protect your website such as blocking repeated login attempts, brute force logins, 404 probing, script injections etc. Only a dev, marketer or agency with those login details, experience and insights can spot whether you’ve taken those precautions or not. And if you haven’t we can make sure that you have those extra layers of security for your website.

Summary

These are just a couple of very simple examples of what an automated website audit wont pick up on. And these are just some of the very basic aspects that are vital to your website’s health. There are plenty of other examples too; such as when an automated audit suggests you minify your JavaScript and CSS when you already are, etc.

What this means is that a Clever Marketing agency like ours is best placed to conduct a proper website audit. Additionally, we have access to some tools that are more cost-effective when you do your website audit through us. We check for broken links, missing meta descriptions etc. We provide a full featured audit and will fix all the things that will make your website great again.

We can also conduct SEO audits too.

How Much Does a Website Audit Cost?

If you do it yourself, your website audit can be “free”. However, as a top Hampshire SEO agency, we understand that it’s the analysis of the audit results and taking the appropriate actions that takes the time and indirectly costs your business money! So give us a call and, depending on the scale and depth of the audit you wish for us to conduct, we’ll do all that “heavy lifting” for you and provide you with a fair price for our consultancy.


Clever Marketing - Hampshire Digital Agency: SEO, PPC consultancy, website auditsCall us if your site needs to be faster, more secure.

Tell us if your website needs be seen in the search engines.

Let us know if your landing pages need to be converting more. Based in Hampshire, SEO, PPC and lead generation are our thing. We’re on 01276 534 680 or you can reach us via our contact form.