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Why Buy American Makes Sense for U.S. Websites and SEO

A big disadvantage to working with foreign developers is the inability to easily communicate your objectives for the site so that you’re assured of receiving what you want.

We’ve come across several situations recently where we’ve been asked to host, edit or optimize foreign-built websites and have gained enough experience from these situations to advise our clients, “Just say NO, when it comes to having your website built overseas.”

In some cases, the clients have yielded to corporate pressure to find the cheapest web developer, and ended up working with a U.S.-based firm whose developers reside in India, Malaysia, Poland or Ukraine.

At other times, we’re working with the U.S. affiliate of a foreign conglomerate, oftentimes a German, French, Italian or Japanese company, that insisted that the U.S. division have their website built in the motherland.

Either way, in each case, the resulting headaches were enough that we and our clients agreed that when it comes to website development and SEO, it’s always best to buy American. Here are the most common issues we’ve seen:

Improper use of CMS

Many companies have developed preferences for a particular content management system in which they want their website built.

In some cases, the CMS chosen is one that integrates well with third-party CRM systems, like Salesforce. Or, it just happens to be the CMS with which the marketing team has had prior experience.

The point of using a CMS is to create easy-to-use page templates that enable non-developers to edit much of the content on the website.

But, put in the hands of a foreign developer, that may not be what you get. One client found that all the content of their foreign-built WordPress site was hard-coded into the page templates, which now requires an experienced developer to make any site edits. A big disadvantage to working with foreign developers is the inability to easily communicate your objectives for the site so that you’re assured of receiving what you want. Language and time zone barriers can make direct communication with the developers near impossible.

Nonsensical design  

Another issue we’ve seen is poor design by current U.S. standards. In some cases, the websites are over-designed with so much going on that site visitors would become frustrated trying to find what they need. In other cases, the design mimics what the current navigational or graphic design trends are in the country where the developer resides, without knowledge of the expectations of an American audience.

The result is a website that looks like a foreign site trying to fit in an American market. This becomes a particularly disturbing result when the company that purposefully established a U.S. business to serve American customers reinforces its foreign branding instead of developing a website that looks like and acts like the U.S. division.

Dishonesty when it comes to SEO

Trust me, I know how hard it can be to resist the temptation of working with a much less expensive alternative when you’re being bombarded with emails or phone calls from foreign website development firms, or U.S. firms that use foreign developers. I get those emails and phone calls too.

But, when they tell you they will deliver an optimized website, they’re lying.  How do I know? Because SEO no longer entails just adding keywords into a few fields on your website. Google uses 200 factors to decide where to rank your site and half of those are related to content marketing efforts and link building, areas that are addressed over time after a new site goes live.

As for On-Page SEO, unless they’re writing your content for you, they’re likely not fulfilling all the requirements of today’s standards for SEO.  So, put your wallet back in your pocket.

No help when you need it

The final issue to consider is who will fix the site when it breaks or gets hacked. Too often, businesses contracting with a foreign developer make no provisions for who will maintain the site, install security updates, fix functionality that can break over time with CMS upgrades that are not compatible, or just edit the site when they need to make content updates.

And, once a problem arises, fixing it might not be as simple as expected. If you’re no longer working with the original developer, you can run into much higher costs for another web developer to fix someone else’s work, particularly when the site structure and coding isn’t what the new developer is accustomed to seeing.

The upshot is that for companies that work so hard to protect their brands and the way they market to their audiences, the worst thing you can do is let go of that control when it comes to your website. The result isn’t worth the initial cost savings if it means getting a site that doesn’t speak well to your customers and prospects, isn’t built for better performance on Google, and can’t easily be updated and maintained.

If you want all that, you need to buy American.

For assistance with your next website redesign project from a company that employs knowledgeable and experienced American website marketing experts, contact Pilot Fish at 330-666-5164 ext. 2102.

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