WordPress agencies and freelancers need to deal with a wide variety of topics from performance to positioning to SEO and social media. We have nine questions for our agency partner Sven Jagata from Kreative Kommunikation: How does he deal with such demands? And what are his best tips for clean project planning?
The right infrastructure as a basis
Sven, you recently moved a WooCommerce shop to us because the store was mentioned on TV and you were expecting significantly more traffic. What is your experience with RAIDBOXES?
I'm hosted at RAIDBOXES in the past and can only say that, as always, it went absolutely smoothly. Your migration service alone took a lot of work off my hands. In addition, you gave me a few tips on how to make the site even more performant.
I chose RAIDBOXES because I'm 100 percent sure that I can rely on an absolutely professional and, above all, reliable infrastructure for my customer projects. I have a good feeling about it for myself and especially for my customers at all times.
Apart from our managed hosting, how do you go about making a WordPress website as performant as possible?
The motto above all is: "Less is more". This means paying scrupulous attention to image sizes during development and only installing the absolutely necessary plugins. Furthermore, I've had excellent experiences with the PrestoPlayer in connection with bunny.net as a streaming server and CDN, especially with integrating videos.
Another example of what you've created with WordPress is a knowledge platform. Which plugins did you use here?
Online courses for overcoming anxiety are sold on this platform. In consultation with our client, we used Tutor LMS for this purpose. With a connection to WooCommerce and in connection with germanized. As with every project at RAIDBOXES so far, it was really fun to do the development directly in the BOX. With those of kind of loading times, it's simply no longer necessary to develop locally.
Customer communication and guidance
How do you generally proceed when planning a new client project? How do you find out what exactly the clients need?
I've prepared a document in which all relevant points are asked exactly for this purpose. Above all, the expectations of the website must be described very precisely. Consultation with the client always comes first for me. Even if it means that the project becomes smaller. Moreover, I have the client's business described to me in such detail that I can really put myself in their shoes.
My recommendations are therefore always made from the perspective of "What would I do in the customer's place? This approach has absolutely proven itself and ultimately leads to the fact that all parties involved know exactly: what's expected of them? Who has to deliver what by when?
During development, I make sure that communication is as close as possible. Even if there isn't much news to report, a "sign of life" is worth its weight in gold. The longer a client is in the dark, the more uncertain they become as to whether they made the right decision in awarding us the project. After all, from their point of view, a lot of "magic" is already happening, i.e. things they don't understand and don't need to understand. A jour fixe is balm for the customer's soul. It builds trust, even if it takes time.
You not only help your clients by creating their websites, you also assist with the positioning in the market. What are the most important first measures you can recommend?
In particular with freelancers, the irksome word "why" is often in the foreground:
- Why does the client do what they does as a self-employed person?
- Why is the business in its current state?
- Why should people buy from or hire them over other people?
After answering these questions, the focus is usually on creating a persona. These are all questions and tasks you're not doing for entertainment purposes, without them a target-oriented positioning is simply not possible. Only once this step is complete does the focus shift to the market competitors to then tailor the products and/or services to the persona and the market situation.
Admittedly, this is a time-consuming process. But if you follow it consistently, you'll end up with a tailor-made strategy with a high potential for success. If you want to reach everyone, you'll ultimately reach no one. Creating this understanding in the client is often the most difficult task.
You have customers from different sectors. How do you manage to put yourself in the shoes of the respective target group?
Several circumstances probably come together here. On the one hand, in my professional career and in my now 50 years of life, I've been able to carry out many different activities and get to know many sectors. On the other hand, I specifically visit the client's premises, especially at the beginning of a client dialogue. This allows me to develop a feel for the business. Furthermore, asking questions and listening are key to being able to put myself in the client's shoes.
SEO needs preparatory work
Many companies would like to invest more in SEO and social media. Which initial measures bring a relatively big boost for visibility for a low expenditure?
Search engine optimization is always a marathon and never a sprint. In my experience, it's essential to be clear at the beginning about what search engine optimization actually is. And what it is supposed to achieve. The ideas about this "sport" are sometimes wild – and unfortunately this tends to gets exploited shamelessly by some agencies. Like at the cheese counter, "a piece of SEO" is offered.
Without substantial preparatory work and strategy development, you can quickly end up working aimlessly. This wastes valuable time and money. If entrepreneurs are unsure how to start, or if they're not or only partially aware of the complex interrelationships, I recommend getting help from a consultant. At least at the beginning of the project. Keyword research is a significant factor here.
The optimization measures are carried out on this basis. If mistakes are made here – say by not taking into account the search intention or the competition – you may direct visitors to your site but they won't be interested in the products or services offered. Instead, they only want information, for example, and then disappear again immediately. Or despite putting in a lot of effort, you don't manage to make it into the top 10 on Google & Co.
Once the goals have been set, the keywords (search queries) have been selected and an at least concise plan of action has been drawn up, it is quite possible to do it yourself using appropriate plugins. I personally prefer the current version of Rank Math as an optimization plugin. However, you should always keep an eye on how you and your competitors' rankings are developing. Personally, I've been working with the Sistrix solution for years.
However, since this software isn't cheap either, it may be advisable to have an agency provide the developments during the project. In each individual case, it has to be decided which resource is more valuable for the entrepreneurs: time or money. One of the two must be used in any case. Two recommended measures that everyone can and should take themselves are setting up and maintaining a Google My Business account and seeking links from other websites. These can be suppliers, customers and business portals.
Social media: The right choice
What do you recommend and why: would you rather have one social media channel and do it properly or several right from the start?
It depends. Many forget the word "social" in "social media". Interaction is of the utmost importance. This means if simply don't feel comfortable on a platform even after several weeks, you're unlikely to be successfully active. Furthermore, the choice of platform is strongly dependent on the target group to be reached. It simply doesn't make sense to drive your butcher's cart to a market for vegans.
Then it depends on how much time you can or want to spend. That's why it's rather advisable to check exactly which channel is the right one. In order to gain initial experience on just one channel. One should also not disregard the familiarity of the service or products. The more unknown a product or service is, the more sensible it is to be present on social media channels, as you can proactively approach your target group here.
Shortly after the invention of the car, no one would have searched for a car in a search engine, but for a carriage or a horse. The same applies here: regardless of the size of the company, without a clear definition of the target group, an analysis of the competition, the market situation as well as a strategy, it's virtually impossible to be successful on the social web.
A few words about you and your agency?
Through my father's business, I began to deal with IT in general as early as the mid-90s. This involved setting up a company network and creating an industry software solution that didn't exist at the time. I was also entrusted with the design of sales brochures. Even at that time, the combination of creativity and technology was a great attraction for me. Shortly afterwards, I created my first website based on HTML.
Through learning in practice and regular further training, I became a generalist more or less by myself. Even when you're told from every direction that you MUST specialize. The experience with my clients is quite different here. My target group is individual and small businesses. And they appreciate the fact that they can turn to me just as much for the creation and expansion of their website as for questions about search engine optimization or social media. After all, small businesses are not in a position to hire their own agency for every task or problem.
For the past two years, I've been more and more involved with the mapping of sales processes in WordPress. In the meantime, I've developed various solutions for my clients. These include a ticketing system, a platform for online courses or the distribution of digital products and face-to-face seminars. When people ask me today whether I'll specialize in one of my areas in the future, the answer remains a definitive "no".
I burn for the variety of digital possibilities and have great fun continuing to educate myself day after day. I'm fully aware that there'll always be someone out there who can do the individual task better than me. As long as I also communicate this openly and clearly to my clients and prospects, I will never create false expectations that I cannot fulfil. The client always knows where they stand with me and my agency. For me, this – in addition to absolute reliability – is the key to a partnership at eye level.