Free Website Pros & Cons

Recently I had a conversation with a business owner who was wondering why they were not getting any referrals from their website.
It did not take long to establish that the website was ranking number 95 for the search terms they would like their website to be found for.
Yes page 9 for google search for the main search terms. The industry they are involved is not particularly competitive and it should be no problem to rank for a number of search terms.
The response from the business owner was. “The Website was free so it hasn’t cost me anything”

This is a puzzling response as the website had been established for almost 12 months. They had not received a single enquiry from their website. Was their “Free Website” a good investment even considering it had cost them nothing to establish?

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If it cost nothing, and creates nothing is that a good investment?
Did you expect to obtain business from the website? How much business $1,000, $10,000 or $100,000?

If you received zero revenue the whole exercise was pointless and it did cost your business. It cost you the amount of business you were planning to received from referrals from your website. It cost you time establish the “Free website”

It cost you time. It may take another 6 to 12 months longer to establish your business because the business owner continues to think “free Stuff” is what their business should be built on.

Even companies that do big business online struggle to be noticed by Google users. The Web, after all, is home to some 120 million Internet domains and tens of billions of indexed pages. But every company, big or small, can draw more Google traffic by using search-engine optimization – SEO, for short.

Free Websites Come at a Price!

  • Although it is possible to get a free website, usually it requires your consent to the host offering this service to place business ads or linking back to their website.
  • A website that is bringing in business to your business is an asset. You cannot sell the website as part of your business as often with “Free Websites” you do not legally own it.
  • Facebook can be a great way to get business for local businesses, but do not be totally reliant on just one source of your customers. You do not own the Facebook page. You cannot sell it.
  • There is always risk Facebook will change their algorithm, which has been done before and it may decimate your business.
  • This is one of the biggest draw backs to the free concept as this take away from the professionalism of your site and makes it obvious that it was free to your site visitors.
  • Many free site offers don’t allow you to use your own domain, instead they only allow your site on their subdomain. For example: freesite.com/your-community-name. To use your own domain, you usually have to pay a fee.

 

Stunning Websites

Even though the templates may look “stunning” before you customize them, what often happens is that once you’ve gone in and placed all your text and images, the site starts looking way less professional than what it first did when you saw the untouched template. These templates were put together by web designers who have the tools and design experience to make it look right. It may come down to whether or not you have an eye for web design, and if you have the proper software to do good image manipulation when you need it.

The end results can look obviously amateur, and your site visitors will know that you made it yourself – this can have a negative impact on your overall community image.

  • Learning Curve. Although there have been marked improvements on the building interfaces used when putting together free sites yourself, there can still be a learning curve to accomplish certain tasks, like proper image manipulation and optimization which may be a little daunting for those who are not very tech savvy.
  • Your site may end up looking like hundreds, if not thousands of other sites out there that have used the same template as yours.
  • Most professionals are very busy running the day-to-day operations of their business and simply don’t have the time to learn to build their own site or make it look as professional as they would like to look without investing a lot of time and effort into the process.
  • The companies behind the free site offers have to make money somehow or they would eventually just go out of business. To achieve this, you will find that there are many fees and upgrades that are not obvious until once you get in there and start making decisions and selections.
  • Are you locked into a contract? If so, how long? And who ends up owning your website and domain? Can you get access to your domain if you decide to back out?
  • When you are not upgrading to the paid service, what level of support can you expect when you need it? Is it free or paid and if so, how long is the free support?
  • SEO – Search engine optimization is critical in today’s online marketing world. With a free template site, you may be limited to the amount of optimization & customization needed for effective SEO which could in turn limit your ability to get ranked high in search engines should you engage in a search engine optimization campaign.

There are many things for you to consider and you may not be aware of before heading into a free service. For those who are a little more tech savvy with interface and image manipulation and have the time and effort to put together their own site and aren’t too concerned about looking more unique to others already out there, then the free site offer may be for you.

For those who just don’t have the time, expertise and patience to try making a site on their own, and need the extra design experience of a web designer to make it look professional and more unique, as well as the need for extra functionality to help make the site more engaging, then a custom site from a design firm may be the route for you.
SME Design constantly is getting asked to renovate exist websites to get them to be indexed and found in Google searches.

At least you can get a free consultation from SME Design. We will point you in the right direction.

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