What is your free business website costing you?
- May 23, 2016
- Posted by: T.J. Alcock
- Category: Blog
Let’s be honest, you didn’t start thinking about getting a website for your business because you wanted a stunning, free website. Your desire probably came after someone asked you about your business website, most likely a customer or friend. You then realized that a website could be bringing you more customers, more transactions and more opportunities to interact with your audience. The Google search began; Custom Business website, Professional Business Website, Free Business Website, Cheap Small Business Website, Affordable Business Website… As I’m sure you noticed the prices range quite a bit. At any rate, a quality website is the end result of many hours, days, weeks and sometimes months of careful development and coding. So why do popular website builders say you can have a quick and easy website in a couple hours?
Site builders like Wix, Squarespace and GoDaddy Builder cannot deliver you anything more than just a website..maybe with a few fancy add-ons if you’re lucky. However, choosing to develop your website on an open source platform like WordPress can give you what you are really looking for; sales, leads and infinite marketing power that can bring you NEW customers who are looking for products and services like yours. Yes, there are always at least 2 sides to every story therefore, we will be breaking down the most important factors of a business website.
Custom Domain / URL
With generic website builders you’ll get something like this: www.sitebuilder.com/#!PageName|c34r5. Try remembering that address! Could you imagine telling a customer to go to your website with that domain, or trying to squeeze all that text on a business card? With a professionally built website you will be able to choose your own domain. If your business name is Bob’s Pizza then your domain name can be www.BobsPizza.com.
Note: Sometimes site builders will let you have a custom domain name, at an added cost. However, it is not truly a custom domain. Your custom site name is just re-directed to the original, long and complicated domain name. Additionally, some site builders won’t let you place a redirect on blog or sales pages. A definite downer when you need to tell a customer about a certain product on your website or want them to read your latest blog article.
“You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Do you want your potential customers looking at your business website and seeing you built it with a cheap website builder template? If you’re not willing to invest in your business’s website, what does that say about your products or services, are you cutting corners on quality elsewhere? With a professionally built, custom site you put your information where you need it to be seen and create what is best for your business. Best of all there is no outside branding or logos placed on your site (ex. Website built by GoDaddy Website Builder. Get Your FREE WEBSITE HERE!). With a custom website, the only logos that go on your website are your own or businesses of your choosing.
You would be hard pressed to find a professional web developer in Lakeland or beyond who would
let you walk away without a mobile responsive website. I already know what you’re going to say. So let me go ahead and say it: Yes, the DIY website builder templates available to build your own site are labeled as “mobile responsive.” However your page loading times will be creepy crawler, slow because the layouts are bogged down by useless graphics and excessive coding. This is a real turnoff for mobile users especially when a visit to your business website takes forever to load and causes them to burn up their cellphone data plans – definitely not a great user experience. Tip: Google knocks off ranking points for bad user experiences.
Costs of a Free Business Website
Chances are, the only reason you considered going with a cheap website builder for your business website was because you thought the costs were too high with a custom website. Although, upon getting started with a ‘free’ website platform many business owners will realize the need to upgrade to a premium package. A premium package normally falls around $30 a month, or $360 a year. Forever. Oh and that cost, it’s basically a rental fee. If you no longer want to do business with that company or perhaps can’t make your monthly payment, you are forbidden to download or backup your site to a new server or host.
What if you absolutely wanted or needed to stop working with the company? You would need to hire a professional to extract all available information, and build a new site from the ground up. If you have an ecommerce or database site, you would lose all your sales records and cataloged information too. In contrast, if you work with a professional web developer to build your website on a platform like WordPress you pay for the site one time and you own it, with full control. Meaning you can recoup your initial investment and use your money for other things, like a boat. Haha just kidding; your money is probably better spent on marketing for your business albeit, that’s not as fun as a boat!
SEO – A.K.A. Search Engine Optimization
Some website builders use Flash or excessive hidden coding, a big no-no for SEO, even Google recommends against it. If the biggest name in search engine history recommends against it, it’s probably a very bad idea. These DIY website builders also limit meta descriptions, on page SEO practices, indexing keywords and verifying your site with Webmaster Tools (which can help monitor your site’s performance). Without good SEO practices, searchers will not be able to find your website and what good is website if no one can find it? That $30/month is turning out to be more expensive than you thought, costing you not only cash but lost customers.
Setting Your Business Apart
The best (we’re using that term loosely) website builder is boasting 10’s of millions of users but only offers a few hundred generic templates. We’ll let you do the math on that, but obviously someone else, probably a competitor is going to be using the same website. How’s that for branding? If you truly want to stand out, you need a business website that is tailored to your brand and developed by a professional.
Remember all those millions of users? How many employees do you think those website builder companies have? Enough to answer everyone’s questions… in English? Don’t forget that technical support is also a bonus feature and you’ll need to upgrade your plan if you want help. Think no one cares? TBA Marketing cares. Think of us as your in-house marketing team, that you don’t have to pay employee taxes on. We are always a phone call, email, live chat or video conference away. When your business is having a problem, we work with you to find the best solution. We can help you discover opportunities that you didn’t even think were available or know were possible. Opportunities that could change the future of your business. We only succeed when our clients succeed.
Well there you have it; the nitty gritty of cheap website builders vs professionally built open source websites. It’s pretty obvious that if you’re building a business website that you should always go with the latter. On the other hand, if you’re looking to start personal blog, why not try out a free website builder? What do you have to lose?
Before sign off we’ll give you one more piece of advice, from one professional to the next. Just because someone says they will build you a website
does not mean they are a professional. There are scammers out there charging premium prices for websites they built using WIX, GoDaddy’s Website Builder and Squarespace platforms. Appalling, we know but it does happen. Be careful and remember to always ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable with your web developer or marketing partner. The reputation of your business depends on it.