At this point, many of these small business owners decide to self-design a website using a free website builder to cut cost. Unfortunately, this decision time and time again has come back to haunt many small businesses due to hidden costs, lack of professionalism, loss of ownership, and poor function.
Here are 5 reasons you should avoid free website builders altogether.
1. You don’t own your site.
One of the biggest issues with using a free website builder is that no matter what content you’ve created or special features you’ve added, you don’t own your website. You’re merely renting the space from a larger corporation.
Because of this, you run a high risk of having your website disappear altogether if the provider decides to remove it for terms of service, or if the company gets sold or acquired by another entity. It is also a sadly common occurrence that these sites decide, down the road, that they want to start charging for their previously free service – and it is at this point that they often start charging premium rates because they can take advantage of their captured audience.
Your website isn’t portable in any of these scenarios, because you are playing by someone else’s rules and conditions. There is a large likelihood of losing all your work with no legal standing to bring it back.
2. You don’t appear credible to search engines.
Did you know that search engines are often smart enough to pick up on whether or not you’re using a free website builder?
Free website builders send up red flags to search engines when they are combing through millions of websites to bring up data to a searcher. Even if the content on your website is fantastic, search engines can automatically assume your website built using a free service is not as credible as one that isn’t using a free service.
What this means is a serious downgrade in SEO – Search Engine Optimization – which is one of the key ways that companies bring in leads and generate new business. With fair to poor SEO, you will be seeing a lot less action on your website, no matter how your website actually looks and feels.
3. You don’t appear professional to clients.
Speaking of look and feel, your prospective clients which stumble across your website typically judge your website for the first time based on their initial emotional response to your website. How do you think it will look to them if your website is splattered with ads or branding for the free website builder you’re using?
Also, there is a good chance that the free website template that you love so much is already being used by thousands of other users. 99% of the time, free website builders don’t allow enough customization to really distinguish your website above the other competition using the same template. While users may not be able to articulate what it is about your website that seems off, the subconscious emotional response that users have to these types of websites is one of monotony – a reaction that does not bode well for developing new business.
4. You have limited support options (if any).
Most free website builders lack any kind of useful support service. Things happen. Mistakes are made, code is broken, versions are lost, functions go down. There will almost certainly be something that you will need external help with at one point or another during your website’s lifetime.
Unfortunately, free website builders rarely have any support service that is actually useful. Help videos and forums can, like any DIY fix-it project, often just make your problem worse, especially if you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of the digital world. With your website, specific personal attention is the only foolproof way to ensure that all of your hard work remains in-tact, and that your website down time is at an absolute minimum.
5. You have limited functionality.
Most free websites appear to offer countless add ons for your website: social media plug-ins, credit card processing options, shopping carts, video players. In reality, most of these services are both extremely limited and extremely over-priced (especially when it comes to monetary transactions).
Free websites actually aren’t that free at all when it comes to added functionality which you may desire. Many small businesses don’t realize this until well after they’ve spent weeks designing and developing their website template, and bite the bullet to pay monthly premiums for services they need. And really, at this point, you’ve already started to spend the money that you initially didn’t want to invest – and now you’re dealing with a much less desirable product.
The bottom line?
Free website builders are riddled with hidden challenges. The work you create is not your own, they do not appear credible to outside sources, they significantly dampen SEO potential, there is limited support at best, and any extra functionality above bare-bones minimums almost always costs a premium.
The money that you are trying to save in the start up of a website by using a free service almost always gets taken out someplace else down the line – in a rebuild, in needed functionality, in bringing in a private consultant to fix something that isn’t working, in the lack of income that you could be generating from a quality website that your free one just isn’t.
Invest in a quality website from the very beginning. It will save you in the end.
Looking to start up your own website? We’d love to help. Please give us a call or send us an email to discuss your needs.
Source: Geek Chicago