If you’re just starting your business, considering revamping your existing website, or you’ve recently emerged from your shadowy home under a rock, you might be starting the process of creating a website for your business, and may even be contemplating a free website. You don’t have to have a lot of business savvy to know that having a website is no longer an option, but a requirement in order to stay out of the red. With the right content and SEO strategy, a quality website can generate leads for your business as you sleep.
Unlike with people, when it comes to website building, not all platforms are created equal. Though it may be tempting on the budgetary side of things, in reality, a free website can cost you much more in terms of aesthetics, customer perception, website control, and search engine friendliness.
How a Free Website Can Cost You
Limited SEO options (and thus less organic search results)
Free website builders like Wix and Weebly may have been designed with ease-of-use in mind–but what good is the ease of creating your free website if it will never be found by potential clients?
Search engine optimization is key to helping customers find your business online, and the SEO tools found on free website platforms are very basic SEO tools and don’t really translate into real results, especially compared to the more advanced tools available on paid website platforms. With SEO evolving all the time, you can’t really afford to trust the basic strategies employed by the Wix and Weebly SEO tools. Ask any online marketing expert (including us!) and chances are they’ll tell you that a paid platform like WordPress is much better for your business than a free website in terms of SEO.
Sure, you could try a paid search campaign to compensate for lack of good SEO on your free website–but imagine how much better you’d be doing if you combined paid search and good SEO on a paid platform!
Limited design & customization
Aesthetics are key when it comes to a website. Potential customers are drawn in to websites with an intuitive, eye-catching design, whether it includes an image slideshow, a smooth drop down window, or a special cursor. Custom websites are usually more visually-appealing and innovative than the free templates offered by free website platforms–plus they are completely unique to your business, unlike free website templates that can be used by anyone!
In addition, free website platforms, particularly Weebly, do not have functioning plugins and additional features available on paid website platforms, such as shopping carts, forums, chat rooms, and other applications to encourage customer interaction.
No site ownership
If you go the route of a free website, you risk the chance that the free platform could someday go away, taking your website with it. We aren’t the only online marketing experts who see the risks of creating a free website; Copyblogger has even coined the term “digital sharecropping” for the phenomenon of concentrating marketing efforts on free website and social media platforms.
With a paid platform like WordPress, you can host your own website for an affordable annual fee, and you have complete site ownership. Your content, images, and entire website are not held hostage to the whims of the free website platform.
Free website = major lack of credibility with potential customers
Ask the next five people you meet which website they would be more likely to trust: one with the company name followed by .com (like http://billyjosbanjoemporium.com), or one with the company name followed by freewebsite.com (http://billyjosbanjoemporium/freewebsite.com). Survey says that the extra stuff added to the URL by free website platforms will turn away most customers. A lack of credibility in a website domain name easily translates into a lack of reliability for the business itself, especially because hobbyists, not reputable businesses, often use free website platforms. In this way a free website could actually lose you potential customers and potential income!
Not only will your URL lack credibility if you choose a free website, but your email addresses will too! With a free website, you will not be able to use domain-linked email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org. It may seem like a small detail, but potential customers notice these things and might think that your business is not as authoritative or professional as it really is.
Want to avoid the drawbacks of a free website?
If you’re currently developing your website, hopefully you’re reconsidering using a free website platform. If you’re currently using a free website platform and now you’re freaking out, fear not. You can always migrate your existing website to a new paid platform and take advantage of the many benefits they have to offer.
At Turn the Page, we recommend WordPress for custom websites, and we offer WordPress web design and web development services to create the best website for your business. Contact us today at (816) 527-8371 or (844) 889-5001 to learn more about creating a website with us!