Free Websites, Do They Really Work?

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Many people and businesses I speak to come to our web agency after they have tried using one of those free websites. And guess what? The experience they have had has been poor and some what disappointing. Sure as a business owner you want to get the best value you can from products that are out there in the marketplace. But, when it comes to your website and all the associated online marketing that goes along with this, I’m afraid there are really no short cuts. Businesses in Australia who think it’s a good idea to get a free website and pay nothing for what they expect will generate revenue, and represent them online is complete nonsense. The truth is and I have said this over and over again; you pay peanuts and your going to get monkeys. This is the same with your website. Those free sites are there for the business owners who want nothing out of their site. Basically it is there just to exist as a brochure online; nothing more and nothing less. A point of reference with absolutely no thought or strategy behind it. Go the free route and expect little or nothing in return. That’s the reality of the web space and people or should I say naive business owners are falling for this all the time.

So why are these free websites so bad?

WIX, SquareSpace, the list goes on and on but watch out for free websites as there are some catches that go with these.

1) Essentially, you are going to get the same website as everyone else. I mean, what is going to differentiate your business from the next blokes? How on earth are you going to SELL your products or services if your site has the exact same look as every other free website out there. Online, if you expect to make a sale or generate an inquiry you MUST and I will repeat this MUST have a point of difference. Your site has got to have that something special, that unique ( and I hate to use this expression but I will ) ‘wow factor’, if the site will ever work for you. Don’t ever be fooled into thinking that just because you have a website that this is enough. This is far from the truth and a website is only the first step in a long list of must-do things if you are ever going to be successful.

Also read: DIY websites: pros and cons

2) Using free websites means that absolutely ZERO thought has been put into your SEO or search engine optimisation. OK, so let’s assume you have your stock standard, cheap-looking website up and running. The next question is, how are people going to find you online. How are they going to find you amongst all those competing businesses on Google? The answer is simple: they won’t!

Once your website is launched it is going to disappear down between the cracks and get lost amongst the thousands of websites out there. In short, you are going to be in real trouble as there will not be any incoming sales.

I am being 100% serious here when I say this. I cannot count the number of phone calls I get from people in exactly this same situation. They are in a state of panic and really very stressed that their phone is not ringing. The result is, that we have to remedy the situation by starting a new website from scratch. We have to do this all over again and get rid of the crappy free website and design and build a completely new one with SEO in mind. All that has happened is that the business has lost lots of time not to mention all those lost potential customers….WHAT A SHAME!

3) Free websites generally comes with hosting restrictions. That is you are stuck with their hosting provider and if you want to change to your own, you CANT. You are stuck with these guys for the entire time and they can then start slugging you with heavy internet hosting fees. This is where the rip off begins and this is where it starts hurting your back pocket. Also, what CMS or content management system are they using? By this I mean, is the back end of the site ( where you are going to want to make changes) easy and user friendly? Or is it riddled with bugs and flaws that hinder the growth of your business? One must really think of these traps and pitfalls before they decide to commit their entire internet marketing to something that is not only FREE but where you have had no face to face contact.

What happens if you want a few personal touches added to your site. Something special, a tiny bit of customisation. Well, you can forget about this. Basically, you are very limited with what you can and cannot do. Even the slightest change ‘outside the box’ is not permitted.

4) let’s talk about customer service and online help. Well, good luck with that. Think that you have to wait a long time to get help or answers from your hosting company or internet provider? This is nothing compared to what will happen if you have any questions regarding your site. There is no one there to help you and if you are ever lucky enough to get through, you get the old ‘ we will look into this for you’ run around. My theory is that if it is all done in the virtual space then there are going to be issues that you will need help with in the future.

The issue is these types of free overhyped sites are growing in popularity and this is extremely dangerous to all business owners wanting to make  go of it!

Free template sites like these may appear like a great idea. The adverts on TV, promoting these free websites are quite convincing and compelling. I actually quite like them. But, it’s all smoke and mirrors and a complete con. Funny, enough, these television ads are becoming quite frequent so the uptake in usage must be growing or else they would not invest this kind of money on TV ads. Like any fad there tens to be the growth phase and then once the public realises the downsides there is a fast decline and eventually like all quick to fame fads, they simply drop off the face of the earth.

Let’s hope that this happens sooner than later so good Aussie businesses don’t fall victim to these types of fads.

So What Can Companies Do? The answer is clear! Get a web design agency to work on your site. Spend the appropriate amount of money and get a professional service. It makes no sense to me why you would want to spend nothing on your internet marketing and ever hope to get anything in return. You don’t get free legal or accounting help. So, why should you expect the same when it comes to your website? All I can say is that for those businesses that read this and still go down the path of getting a free website, we will be here to help you when things turn sour. All you need to do is give us a call and we will be able to turn your poor online status around for you.

In summation, free websites are good for businesses who speculate online. They’re willing to give something a try and if it fails they don’t care. But, for those businesses that are worried about how they look online and how their website will perform, then FREE WEBSITES are a complete waste of time.


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