Of course the idea of free website is appealing. After all, hiring a web designer can be daunting. How do you know they’re any good? How do you know you aren’t going to be ripped off? What can they do that you can’t do yourself using services like weebly?
Here’s the problem with free (or cheap DIY) websites –
- Lack of Search engine optimisation (SEO). No thought has been put into important factors that help Google find and rank your site well, including site structure, titles & meta tags
- The website is hosted on cheap/free offshore servers, which affects your Google rank and performs slower for your customers
- There’s no thought into design and conversion optimisation. Once people find your site, you need to grab their attention and keep them there. Your website needs a clear ‘call to action’ – and that’s usually to pick up the phone and call you.
So, a free website may not have cost you money, but it certainly will be limiting the number of customers that can find you or choose to buy from you.
A free website is definitely a first step. It hasn’t cost you anything, and your business is now online. The only trouble is that your website will not likely perform as you thought it should. Most likely, it will be hard to find in Google, and it may not look as good as your competitors. Since the website didn’t cost you anything, you may think that it’s no big deal. Just remember though that you are missing out the big opportunity that marketing your business online can bring.
Why not give your website a test. Put on your customer hat, and Google something you think one of your potential customers might search for. If you’re a gardener in Bentleigh, for example, try searching for ‘Gardener Bentleigh’, or ‘Home maintenance Bentleigh’. Do you come up in the first few results? Do you even come up on the first page? If you do come up in results, is the link that’s shown in the Google results inviting enough for you to want to click on it?
Now go to your competitor’s website. Does it compare to your own? Which looks more professional? Is the site easy to navigate? Is it easy to find contact details and photos of your work? Is the information helpful? Would you, as a non-biased customer, choose to call you, or your competitor?
How many new customers would you need to find to make the investment of an ‘expensive’ website pay off? When thinking about that, also think about the ongoing effect. Assuming your new customers are happy with your service, they might pass on your details to their friends, family, or ‘Liked’ you on Facebook. Now a whole stream of people are aware of your business, and could potentially be your customers. As you can see, from just one customer sourced via your website, you could quite quickly have a whole stream of new customers all due to your “expensive” website. Quite a sound return on investment in my opinion.
Maybe the title is a bit off; it’s not that a free website will directly cost you money, but rather will significantly deprive you of the opportunity to expand your business.