You see the ads everywhere. They are on television, they are on the radio, they are in your magazines. FREE WEBSITES! Simple! Easy! Anyone can do it!
I beg to differ.
Anyone CAN set up a site, yes. But who is that website benefiting? After saving clients from the headaches that ultimately attach themselves to such sites, I’d say the only one getting anything out of it is the free website company.
There are so many factors to choosing a website design, but the free site builders take some of your choices away. And these are really important choices that should be researched and really checked out before making a decision.
What if you eventually want to move?
At some point, you are going to want to take control of your own site. That could mean having it moved to a server with your other business sites, or handing over the reins to your in-house team. It’s a natural part of business growth, you want to keep your assets under your control in the most efficient and effective way possible. But what if you are using a free website service?
Even a reputable and long standing site such as WordPress.com can lead to long term bills. Why? Do you know you’ll have to pay WordPress.com annually to redirect to your new location? Are you just going to walk away from a website you spent three years building and cultivating? Probably not. You’ll see the monthly fee as worth not losing all the traffic.
Other sites won’t even let you take your site with you. You’ll have to start from scratch. Yes, from scratch. So all the hard work you did will have been a waste of time. I had a client that was spending close to $300 a month on her “free” site, after the “absolutely necessary upgrades” and when she wanted to move off their server, the site was useless because their codes were so embedded that it just would not work anywhere else.
Why doesn’t Google list me?
Good question. Now, if your site has been on the web for all of three weeks, well…that’s a good reason to not show up in Google. But if you have had a website for over a year and you aren’t seeing it in Google, even when you google your url, that’s a bad sign.
Some free website services are just not SEO friendly, some are stealing your Google juice outright, and some are engaging in bad practices and have basically gotten your url removed from Google’s index.
What do I do?
The bottom line is YOU MUST BE IN CONTROL OF YOUR OWN BUSINESS. That’s it in a nutshell.
You do not need to know how to design or write content. You need to know how to hire someone who is trustworthy and will do the best job possible for you and your business. You should be hiring someone who can show you facts, via stats like Google Analytics, or that your sales are increasing, that show they are building your business in a positive way. Would you let a property management company come in and take control of your warehouse without documentation of where your merchandise is going, who ordered it, who picked it up, who delivered it, just because they were doing it for free? No? Then you shouldn’t let a website design or hosting company take your hard earned website traffic and send it wherever they want, with no verifiable documentation. And their own internal stats don’t mean a thing. If it’s not Google Analytics telling you what you need to know, then it’s not verifiable.
Think of your website as business real estate and then treat it accordingly. It’s valuable, and it’s yours. You need to make that real estate start earning you the money it has the potential to earn. And you will only do that by taking control.