The Real Cost of Free Websites

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So you have either decided to either embrace the fact your business needs a website or you have gritted teeth and are steeling yourself to getting it done. In an effort to keep your costs down you see no reason not to take advantage of the many free websites/free hosting options available. These free websites offer to put up your logo, your customer information and contact details etc at zero cost – a win-win situation surely?
Absolutely not I’m afraid, nothing in this world is free and a free website will cost you dearly in more ways than one. I will forensically dissect for you both the disadvantages of using free websites and hosting and the impact they can have on your business.
As an opener lets take your credibility. If you direct a prospect to your business site and the web address is “www.freewebsites-are-us_john_Barret_Carpenter.net” you will lose your credibility with that potential prospect straight away. Remember that you can only use a free website template that has the host companies’ branded banner included on your page – very unprofessional. This has the effect of diluting your own brand as well as sending your prospects straight into the arms of one of your competitors. In addition these free sites are very homogenous in appearance. While you may want a recognizable brand that sets you apart from the rest you will end up looking like a host of other spam riddled sites. Neither can you get a professional email address eg ‘John@barrett-carpentry.com’ and instead you will have to settle for a spammy mail address.
Secondly, many of these free websites use “drag and drop” which means you could actually put your site together in less than 1 hour provided you had your text and images ready. ‘Great ‘ you might think. Alas, ‘drag and drop’ technology uses horrible designs and clunky coding which the search engines absolutely hate.
While we are on the subject of Search Engines you can forget about ranking in Google etc with a free website. The search engines simply ignore them so you will not rank in Google for your keywords or phrases. Bear in mind that Google & Co. take into account how long your website takes to load and free websites traditionally have slow loading times due to the pressure the host server is under. This is another reason for your prospects to get exasperated and click on your competitors site.
If you want to build up a list of prospects using a contact box in your site then you can forget it with the freebies. Indeed adding anything interactive or cool social bookmarking is a no-no as well.
Now for the hidden costs that directly hit your pocket. If you decide to upgrade your free site to a paid one then the host company will get their pound of flesh ( they have probably been bombarding you with sales emails in the meantime) and crucify you on the hosting costs. Think you might circumnavigate this eventuality by going to another hosting company? Forget it – its a horrendous pain in the neck.
So if you want to have a credible, safe, professional, supported and interactive website that does your brand/service/product proud and will show up in Google then get a professional with a solid portfolio to do it for you.
It utterly defies belief that businesses want a website but don’t want to pay for it. Come on lads.
If you don’t want to pay for it then fine – but in that case have no website at all.
It will cost you less than a free one…

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