Is a free website worth the money?

The cost of having a website built by a professional, plus the lack of knowledge or understanding when talking to a professional web designer or developer can drive some small business owners towards one of the many 'Free Website Builder' sites, but does it makes business sense in the long run to sign up to one of these services?

Of course you would expect any professional web designer/developer like myself to have negative feelings towards these services as they do steal potential customers from us, but there are many other reasons why I would advise against using them if you want to compete in the marketplace for your business or services.

Who are Free Website Services good for?

If you purely want a website that informs customers what you do, where you are and how to get in contact with you then great, much like a business card a free website would do the job. The trouble is you would have to actually tell people your website address (and hope they remember it) or advertise it somewhere like in a local newspaper or shop window. I say this because the chances of your business website being found in the first few pages of the Google search results for your product or services are very low.

How much does a free website cost?

The average 'free' website will cost you around £10-£15 per month. Ok there is usually a free option, but if you want a half decent unique(ish) website that is not plastered in adverts, with limited editing capabilities and poor SEO attributes then you will have to pay for a premium package costing £100-£200+ per year + all the overpriced 'add-on's' ....every year. You will also have to create all the content yourself.

After 3-4 years you would have paid the same as you would for a professionally built website. You also have to factor in the time you will spend editing the site, finding images, writing content, opening support tickets when you can't edit your site and reading emails trying to sell you premium services.

A professional Website

A professional web designer and developer will build you a bespoke website, not use a template that is used by 20,000 other people and has no individuality. They will also fine tune the site to your exact requirements and create quality content, but the biggest consideration of all is that a good web developer will build your website so it is SEO optimised.

I can't find my site on Google?

If you look at the support pages on a lot of the free website builder companies websites you will see the overriding question from their users is "Why can't I see my site when I search for it on Google?". These are people who cannot find their site at all!, not people who can't see it on the first few pages.

One of the major players in this market routinely answer this complaint with "it can take 1-3 months for Google to index your website" , this is RUBBISH!, a properly constructed SEO optimised and properly submitted website can be indexed by Google in 1-3 days, not 1-3 months. This answer is a cop out, and in my opinion a stalling tactic, it almost guarantees that a customer will pay at least 3 months money before realising that they are not going to get what they expected from the service.

Of course a lot of customers expect their site to be on page 1 of Google the day after they publish it, this is unrealistic, no one, no matter who they are can guarantee first page of Google.

To achieve SEO success, research into competitors, target market and keyword search terms analysis is needed, even then it depends heavily on your competition and how much money and talent they are throwing at SEO. One fact that I am pretty certain of is that you stand virtually no chance with a free website service of competing with a professionally built website that has a properly implemented SEO strategy.

Not very responsive

A lot free website builder templates are not responsive and/or do not scale well and remain functional & usable. Why is this important? because more than 50% of users access a website on their mobile device, either a tablet or a smartphone, and if your website cannot be used properly on one of these devices then you could lose that customer to your competitor that does have a responsive website.

Summing up

So a professionally built website from us will be beautiful, unique, SEO optimised, flexible, adaptable, will be found in Google and could attract new customers and make you your money back in a few months.

A website from a free website service might cost you £200-£300 per year, be the same as 20,000 other peoples websites, have limited SEO qualities and you might never see a return on your investment.

Contact us for a professionally built website.