As a bootstrapping business owner, it might seem like a good idea to use a free or cheap website builder. But there are so many reasons to not use a free website builder.
Examples of these site builders are Wix, Squarespace, Weebly and others. The simple drag and drop function might seem like a great alternative to hiring a web designer. But any serious business owner who has used one can tell you, they’re majorly limiting and not free at all. It’s best to do it right the first time so you can save time, money and headaches down the road.
Your website should be your hardest working marketing tool and your best salesperson. Free website builders limit your ability to market your business. This means less leads, fewer sales conversations and a leaner bottom line.
Before you build on the cheap, remember most people will review your website before they consider giving you a call. These days, people know what a professionally made website looks like. The message a cheaply made site sends is less than favorable for your brand.
Reasons to Not Use a Free Website Builder
1. It’s not actually free or cheap.
Most of the companies that offer those DIY, “free” websites have a limited-time free trial. But the website options are so limited you end up spending money anyway. Some of them charge for image hosting, email accounts, FTP access, website transfer and more. And these charges are often wildly overpriced.
2. Limited bandwidth.
One of the main reasons a website builder is a bad idea is limited bandwidth. This means the number of web visits you get per month is capped. Let’s say you’re limited to 5GB bandwidth per month. After users have loaded 5GB’s worth of data from your site, it will actually stop responding. You’re building a website to promote your brand and reach new customers. You simply cannot do that when your website is down.
3. Non-pro web address.
A web address like www.mybusiness.freewebsitebuilder.com will not inspire trust or have people lining up to work with you. But s branded domain name on a “free” site will cost you a premium. Instead, set it up directly through a domain name registrar such as NameCheap.com.
4. No branded email address.
These free websites usually don’t offer email hosting, so you’ll have to use your Gmail or Yahoo account, which is a sure sign you’re a newbie at business. This does not look professional or inspire trust.
5. No control.
Another of the major reasons to not use a free website builder is the lack of security they offer. If you look at the terms and conditions on these free websites, you’ll find they reserve the right to shut your website down at any time, as they deem necessary. Don’t lose the money or time you spent on web design and blog content. And shutter to think. To lose the search engine optimization (SEO) you will build over time would be a painful setback.
6. No certainty.
Should your free website provider suddenly go out of business, you can bet your website will go down with the ship. Once again, it’s in their terms of service that they have the right to do so.
7. Limited design options.
Free websites offer just a handful of themes (cookie cutter branding). Now you’re stuck with a site that looks like everyone else’s. The number of pages you can have are also limited. It you have more you’ll pay an additional monthly fee. This page limitation is especially costly. When it comes to online marketing, the more landing pages you have, the more leads you can attract.
8. They place advertisements on your site.
How would you like a competitor’s ad on your website? Free website builders make money from running ads on the very sites they host. So if you don’t want irrelevant or competing advertisements on your site, don’t use a free website builder.
9. You CAN’T advertise on your site.
The terms of these websites prohibit the use of affiliate links and Google Ads. Your site WILL be shut down if you are caught violating these terms.
10. No site backups.
There’s no way to backup the web content you spent hours to create, so if something goes wrong with your site, you’ll have to start again from scratch. Once again, this will hurt your SEO. The people who would have found your website in Google search will find somewhere else to go.
11. No customer service.
Can’t figure out how to make something work? Short of their limited help articles, you’re on your own. It’s also unlikely that you’ll have access to a chat or phone line.
12. Not mobile friendly.
Most of the templates these website builders offer are not mobile responsive, meaning they’re not built to be viewed on mobile. A 2018 statistic by comSore says users spend an average of 69% of their web time on mobile. Everyone is doing it. You gotta go mobile.
13. Not Google friendly.
Google can’t verify a free website in Webmaster Tools. A professional web designer can integrate your website with Google Webmaster Tools to ensure your site’s pages are crawled and processed for Google Indexing. (So you show up in Google searches.) Meanwhile, Webmaster Tool’s error reports will let you know of any issues that might prevent your site from doing well in Google search.
There’s no substitute for the experience a professional web designer and marketer will bring to the table. While not all web designers do it, we design mobile friendly websites that get you leads. We place an emphasis on user friendly design, craveworthy messaging and overall lead generation.
Word of Caution
A Facebook or LinkedIn page is not the solution either.
You might be able to host a business page from Facebook or LinkedIn, but if you’re serious about sales and marketing, you need an actual website. Facebook and LinkedIn have their own rules and regulations.
Your page can be shut down if they deem you’ve violated any terms. In addition, unpaid social media reach is diminishing and — without running Google ads — you will have limited opportunities to be found in search engine listings.
What’s the solution?
If you’re serious about building your business online, you need a solid website foundation. The 14 reasons to not use a free website builder isn’t even an exhaustive list. By now you can see they’re unreliable and can throw a wrench in your business growth.
The best option to build your website is WordPress.org. It will give you solid footing to establish and growing your online presence.
With WordPress, you’ll use a branded domain name and email address. You will also have full ownership and control over your website. Add as many pages as you’d like. Throw in a bunch of forms and functions. Register your site with Google Webmaster Tools. Beef up the SEO to get found more in search. And do it all knowing you will never violate a term or have someone pull the plug on your website.
With a website host, such as WP Engine, daily backups will keep your design and content in a database. This means your website will be easy to restore should something ever go wrong. For even more peace of mind, WordPress’s built-in software helps to prevent hacking and malware attacks. WP Engine web hosting further helps to shore up any gaps in security.
WordPress itself is free. There are no monthly fees, so over time, you’ll save a bundle. The only money you’ll spend will be up front. You will need a yearly website hosting plan (ie: WP Engine). You’ll purchase a domain name if you haven’t already. And you might purchase a website theme or hire a web designer to trick out your website.
Mobile and search engine friendly.
Of the thousands of WordPress design themes available, most are mobile friendly (and are designated as such). WordPress itself is also search engine friendly. This lets you be more easily be discovered on the web. You’ll also be able to build e-commerce stores and paid membership options into your website, along with countless other sales and marketing features.
As you can see, building your business website on WordPress is a no-brainer. If this seems overwhelming to you, have no fear! Vox Pop Marketing offers WordPress web design for small businesses across the U.S. and abroad.