Free website builders – Free, easy, instant.
We have all seen the adverts.
Free website builders are quite popular these days, but they simply don’t work for real businesses.
Bold claim, I know.
In this article I will give you 11 top reasons why you shouldn’t use a free website builder to represent your business.
1. Cost – Free website builders, are they really free?
Free website builders advertise their services as 100% free. But they often have hidden terms and conditions.
Some free website builders start out free but then hit you with monthly charges when your trial period is up.
I think the main draw of a free website is exactly that. It’s for businesses who cant afford to invest in professional services. But, if your eventually going to have to pay to continue using those services you would be better off paying a professional a one time fee, rather than an on going fee for the life time of the website.
If you cant afford a one time payment, either look for a website design agency that offers to break down the costs or save up for it. If you cant afford to spend a few thousand on one of your most important sales tools then I urge you to save for it.
2. Customisation – Can I change that?
One of the main problems of using a free website builder (and there are many) is that customisation is often non-existent. You get to pick out of a selection of themes and then you add your text, your phone number and images, and that’s it.
If you want a layout that is different from the template you are using, tough.
A free website builder won’t allow you to edit the templates so you are stuck with a site that thousands of other business owners have used. How does that help your business stand out?
Being able to edit different pages of your website is one of the most important things you can do as a web designer. Different pages on your website will have different purposes. If you’re stuck with one theme, you wont be able to edit it to fit your business purpose.
You may want to create landing pages, contact pages, galleries and anything else you can think of. A free website building tool wont give you the flexibility to do this.
3. Professionalism – Don’t look like a “real” business, bye bye!
A website made by a professional is going to look and perform better than what you could achieve. No doubt about it.
The same way a mechanic is going to be able to fix a car better than an every day driver.
In my personal opinion it doesn’t matter how advanced the free website tools get, a professional website developer will always be able to do more for your business than a free tool.
Take into consideration that small details on a website can have a huge difference on profits. For example, a website that I looked after many years ago used to test on a daily basis how different website elements would effect the conversion rates.
Conversions were measured in sales of a piece of software. The company used to test:
- Changes in button colours
- The text on headings
- Different text on buttons
- Images of people / images of objects
- And much more.
You may not believe it but some of the above changes had a massive impact on sales.
Which takes me back to you building your own website. Maybe you have a good eye for detail and the site you build will pass for a professional looking site, but without having this internet marketing experience how are you going to know if your website is performing as good as it should be.
In the above instance small changes would result in up to 30% more sales.
You should also take into consideration that these free website building tools are a nightmare to use. I know, I have tried them.
I always try to keep up to date by checking these tools out. And as a professional web developer I can tell you that they are not easy to use and will cause you frustration.
4. Search engine optimisation – Will your customers even find you using a free website builder?
In all of my years of web development I have never seen a free website outrank a site built by professionals.
The free websites just aren’t SEO friendly.
If your website doesn’t get found by the search engines then you are not getting any potential customers on your website.
Even if these free websites miraculously became super SEO friendly overnight, would you know which keywords to use to get potential customers to your website?
Search engine optimisation or SEO for short is an entire field in its self. Knowing what keywords to use can make or break a business. An example of that can be shown with our own website.
One of the keywords we have targeted in our search engine strategy has taken us over 8 months to rank for. This keyword therefor is very competitive which means other companies will also be looking to rank for it.
If in the beginning we only tried ranking for that keyword we would have gone bust. There is no way we could have taken 8 months of no customers and lived to tell the tail.
Therefor we targeted much easier keywords which would bring us a lower amount of traffic initially, but these were much easier to rank for and because of this it brought custom our way very quickly.
Now lets say you don’t have enough budget to target a keyword with a lot of competition, but you didn’t know because you are not in the SEO field.
With a free website you may use that term within your website because it sounds like a great keyword to rank for, but because you don’t have the technical knowledge of SEO you are setting your business up for failure.
And that is why even most web development companies fail their clients because they don’t understand SEO.
To make this as simple as possible let me give you a made up example.
Lets say you have a business that sells wedding rings. You could target terms such as:
- Wedding Rings
- Gold Wedding Rings
Lets say both of those keywords get searched for at least 10,000 times a month. If your website ranked for those keywords, great. You could have an extra 10,000 website visitors looking to buy wedding rings.
Those keywords are being targeted by massive businesses who have a weekly marketing budget bigger than your yearly budget.
If you were to target those keywords by going up against this competition you would more than likely lose, or it would take you years to compete with them.
Long tail keywords
On the other hand you could have targeted keywords such as:
- Platinum tiffany wedding bands
- Silver Cartier wedding bands for women
Those keywords may only get 1000 searches a month, but they would be much easier to rank for and would likely result in better sales as they are more targeted.
Even better, you can fill your site with hundreds of keywords like these so instead of targeting just wedding rings that gets 10,000 searches you could target 50 keywords that get a minimum of 1000 searches each and get 50,000 visitors a month.
If you want your website to do anything for your business you must hire a web design agency that understands web design as well as SEO.
I really can’t stress the importance of hiring an agency that understands both website design and SEO
5. Mobile Friendly – Does your website look good on mobiles?
Free website templates are getting better, yet some of them still suck when it comes to being mobile friendly.
At the last time of checking I believe that 60% of people now browse the internet on their mobile phones and most of these users will click that dreaded back button if your website doesn’t look good on their device.
If your considering using a free website builder (I hope you aren’t) then you should check to see if it works on mobile devices. If it doesn’t, scrap what you are doing and look for a new one.
But the best solution would be to hire a web design agency that specialises in responsive web design.
Responsive website design is a method of creating a website that works on all devices such as:
- Desktop computers
- Mobiles phones
By being mobile responsive you are providing your potential customers with a better experience, which can lead to more sales.
You are also not getting penalised by the search engines like Google who show non-mobile friendly websites lower down in the search engines.
6. No analytics or poor analytics
You should always be looking for ways to improve your website.
Doing so will increase your profits.
On our website for example I always look for ways to make the users experience better. I always look for ways to improve the websites navigation, and I sometimes get rid or replace pages that don’t work well.
The only way I know what pages work or what pages need to be improved upon is by using in built analytics.
These analytics show:
- How long a visitor stays on the website
- The amount of pages a visitor views before leaving
- Total number of visits the website has had that day
- Search engine queries used to find the site
- Which pages cause users to leave without going to another page
As you can see analytics are very important, but most free website builders don’t include them. That should be enough to stop you from even thinking of designing your own website.
A page you design could look great to you, but it could confuse the hell out of your visitors and could cause you to lose money.
Analytics allow you to constantly test and tweak pages to make them perform better.
7. Fast development, low quality
Design your website in 30 minutes or less.
We have seen the advertisements, but really?
Our own personal site took around a month to design and build. That’s without us constantly testing to improve it.
Honestly, 30 minutes.
Your website is one of your most important sales tools and it is often the first point of contact that a potential customer will make with your business.
With that said, don’t you think you should spend more time on it than the amount of time it takes to order a takeaway and have it delivered?
A quality website that will bring you business for years to come deserves more than a few minutes spent on it. A good website can take weeks, months or even years.
As a business owner you are “told” to go to networking and trade events to gain more clients, but personally that doesn’t suit any of our staffs personalities. We just like to get on with our work.
Therefor we rely on our own website to bring customers to us, and it does. Like clockwork. If we had built it using a free website building tool I would have no doubt that it wouldn’t rank for any of our keywords and it wouldn’t look as good as it does.
Think of the amount of people who are searching for the services you offer right now and then think of what it would do for your business if you were sitting at the top of the search engine and they were clicking on your site and giving you a call.
That is what a website can do for your business. A free website will never do that.
8. Advertisements – Killing your business one ad at a time.
Not many things kill your credibility that ugly adverts on your website advertising the free website building tools.
You may have seen them:
“This site was created by somefreewebsite.com get yours today”
If I’m looking for a service provider and I come across that I’m clicking that back button. This is for many reasons.
This shows me that you don’t take your business serious, that you can’t be trusted and that you’re cheap.
Now all of the above are more than likely not true. But I don’t know you. And unless my initial feeling is good nothing more is going to happen, and I’m not going to hire you to carry out a service.
Online there is so much competition that if your potential customers feel like they cant trust you they will have no problems clicking the back button and buying from your competition.
9. Experience – do you have it?
I have touched on experience in this article, so I’ll keep this brief.
By building a website yourself you are relying on your website design knowledge, which I’m guessing you don’t have a lot to call upon.
That is fine.
I don’t have a lot of experience in building houses, carrying out hip implant surgery, working in recruitment or cooking food in a restaurant either. But my clients do, and the reason why they hire us is because we have experience in design, development and internet marketing.
A website built by us will out perform a free website any day of the week, it will also out perform a website built for you by our competition. Another big claim I know. But when every one of our clients has seen an increase in search engine rankings since hiring us, I think we have earned the right to be so confident.
If you have heard enough and want to see what we can do for your business check out our website design packages.
If not, keep on reading.
10. Support – help me please.
Website design and marketing can be complicated. We however cut out all the jargon and make each part of the process as simple as possible.
Free website builders however don’t have this support.
If you get stuck, your website breaks or you don’t know how to add or delete something on your website then you are out of luck. The website building tools may have a forum where you can search for answers but you once again are wasting your time.
You don’t want to be building websites, if you did you would be in the web design industry rather than the industry you are in.
By hiring a professional you can be supported every step of the way.
We are only a phone call away if you have a problem or question, and we only have a small team so by working with us you will develop a relationship with us and not be passed around from one call centre to another.
11. Performance – Float like a butterfly or slither like a slug
Websites built by free website builders are usually stored on the same servers as thousands of other websites.
This makes them so slooooooooow.
Website speed is a major ranking factor when it comes to your position on Google. This year alone we are seeing more changes with Google introducing something called AMP, which they have introduced to speed up pages on mobile phones.
Website speed can also play a massive part in the amount of sales or enquires your website receives. A website that takes longer to load causes your visitors leave, if your website is quick they are more likely to stay and buy.
No body likes a slow website. So don’t use a free website builder that takes an eternity to load, because no one will stick around for it.
Free website builders conclusion
To wrap this blog post up I’ll keep it brief.
Above I provided you with 11 top reasons why your business should not be represented by a free website and why you shouldn’t make your own website.
But the truth is, that was just scratching the surface.
There are plenty of other reasons why you should not build your own website, but if I were to list them all we would be here all night.
Hopefully after reading this post you are now open to having your website built by a professional.
A website that costs a few thousand pounds (starter website with us £1500, with 1 month SEO) does sound expensive.
If you have a good service/product you would be surprised how quickly you can get a return on investment with a good website.
Want to talk to us about having a custom built website for your business? check out our web design packages.
Join the 2000 other small business owners who have signed up to our free business newsletter below.