You’ve seen and heard the ads, “Build your own stunning website in just a few minutes!” Providers like GoDaddy’s website builder, Wix, Weebly offer do it yourself websites at a low price or for free. These website builder tools are making a killing off business owners who are looking to get online with little no know investment. They prey off new business owners that haven’t learned the difference between one of these pages and a real website with semantic markup and search engine optimized code.
It’s understandable to want to keep costs low, especially if you’re a startup. The thought of having free web hosting and building your site without paying anything is tempting. So you google “free website builder” or see the ad on your hosting site, and you sign right up. Then reality sets in Until you get a reality check. Once you sign up to these so-called “free website services,” you start discovering the limitations. Some are not free at all, some are plain or ugly, but some limitations aren’t obvious at first.
The problem is that creating a good website is more than just throwing a few elements on a page, slapping your phone number on it, and letting it go.
To make a truly useful website, you need to create an experience for the user. A website should be built with the user in mind to create a perfect user flow and smooth UX (user experience). This requires a good website structure and the latest SEO (search engine optimization) techniques backed by a solid design and founded with your goals and audience in mind.
Reasons Not to Use or Keep Free Website Builders
A Free Site Devalues Your Business
Let’s do some math… Wix.com currently has over 90 million users. On their website, they mention that they have about 500 customizable templates. If we do some simple math… 90,000,000 users / 500 templates = 180,000. That means that if you use Wix, you are probably using the same template as 180,000 other people.
This really diminishes your brand in so many ways. Not only do 180,000 other peoples website resemble yours, customers know you are using a cheap website builder to create a website and brand.
48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business (source: IronPaper)
Customers want to know you are a legitimate business that spends more than $30 on their online brand. This builds trust and brand awareness. When you go the cheap route with your business website, you are going to get cheap results.
Lack of SEO
One of the worst parts about using a website builder to create a business website is that the builder spits out a jumble of code that is not structured well. It doesn’t contain the necessary elements to help websites rank better in Google.
SEO Stands for search engine optimization and its the methodology of making your website show up higher in Google and other search engines. There are many pieces to SEO, but one of the most important parts is on-page SEO. This is the code and structure of the site, and they have a large impact on the SEO-friendliness of the website.
When you build your site with these website builders, you do not have control of the code – just the design. You can’t use structured data to increase your local SEO or even add content. Growing your online presence is a huge part of getting more online visitors and customers. These website builders don’t allow you to create new content so you will rarely rank in Google.
They Use Flash-Based Elements
Another reason websites builders are bad for SEO is that they are often flash-based. Google and other search engines can’t read flash, so they have no idea what the website is about. Not to mention that flash is very slow and kind of old school.
Flash is also very insecure, can’t be searched, doesn’t have text content and is a nightmare for search bots. I highly suggest staying away from website builders that use flash.
Some are Only 1-Page
Most website builders only offer a single page to be created which is bad for SEO and terrible for creating an online presence. Websites should be multiple pages and you should be constantly growing your page count with blog posts and additional content. That is the only way to keep Google bots coming back and keeping your website relevant.
It should not be possible to showcase your business in just one page. No one wants to scroll down an extremely long page that goes on forever. Websites should be sectioned off into different pages and levels to explain the business, who are you, what you do, where you are located and how to contact you.
No Website Structure or Data
The other issue with only have 1 page is that you do not have a website structure which is essential to SEO. Let’s take a look at our site structure which is a good example:
When a website is organized nicely and according to a site hierarchy, you make search engines very happy and they are often going to rank that website higher.
A URL structure should be organized to match the hierarchy with keywords that explain the page and content. When you create a website with companies like Wix, Weebly or GoDaddy’s Site Builder, you aren’t going to get a good hierarchy or structure.
No Competitor Diversification
With 180,000 other people using the same template, how are you going to differentiate yourself from your competitors? If a customer had the choice between a business with a Wix website or a business with a custom designed website, who do you think they would choose?
Not Mobile Friendly
Having a mobile-friendly website is probably the most important thing on this list. This should be obvious since pretty much everyone has a cell phone with access to the internet.
62% of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile had increased sales. (Source: Econsultancy)
When you use a website builder you aren’t going to get a responsive website design. Sure, it may look decent on a desktop computer, but did you happen to check it out on a mobile device? or a tablet?
It’s very important for a website to work on all devices because users are accessing the web from a lot of different ways and your website should be ready.
In order for a website to grow, you have to water it. When you create a website with Weebly, Wix or GoDaddy you don’t get the support you need or deserve. Is should not be your job to keep your website running and up-to-date!
What if your website goes down or something stops working on it? Do you have the skills it takes to fix it before your customers notice? A lot of the time, certain pieces of a website can stop working and you may not even know it. Customers may be trying to contact you, but you’re not a webmaster, how would you know?
Having a dedicated support team is essential unless you have an in-house developer, and even then, they might not be server experts. Your support team ensures your website is up, running and functional so that your customers can find you 24/7, 365.
Not CMS (content management system) Based
CMS systems are a powerful tool to help manage websites and their content. Content management systems like WordPress facilitate writing, editing, organizing and publishing content online.
You can have full control over files, design, documents and how you display your content.
When you use a website builder you are creating static HTML web pages that are no match for content management systems.
You’re Stuck With It
Migration is not possible when you use a website builder. That means that if you wanted to move your website somewhere else, you wouldn’t be able to.
Having your website run on a CMS system allows you to migrate from host to host comfortably without site interruption.
Slow Website Speed
Having a slow site is bad for visitors, sales, and even search engine rankings. Google knows everything about your website including how long it takes to load it. If it takes a long time to load, you will get dinged in the search engines and probably by your visitors as well.
The change in a website bounce rate spikes to 100% when a page takes 4 seconds or more to load. It jumps to 150% if a page takes 8 seconds or more to load. (Source: Hubspot)
With companies like Wix and Squarespace, you are on a server with a ton of other people. This creates fewer resources and slower websites which is bad for everyone.
Websites should be hosted on a fast server that isn’t overloaded with many sites.
No Analytics or Reports
Knowing what’s happening on your site is important for testing and evolving your site. You need a good way to track visitors, leads, and what people are doing on your website. With website builders, you simply can’t do this.
Having a large advertisement to create your own site for free is not something you want to display on your website.
Not only does it devalue your brand but it takes away from the user experience of a website. It instantly tells me that this website owner doesn’t care enough to invest in a real website.
You Don’t Own the Website
Like I mentioned before, you aren’t able to migrate a site created with a website builder. Which also means that you don’t even own the website. If you wanted to move it, you don’t have the option. This is because the company you built it with owns it.
No Unique Domain Name
With some website builder sites, you don’t even get your own domain name. They will give you a URL like mycompany.wix.com or goodbusiness.weebly.com which is pretty much worthless. This diminishes brand value, trust and the likelihood that anyone is going to contact you to do business from your website.
Having your own domain name is what sets you apart on the web. It allows you to build backlinks to your domain increasing the traffic and customers.
The fact is, many customers shy away from businesses that use these type of services to create their website.
Instead, enlist the help of a professional website design company that can create a responsive website for an affordable price. Stop trying to do it yourself and redesign your website to adhere to the latest standards and SEO practices so that you can grow your online presence resulting in more traffic, leads and customers.