The 'free website' fallacy

By: Ian Pattison, 5 May 2016

There's an old saying that you get what you pay for. Roughly translated for the internet age, if you don't pay anything for your website, don't expect to get anything of value from it.

Now, I may be a bit biased but here are some reasons why you should not trust free internet companies. Firstly, they are not there to help you, secondly, free websites give you a very limited variety in design, search engines virtually ignore free websites, and finally, because those companies that provide the sites will advertise your competitors on your site.

My main bugbear with free websites is they stunt your ability to choose how big and what content you are going to have in your website. You have probably had a bit of a play around with website builders and been dismayed. There is always a limit to the number of pages, the number of styles, text size, where you can put your logo, menus. There is no way you can develop proper user journeys to your products and services, even if you did know how to do that yourself. You end up with a website that looks the same as 10,000 others and, embarrassingly, makes it look like you care exactly zero about your business.

They also come with a branded url (unless you pay) and that looks like http:/myfreewebsite.boatsales.co.nz. Bit gross.

The second main reason I would not consider a free website is they are almost completely ignored by search engines. There is usually no way for you to optimize images and the page meta information that search engines rely on to find out what the page is about. But more importantly, search engines goal is to provide high-quality content and information to its users and the assumption they make is that information on free websites is not as good as that provided by agencies or companies that take the time to develop a proper web presence.

The most serious from your point of view is that often, the free website sites actually advertise other businesses on your site. You pour your heart and soul into a site you think will rate but when it goes live, you see a great big banner across the top of your page advertising your competitor.

Keen on having a more in-depth discussion on the benefits to your business of a proper, fully-optimised website??

2016 © Ian Pattison Web Developer