By now, we have all seen TV and print ads by hosting company giants, 1nd1, Go Daddy and Network Solutions that offer easy point and click websites for small businesses. Most of these allow a business owner to create either a free website or perhaps at a small initial fee but ongoing rate of less than $50/month.

I just love it when I see how they twist things in their commercials. For example, in one advertisement, they give an example of a business website, say, Suzie’s Flower Shop. The ad goes on to show that now that they have a website, potential customers can find them easily when they search for ‘Suzie’s Flower Shop’. Really? If the potential customers already know the company name, and they’ve already decided to buy if from this company, why would they be searching for it by the exact name, unless they want to look at the products or perhaps look up the address.

These ads are doing a disservice to their customers by giving them a false sense of hope that once a business uses their services to create a free website, people will start flocking to their online stores. I know too many good people who have been burned by these services, because usually, by the time they realize that no one is coming to their websites, they have already lost 9-12 months or even more.

Here are some of the reasons why a professional website design and SEO company can provide a much better ROI (Return on Investment):

  • A professional web design and SEO company will take the time to learn about your business.
  • They will take the time to review your online marketing strategy.
  • They will conduct competitive analysis.
  • They will research and recommend appropriate domain name(s) for your business.
  • They will provide effective keyword research for your niche products.
  • They will create your website with SEO from the ground up.
  • They will create a website that can grow with your business.
  • An ethical website design company will create your business website you can take with you, if you decide to move to another company.
  • They will provide ongoing maintenance, so a business can focus on what it does best.
  • They will help you monitor your internet marketing efforts and make adjustments as necessary.

These are just some of the benefits.

Here are some of the problems our clients faced when they had previously signed up with such services:

  • No guidance on appropriate domain names
  • No guidance on online marketing
  • No way to tweak the webpages for effective SEO tactics
  • No way to get to the code of the website for enhancements
  • NO PORTABILITY. You cannot move your website. If you decide to move, tough luck. You’ll have to start from scratch elsewhere.

The biggest problem is that by the time a business owner realizes what he/she is getting into, precious time has been wasted. It is not uncommon for realization to hit them 9-12 months down the road – time that could have been spent on building up their online business.

Having said that, there are definitely reasons why you would choose such services to make a free website:

  • You have a very small business – more like part-time, that you do it as a hobby.
  • Use these services to build an online presence on a temporary basis, while your main website is being designed.

In summary, don’t get trapped by these free website builders and offers to build cheap online marketing websites. Sure it may cost you less up front, but are you really saving money? For example, if a well-designed and well optimized website can bring an attorney 1 or 2 new clients per month, compared to no new clients with the free website, that could mean a potential loss of tens of thousands of dollars every month. Invest wisely in your business.