Yes they do, You’re in business I guess? What do the words “Free Website Design” say to you? Exactly! There’s a catch. And the catch just isn’t monetary either.
So there are companies out there who will allow you to design your own website free of charge. Why? Simple really, once you’ve spent a week designing it yourself using their clever software then psychologically you’ve put effort in. A lot of effort. The Company then has your contact details and also they’ve hooked you because of the effort that you’ve put in and the expectations that you’ll have for your new website design. You’ll now receive emails and possibly phone calls about how they can provide SEO (Search Engine Optimisation – In a nutshell tweaking the website so that it appeals to the search engines and so gets you a front page position in the search results). They’ll offer add ons that rotate images or link to a facebook account, After the free period which is usually 12 months they’ll then charge you for hosting, domain name renewal and other services that will amount to a few hundred pounds per annum. They’ll contact you for a review, you’ll tell them you’re disappointed with the results and they’ll tell you that you should upgrade and let one of their professionals design you a branded template and do some optimisation work on the website for you. This will then see you linked in for a further 12 months and still seeing poor results.
Its no different in practice to the free tyre checks or brake checks that you see the national garage chains offering. It’s their way of getting some work, free check on your tyres means that they’ll hopefully spot an egg or some uneven wear and before you know it that free check means two front tyres and an alignment. In addition you’ll be on their mailing list until the end of time. It’s all very well taking your daily drive to one of these tyre stops for a checkover and a couple of dunlops fitted but if you were a serious driver, a race driver that needed performance would you employ Kwiky Fit to run the pit lane for you? Of course you wouldn’t you’d employ professionals, you wouldn’t take the chance or throw the money away on something that wasn’t geared up for the job.
This isn’t the biggest problem however, cleverly using the word free to hook you into something chargeable is common practice in many industries just to get an introduction, free quote etc. Even I offer a free SEO check in the hope that I can provide you with a quote to get your website on page one of Google. The main problem however is the lack of functionality that these free websites provide. By that I don’t mean flashy graphics and rotating pictures, I mean the back end of the website, the technical side that ensures the website appeals to the algorithms used by the search engines. Keywords in certain places, correct meta tags and titles, correctly named and placed images, links, and so much more.
Only a web designer with SEO knowledge could ensure that your new website was designed in such a way. I’ve had many clients who have existing, good looking websites but that don’t appear in the search results when you type a certain key phrase into the search engine.
For example, if your business is called “Bobs Diner” you don’t want just people who are searching for “Bobs Diner” you want people to find your website who are searching for “good steakhouse” or ” best restaurant in town” You want essentially your website to provide you with new customers. These free websites simply wont provide this. They aren’t up to the job. Again, we’re back to the example of the race car and performance. You wouldn’t enter a Ford Focus into a Formula One Race would you?
If you want a vanity website or want to show your friends how you’ve designed a website about Carp fishing then the free websites may be for you. If however you’re relying on a new website to bring in new business then I think you already know the answer – the word free in business never actually means free. It simply means you’re getting something of little value.
Website Design doesn’t have to cost the earth, It does need to be effective however, Contact us to see how little a fully functional and effective website will cost.
This article was written by Gwiz
SEO Geek, Web Designer and Online Marketing Advisor. Steve works with businesses of all sizes across the UK and blogs about small business, marketing, web design and SEO at http://stevegrady.org