Building a free professional website is now within your reach – thanks to the proliferation of online site builders. Their selling point? That the design of your website can be achieved in minutes and very easily. Now doesn’t that sound attractive! However, creating an effective website is really not as simple as these platforms suggest.
The downside of free websites - too good to be true!
If these websites allow you to put in place a quick and efficient result, it will soon be clear to you that the disadvantages of this type of system are in fact numerous, the principal one being:
They are not really free!
In reality, the free version of these platforms provides very little in terms of functionality. Your domain name is a sub-domain of the platform, and your site is not optimized for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Simply put – If you want a website that is even marginally effective using this approach, then you will have to pay a monthly fee. Whilst those fees are not high, you pay them indefinitely and, moreover, they can go up at any time, and generally without any warning.
Creating a 'free' professional website takes time
With so little investment, you will have to improvise yourself, by taking on and learning the skills of web developer, web designer, Seo consultant and marketing specialist. All jobs that require a sound technical knowledge and, for professional results, years of experience and practice.
You are not creating a professional website
Nowadays, having a website is no longer an exception. It is commonplace. Many companies, freelancers and individuals have websites. Now the real sinews of war are to go further and design a website that pursues real goals.
Before creating your website, you must define the objectives that you want to pursue. If you are embarking on the digital adventure, it is for a very specific reason. Whether it is to win new customers, improve your reputation, sell online or be informative about your products and services, your objectives must be clear, measurable and supported by an effective strategy. The free website builders only allow you to design a small site quickly, and without any real strategy to support it.
They aren’t easily able to be customised
Whilst you can choose your photos and write your texts, you do not get a huge library of themes, features, and tools. There are therefore strong similarities between free websites. This is far from ideal if you want both a unique website that looks like you, and if you want to stand out from your competition.
They are slow
Since you are not the owner of your website, you cannot choose your host. Most free website hosting providers put hundreds of websites on the same server, which means they will tend to be slow as storage is therefore limited. A website that is slow provides a poor user experience which after 3 seconds of waiting, will prompt the user to look elsewhere. Similarly your SEO is strongly penalized, and on this particular point Google is very strict.
They are not search engine friendly
Your website will not be able to do anything more than verify the meta descriptions and personalized title. In no case will you be able to intervene technically to optimize the code and the pages in itself.
Despite all the tools (paid) that are available, it is impossible to really optimize those sites for SEO.
The “free” websites often perform poorly in the search engines, for the very reasons mentioned above.
Even a SEO professional can’t promise that your site will be in 1st place in Google, let alone the 1st page, because they simply have no means to achieve it. They are strictly limited in their ability to optimise your website.
You will not be able to transfer your 'free' site
After having sampled a ‘free’ site builder experience, many decide to use web designers in order that they can have a better and more efficient website. If you want to transfer your website and leave this kind of platform, then you will have to start designing your website from scratch.
You are not the owner of your website
One fundamental thing to know is – you will never own your website! Even if you pay for more options, you are only a tenant. Indeed, your site remains the property of the company behind the intuitive online ‘drag and drop’ solutions.
This status means that these companies can delete your free website at any time. And this, without providing you with explanations (it is written in the conditions of use). Should this happen to you, you will not be able to recover your website, because platforms of this nature do not allow you to backup your data.
You are not the owner of your domain name either!
Yes – that’s right. In the scenario above you will lose both your website and your domain name. The subscription will be cancelled and your domain name will only be available after a few months have elapsed. You will therefore have to wait or else purchase another domain name.
In reality, these ‘free’ online site builder solutions are designed to address a short-term situation.
Hopefully, the above will have demonstrated to you that a website designed by professional web developers is not an expense. It is an investment, which will allow you to acquire customers and, in consequence, provide you with a significant return on your investment. An investment that in the long term will pay for itself.