There are a lot of free website offerings on the market today including Wix, Weebly, Yola and more. Free anything sounds good, but what’s the catch? These companies aren’t providing free services out of kindness, they must be making money somehow – what’s going on?
Using a free website builder doesn’t present a very professional look for your site. While some of the templates may be nice, they tend to look like, well, templates. Visitors that do arrive at your site are not going to be blown away and this may reflect poorly on your brand.
In general, there are two main sources of revenue for free website companies, advertising and service upgrades. If you choose the “free” website option, you can expect to have ads placed on your site outside of your control. This just doesn’t look very professional and can really blow up depending on what ads are run. If you decide that you don’t want ads, the “free” service providers are more than happy to upgrade you to a”Premium” plan for a few bucks a month.
If you need any custom programming or database work done for your site, you can forget it. It’s just not available. If you need to sell products, track customers, make appointments or host a blog (and these days you need a blog), you are out of luck. Or you may get some of these functions as a paid add on or some sub standard offering created to fill this gap. In the end, if you need something they don’t have, you’ll have to do without.
With the free services, you generally have to use the providers domain name with either a subdomain like mysitename.weebly.com or a sub-directory like myusername.wix.com/mysitename. None of these domain name formats look very professional and worse, they are not going to help you much with Google rankings – it doesn’t seem like Google takes these free sites very seriously. So if showing up on Google organic search is important, a free website may not be the way to go.
This is the one that bugs me the most. Let’s say you’ve designed a great site on one of these free site builders (well almost free) but now you need to take it to the next level. Unfortunately, your site belongs to the service provider and they won’t part with it. You’ll have to start over.
So in the end, you get what you pay for. If you need a professional looking site that can rank well on Google, free website builders are probably not the best choice. Even if you have simple needs, consider installing a WordPress based site. Most hosting companies provide installation scripts that allow you to install WordPress on an inexpensive hosting platform. You can use your domain name and best of all, you’ll do much better on Google rankings.