Free Websites The Real Cost Can be Thousands

The Real Cost of Free Websites

free website offer bewareYou’re ready to launch a new business or update your marketing methods and at the same time you are looking for ways to minimize your start-up costs? When business are starting up or have been using old style marketing the word seems to get out and you are likely to get approached by companies trying to show you their methods to save money, and one of the most common offers are a free website often packaged as part of phone directory related or advertising campaign. It’s sounds tempting a free website but whats the catch? And there are many….

Marketing with Free Websites Can be Costly

If you are like many business owners you are experts in the area of your business but marketing may be a whole new arena and you aren’t sure how to go about marketing your business online. Here is where a website comes in. You want to save as much money as you can on your website, but free can be costly in more ways than one. Larger and established businesses typically have a marketing budget, comfortable with marketing and invested in ways that discovered worked to get them leads and optimize results. Many made mistakes, some even to the brink of loosing their business, so lets learn from their mistakes and what works.

If you are newer to business or have never marketed your business online it a massive unknown, you trust that you will invest well, want to minimize risk and find the best return. So understanding how the free website business works is important.  Often when you are in the start-up stage of business or ready to start marketing online for your existing business you can be tempted to make hasty decisions and an offer of a free website may sound like just what you need, but if you aren’t up to date with the best marketing strategies you can end up buying into marketing that no longer works.

In the past many businesses relied on newspaper ads, phone books ads and word of mouth, it was the way marketing was done, but that has all changed. Your customers shop very differently and your website is the way to reach them, a free site won’t serve you or your clients so this is not a place to skimp, We decided to write this article to provide you with the best information on free websites and the hidden costs so you can make an informed decision.  Free websites can end up costing thousands in up sells and contracts as well as lost revenue in valuable customers. It can turn into an ugly option very quickly as you discover there really is no free.

When you are starting a business you are building a foundation to grow and dominate in your business arena; a customized marketing plan is essential to your success and your website is key to marketing online. So don’t get tempted to save money with a free web site offer before you know how expensive free can be. At Traffic Rush we are SEO experts we want to help you avoid the pit falls by sharing valuable advise you can take and use to help you grow your business.  We know that if you have decided to go into business or have an existing business you likely didn’t do it as a hobby you chose to go into business to create a better life, and make money on your terms and part of this success is knowing how to marketing your business online.

“A Website is Just a Website Unless it is Optimized Specifically for Your Business”

While you may hear “get a free website” packaged with phone books or other advertising, a website is just a website unless it is optimized and targeted to market your specific business online, there are millions of websites all vying to take the top space in the search engine and a cookie cutter free site will not earn that place. Cheap free websites can be set up in minutes on free themes, they are often outsourced overseas and can be set up for a few dollars, but they are used as lost leaders to entice business owners to get hooked on the idea that they will be given a beautiful free website, but it comes at a cost, theses sites need to be hosted and have domain that you pay for and they are highly inflated, sometimes up-to a 1000{fe8389ffdd8aaca48b5a077969ec01ec63eb8d7469cf91d5c5144f43d02ef5be}. They have to make money and this is where the tricks come in and where the big money is made from the up-sells and services that need to be bought to get the free website.

So lets talk about the reasons you really need a website and bring your online marketing into the 21st century. When you know why you need something and how it will benefit you it will open up a whole new world of marketing your business so you will not only embrace online marketing but watch your business grow and thrive.

As  seo experts we are always hearing the reasons why our prospects invest as little as possible in online marketing solutions. The most common ones we hear include:
We’re a new business and don’t have the money for a professionally website
We just need a website to say we have one
We’re planning to market our business in other ways, like newspaper ads or word of mouth
Our customers don’t use websites, they’ll just find us in the phone book
I doubt that a web site will help us, we’re not that kind of business, so we don’t want to spend much
I think free websites or a really cheap websites will do what we need.

We are marketing experts and people come to us to help them grow their online presence, and we hear these literally every day. We understand that you want to save money and you may have a small budget, but now is the time you want everything stacked on your side to market your business so you can grow and make money. You are building a foundation for success and a shaky start will lead to higher expenses and loss of customers that you will never get back.

How the Cheap/Free Becomes Very Expensive

Free websites are extremely appealing, they may seem like a viable option, especially if you are looking for a quick fix and to say you have a business site. You may have been approached by a telemarketing company promising to give you a free site or a larger telephone directory company that offer a free websites when you sign up for a contract or buy another service or two. They may provide acceptable templates with a clean and professional look that may meet the basic expectations of most who sign up. And they target people who typically don’t understand how websites work or what the purpose of a site is for. They often target business owners who believe that having a site is better than nothing, but it goes without saying there are costs to getting these free websites.

Businesses are not in the business of giving free or they would not exist. These are multi million dollar companies who promote and tie these websites into packages that are often redundant and ineffective in today’s marketing. But this is what they call in the business a lost leader, meaning they entice you with what they promote as a high value items  and yours free when you buy the stuff that is totally useless. The free site strategy has become massively successful for organizations that would have other wise fizzled out, they know that people don’t buy phone books ads anymore and people don’t use them, but rely on the fact that you want their “free” site so you will buy their ad pages that can equate to thousands over the year. They also make massive money on the domain you register through them and the hosting you need to place your website and it all offer equates to millions of dollars in annual profits. These companies rely on what you don’t know about Online Internet marketing and website design, setting you up for failure. In fact most of these companies hire sales people who target businesses and no little if anything about the product they are pushing and as it may be a name you have heard from years of past you trust they know what they are doing and in your best interest. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Why Free is Bad

We have discussed why free websites are simply a bad idea but on top of the obvious they are  limited cookie cutter, sites with repeat generic content and you site looks like a clone of your competitor. This is not professional for business, gives you no brand presence and to get ranked in Google is an absolute no!

While a site may be part of a package and appears to be free you are tied their terms of service, rules and regulations, so in fact you do not actually own the website, you have little or no access to make changes and once you stop any services you are not happy with or do not serve you, you free website is taken back, so not it’s not really free.

Why Free Websites Can Cost Thousands

Let’s look at countless ways that “free” eventually costs you money and why. We want to be honest and save you heart ache in the long-term.

Here are 13 reasons a free website could cost you a lot of money, either through hidden fees or worst in lost opportunities:

1. You Pay for Expensive Hosting – You may get a free website, but hosting for the site is not, you will pay premium rates for hosting, while you could get cheap hosting for just a few dollars a month you can expect you pay at least 10 times this amount each and every month, this is a huge money-maker companies for companies that offer these sites for free.

2. Difficult Platforms – You will likely not have a choice of free website platforms as they host on their servers. Often they are placed on non user-friendly platform so you are not able to migrate or take the site with you should you decide to discontinue using their services when the contract ends.

3. Limited Storage – Most sites will be placed on economy plans, which means you have very limited storage space, this can cause your site to load slowly and if you have images or e-commerce and you will quickly need to take their upgrade likely paying at least 10’s the hosting rate you need to be. And as you will likely be locked into a contract you will have little choice than to pay up.

4. Expensive Domain Registration – a domain is a necessity, you cannot have a website without a domain, most of these companies will get you to register your domain name through them at a premium price. They will not cover your personal domain on your free website  There are much cheaper options where you buy and own your domain but to make money they will only likely only get to purchase through their company and a very high rate.  

5. Your Website Will Display Ads for Other Companies Even Your Competitors – unbelievable but true. Yes, the company that set up your free website can and will likely place ads on your site, even you competitors to make income. Many free templates are set up to host Google, Bing and Yahoo display ad networks, and people pay Search Engines to run ads, and will often have them on competitors “your” pages. And yes, the company that made your website will make money off any ad such as Google Adsense. Not a free website but a money-maker for everyone else. What could be worse and more embarrassing than having your site covered with your competitions ads and pop ups!

6. Free advertising for the free website company.  At the very least, you can expect the free site company place and ad link in the footer of your site,  telling the world you have a free website with the intention of enticing others to click for their free site;hooking them into the same trap, it’s a vicious cycle, carefully planned for them to get more business from you hard-earned dollars (remember you free site is costing you money in other ways to get that site) so they are making money off you in multiple ways.

*** This also tells your visitors and potential clients that you’ve are using a “free” service to build your website. This does not build trust in any way, it is a clear demonstration to some that you’re not even investing in your own business, so why should they, don’t throw away trust or credibility .you need for business

7. You Don’t Really Own the Website – No your borrowing it, the free site is part of a package and when you stop paying for the package the website disappears because you never owned it. The whole strategy is a sham, once you enter into the agreement for a free site and part of the package you are in the spider’s web and the cycle begins where you pay dearly for something you don’t and wont ever own. The fine print by law should have this information, carefully pieced together by expense lawyers, but the sales people will be happy to explain it and make it sound like the deal of the century and how lucky you are to get this time sensitive offer attached to the expensive redundant package you had to buy. Can you tell I’ve heard the pitch a few times 🙂

*** Suddenly you realize you attached to this costly site, like paying for someone else car payment on a car you will never own. The domain, that site, its content, graphic design and any other elements along with your clients if captured in their server and email are not transferable. With this in mind they have you hooked as you feel you have too much already invested and are stuck. These free website companies rely on anyway to keep you as they make millions on useless websites. To recap, each and every day they make money on domains, hosting, necessary upgrades to make your site function, ads placed on your “their” site and the cycle of collecting more free traffic to their busy so they can run the hustle again and again. They rely on making it so difficult that you won’t move your site or they prey on your fear that you don’t know enough to get out of the contract so you stay, even though you feel trapped, frustrated and ripped off. They will do whatever it takes to protect their business, they make it including making it very attractive and easy to sign up but when you try to cancel their agreement it becomes a battle and often very costly. I know people say read the fine print, but easier said than done with legal teams in their side they have it covered.

8. Not Your Own URL “Not Good” – Your domain is your name, your brand and it is valuable to your business. When you use a free service to register a domain that you believe to is yours intended to build your online web presence  is not always the case. Often the site businesses cleverly gets to piggy back their name on to your URL. This means that the name of their company will get to stack onto your domain so they show up on all of your promotional materials. This will mess up your URL causing search engine confusion and damage your website rankings. You may end up with  a ridiculously long web address and cannot be read by search engines, they won’t know who they are ranking for and whose business. Your normal URL should look something like: www.JoesCompany.com but after they tag their company on it will likely look like: www.JoesCompany.XYZWebsitesCompany.com and they may receive your emails as it hits their addresses first. This is not the professional business model you want to display, its confusing to your clients and when they need to send you and email with a third-party attachment they will likely think it looks very suspicious, in fact it can appear to look like some scams. Potential customers and clients if they can even find you may not take you seriously at all and move onto your competition. That means the money you need to grow your business gets left on the table as they go to your competitors and will never come back. The very reason you want a website is to have online build presence and now the purpose has been defeated; instead of driving you leads,  so you can convert into customers they have left and you are still lining the websites companies pockets as they have no need for your success, it’s simply a model for them to make money. 

9. Your Website Will Not Rank in Google for Keywords – First and foremost you want your website to rank for keywords, this is how people search and find you online. There are millions of website, people do not search by your company name unless you are very well-known and in that case you would never use a free website, they type keywords into search engines like Google and mobile devices using specific search term keywords,  for example “top rated cosmetic dentist in West Vancouver” or “pink vegan purse under $100” sounds strange but think how you would search. In that case a free site is not the best plan, as they are more of a one size fits all they do not optimize your site for keyword search, meaning if the content and search terms and not “SEO” search engine optimized you may never get found.  “Free” sites miss critical areas of the website; typically you are able to modify in the free themes and often you do not have access to make those changes. If you want them you will pay for them, again the cost will be incredibly inflated as they take a cut and typically outsource to a third-party.  Many highly skilled web developers are challenged enough and need to be  very skilled to properly optimize a website for search engines – so it unlikely in any way that a free web service outsourced with a cookie cutter system could ever create a user-friendly keyword rich search engine optimized site. Besides that, this is not their goal, the goal is to hook you and keep you paying thinking you have done something wrong as they claim to be the experts. Without SEO and organic keyword rankings could result in a website with no visitors at all. So why have a website again? A free non producing marketing tool they own that makes the millions that you pay for?

10. – Your Domain Will Not Get Ranked in the Search Engines – Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have a criteria for placing websites in prominent positions and it takes work and expertise to get ranked. They will look at your domain, Trust and Domain Authority as part of the ranking process. And since your free website is typically a sub-domain not an independent domain it will not give what Google is seeking for its visitor; they are seeking trust and longevity and when their algorithms spot a free domain it may be flagged by their bot; is this is a business to be taken seriously, in it for the long haul or is it a bit scammy.  Even the very best businesses online who follow the rules, offer visitor value and are highly optimized can bounce around a bit, this is the nature of search engines. While they settle and come back in place can you see how difficult it would be to get ranked in the search engines with a less than reputable looking domain and website. This is valuable online real estate and you want everything lined up to earn your rightful place on page one of Google? It;s very attainable but not with free!

11. Small Changes Mean Major Costs – You need a few changes, something looks off, your you text is a bit out of line, you forgot your to add your email address and you want to add your new logo. This is the best news for the free site companies, they know you have little control or access to make any changes. Unlike a user-friendly WordPress style site where you can make a few changes, their platform will require the company to make the changes for you and that means big bucks for them. This is where they make the major costs come in, so on top of what you are already locked into paying they will charge highly for every little change. So now you either have to dig deep and pay up or have to put up with a site you are not happy with and you are locked into a contract you wish you have never laid eyes on. This is one of the biggest reasons done for you free websites get abandoned. Now out-of-pocket having cost money, time and energy people find themselves buying their way out of a costly agreement, leaving your domain (your brand) and having to start with a professional service all over again.  But at least this way you will be the proud owner of your own website and investment in your business.  

12 – Upgrade or Start Over – By now we know that large corporations are making huge profits with ‘free products or services,’ the free is the beginning the “bait” and once you are on the hook  it’s all about the up-sell. Free plans are specifically designed to be basic, even pointless, its like the free car but you need to buy the tires, engine and every upgrade essential to make it work. Now that you are hooked you either upgrade to make it work or you pay dearly to get out and start over. Both very costly. You know you have to by the domain, the hosting at inflated prices and now you realize as you become marketing savvy you need more than the Free plans offer, you need more bandwidth and memory, visitors want speed or  traffic is leaving for efficiency and you have little choice but to upgrade (again)!

13. Your Rates Will Inevitably Increase – Most so-called free tools will not stay free forever. Companies are not in the business of free, they make money and you will eventually get so sick and tired of getting gouged by the inevitable rate increase, you will want out so you can take control of your business. After a while you will notice that the parts of the contract that you are paying for like ads in directories are not bringing you any business. And the reason your tied into that is you needed a free website that has become very costly. Countless free websites owners eventually opt to pay out to end the misery so they can have a site that works for their presence and to grow their business. So when you are sick of the increases and want out be prepared fight for why you should now pay extra to drop this amazing deal. At this point you’ll need to decide whether to keep paying their increases for a pointless website or abandon it, along with all its domain name, any content and customers.

Now You Know the Real Cost of a Free Website It’s Time to Invest in Your Business

If your like most business owners we’re willing to bet that you would rather spend time running and growing your business than trying to figure out how to create a website complete with logo, original relevant content, images not to mention what a hosting and domain is and get the best prices. Not to mention then getting your site ranked in Google to get customers calling for your product and services. That is what an SEO expert does and is a whole skill set unto itself.  I am sure you have done many tasks that could have saved you a little money but this is not a simple DIY solution, you are building a business and starting in solid foundations is key.

The Bottom Line for Your Personal Website

While you likely have many talents you need to focus and grow your business, and to be successful you must have online presence to thrive in the world of  business. You need to build a foundation for success; if you’ve been tempted with a free website the chances are you’re not a web designer or an online marketing seo expert, that is a full-time job in itself and not one you want to take on, you can’t handle every part of your business and do it well. You may have helped others creatively, or  like the idea of trying to create a website and I would rather see you do that than opt for the free. But as we have discovered free is not free and not only the website with endless up-sells you are paying for the service you had to buy to get the site. Not only costly as you pay a company but very costly when your customers couldn’t find you so they went to your competition on the count of this poor website. Your customers are very valuable, they bring referrals, they are the lifeblood of your business and you need them to turn a profit.

You know your time is best spent doing what you do best growing your customer base, selling your services and as a result increasing your revenue. Creating an online web presence for your company takes a trained professional; one who understands how your business should be seen online. Who understand how to market your business, and  how people search and do business online. Marketing experts use cutting edge marketing methods, using seo to get you ranked in Google, and place you right in front of the people who are looking for you.  The Internet is the most powerful means to promote your business worldwide and it’s an opportunity that should not be wasted. Your website marketing company should always be working in your best interest. As any good business just as you want customers for life, we want to build solid relationships with our clients. We keep you informed of the latest market trends, Google requirements  website and handle you marketing needs so you are free to grow a thriving business. If you feel unsure or have doubts about marketing your business its time to learn from people who care about your business. Because your success is our success. Don’t put it off any longer or get sold into a plan that will not serve you, talk to us so we can look at your company’s full online potential. When you know more you’ll feel better and we’ll help you get started on a solid foundation and we’ll grow with your as your business needs. Get in touch with us now. 

Here’s to your success!

 

 

 

 

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