I love free stuff, I mean, who doesn’t? I don’t care what it is (for the most part); if it’s free, I want it. However, I do make some exceptions to my “if it’s free, take it” rule.
Finding a great offer on high quality products/services is much different from finding a deal on poor quality products/services. While I acknowledge that not all inexpensive products are inferior to higher priced products, there are times when spending a significant amount of money upfront is worth the investment. This is especially true when building a website for your business.
Free and cheap doesn’t usually get the job done correctly or completely. Sure, a free trial of new software is a great way to test out something new, but when you’re building a new website and you decide to go the cheapest route possible, you’re bound to run into some serious SEO limitations.
What are these limitations? Here are four commonly associated with free or cheap website builders:
1. Global Title Tags
Global title tags are simply the worst. Foundational SEO is based on title tags and meta descriptions, and without unique titles and descriptions for each page on your site, you’re starting at a disadvantage.
Title tags are where you place your key words, they’re what you see in the SERPs, in your browser and on other websites, and they help identify your site’s pages. According to Moz, title tags are “the second most important on–page SEO element (the most important being overall content).”
When you’re unable to change the title tags, you limit your site’s key words and phrases. And because each title tag should reflect what’s on each page, and should be supported by relevant content, you’re missing out on opportunities to be found under multiple words and phrases.
2. No Place to Insert Google Analytics Code
As I’ve written before, Google Analytics is one of the most important tools to have on your website. Your site could rank number one in the search engines, but without Google Analytics, you’ll never know if this even translates into visitors. Yes, rankings are important. But what’s even more important are what people are doing once they visit your website.
Without Google Analytics, you won’t have the ability to track the number of visitors, how long they stay on the site, the pages they visit, and many other useful statistics. Google Analytics provides you the data needed to interpret how your website. And you need to analyze performance before you can make improvements.
3. It’s a Template
When you build your website using a templated website builder you get a cookie-cutter website. Although there will probably be layout options and color schemes to choose from that will make the site reflect your industry/business, you probably won’t be able to fully customize your site. You might not even be able to move things around, which could get frustrating quickly.
Think of it this way: since you’re choosing a website template, other people and businesses are going to have similar websites and website layouts. In the extreme template website, you might even run into template/boiler-plate content, which is an SEO no-no.
4. You Have to Pay to Upgrade
Many builders will allow you to do the majority of things you need to, for an added charge. So I ask, what’s the point in signing up for a free website, when in the end, you’ll be spending unplanned money. And who knows how much you’ll have to dole out for a site that’s up to par.
A free or extremely cheap website sounds great in theory, but when you think of all the limitations, – especially foundational SEO limitations – is it really worth it? If you’re building a personal website or blog, sure, use a free or cheap template. However, if you want to be seen as a serious business and make an impact online, a free website template is not worth it at all. Your website, and ultimately, your business will suffer.