You get what you pay for
Over the last six months or so there has been a big resurgence of ads on both TV and online offering free or very low cost 'build-it-yourself' web sites.
Along with companies like AT&T and Web.com, one of the biggest advertisers is Google. They are simply reselling a service that has been around for many years from Intuit, the makers of Quickbooks.
For a startup or small business this offer sounds ideal; however, as with any advertising, it is all about image, and you get what you pay for.
The bottom line is that these companies are not in business to give things away, but to make money, and they achieve this in one of three ways:
1. Forced advertising - they place banner ads on your site and they collect the money 2. Simple bulk sell - they make money selling a lot of something cheaply or 3. The nickel and dime approach - where there are additional charges to remove banners or for additional features or upgrades.
Whichever method is used, the fact remains that the service being offered is very basic, with little more capability than being able to put a few pictures and text on a few pages.
Some companies might want more functionality, such as having a blog, uploading video to their site, linking to Facebook or managing an email newsletter. In this case, the choice is to either go elsewhere, such as using YouTube and Blogger, or to pay extra for that service 'level,' if there is one.
Because of the hassle of having to update things in several places, most people just pay the extra fees.
One of the most important, and most expensive, things these sites lack is the ability to achieve high search engine results. As any site owner knows, just having a web site is not enough. People must find you if you want to stay in business.
One client came to us after having one of the free Intuit sites for around 18 months. As far as they knew, they hadn't had any calls from it, and could not be found on searches at all.
When a site can't be found, once again, the owner has to make a choice if they are to get visitors, but only a few options remain in these cases.
One option is to find a professional web development company and have a new site created. Although this means spending more money, and sometimes involves starting over, this really is the best long-term option.
If you have put many months or even years of work into your site, this is a hard decision. Before you take that risk you need to be sure that the company you choose can get you seen, and you're not just wasting more money. We display logs from sites we have developed and we welcome prospective clients to call our current clients.
Even then, sometimes the thought of having to rework a site is a hassle, and the business decides to stay with their budget site. This leaves only one other choice: to pay every month for 'Pay-per-Click' advertising, such as Google Adwords.
I make no secret of the fact that I feel that it is unfair to expect a small business that needs to conserve money to pay sometimes thousands of dollars a month in the hope that they might get visitors. Also, getting hits doesn't mean any sales or calls if the site gives a cheap impression.
Our WebUpdate sites start at $2,500 and can expand and grow as your business grows, adding more features and functions as needed.
If your site is not bringing you the results you need, now is the perfect time to consider our WebUpdate systems, which employ advanced marketing, SEO, promotion, and security features designed to give businesses the best competitive edge online.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design,
the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.
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