Are you guilty of this one huge design mistake?
Millions of companies and people fall for it because it’s the shortest, easiest path.
But, as you might expect, taking the quickest route doesn’t lead to success.
In fact, it works much the opposite in this case – it actually permanently damages your ability to get more business from your website.
What is this mistake?
It’s building a free or low-cost template website at one of the many readily available sites that provide such a service. They promote ease by saying “build your site in just 3 simple steps” or “click and drag to design your website” or “we’ll help you design your site for FREE.”
These companies are telling the truth and will deliver on their promises, but what you don’t know is what they’re not telling you – that these websites absolutely ruin your chances of getting serious business from organic search.
Why Cookie-Cutter, Free, and Template Websites Don’t Work
There are many reasons why free website builders and templates are just not a good idea. Which of the following hits home the most with you?
1) You don’t see the big dogs do it – Think about the larger corporations in America – Wal-Mart, General Electric, Nordstrom’s, Google, and some of your own favorites. They know intimately what drives the most business for their online efforts.
Do they use any of these free online web designs? If they cost nothing, don’t they make the most financial sense to use?
There’s a good reason big companies don’t use them. Free/template websites simply don’t drive business as well as custom designs.
2) They can go offline or start charging at any time – Free website design companies or hosts can change their policy abruptly and if you missed their announcement e-mail, your site can be taken down.
If a free website design service gets thousands of customers, do you really think they intend to stay free?
Remember, they also have total control over your website, which means you have to play by their rules!
3) It’s impossible to optimize conversions – While many of the designs look flashy, the simple fact remains they don’t convert visitors into customers. This happens for several reasons:
- Experienced web surfers know when they’re looking at a template website, and they don’t take it seriously because its look blends in with so many other websites.
- The design also isn’t customizable to the extent you need. Seemingly small changes like the placement, color, or text on a call-to-action button (think of a blue “Add-to-cart” button) can make a huge difference with your conversions. With most of these free template web designs, it’s impossible to make small changes like these. CrazyEgg, a blog all about conversion optimization, discusses how this works at WordPress.com.
4) Every website requires seriously hard work – A website’s design is just the beginning of all the work. After that, you have to create content, do the organic marketing, and work on other marketing tactics such as PPC.
A simple 3-click web design won’t write your content or do your marketing for you. Using a free website design only creates the illusion of ease. Case in point: this blog post describes some famous digital entrepreneurs, many of whom run notable blogs, and the hard hours they put in to succeed (often 65+ per week).
5) What if you want to move later on? – Some hosts copyright the template and its graphics. If you aren’t happy with their quality of service, you can move on, but you won’t be able to take your website with you. And, you’ll have to completely redesign it from scratch. You’ll also have to copy all the content over to your new site.
In addition, Google gives preference to older domains in its rankings. Your site’s age and credibility with Google will be lost when you move.
6) Google recommends responsive design – Google made this statement clearly and publicly. You know Google dominates the search market and will continue to do so in the future. Many of these free/template websites aren’t responsive. If you go against what Google publicly recommends, you only hurt the ability of your website to rank well.
The Real Kicker: Your internet marketing Plan Nosedives Before it Starts
It no longer works to have a good web design, write some keywords in your content, and then watch the customers roll in. That worked in the search environment of 10 years ago, but not anymore.
Now, you must have an internet marketing plan that helps you rank highly in organic search or use other forms of advertising such as PPC, banners, videos, or guest blogging.
The bad news is these free template web designs often cripple your internet marketing efforts before they even begin. Noted SEO expert Jill Whalen explains most of them are not search engine friendly at all in the first place. Some that target specific industries, for example, even go as far as offering very similar content. From Google’s perspective, this is a very big no-no, as it removes any content it considers “duplicate content” from its rankings entirely.
Free/template websites are simply not worth the ease.
5 Reasons a Professional Responsive Design Makes More Sense
A custom responsive web design is no longer optional in 2013 and beyond. It truly is in your best short and long-term interests to have a custom responsive design because it:
- Maximizes your sales – You have to stand out online, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so. A professional responsive design represents your business uniquely in a way that capture’s visitor’s attention. Think of it as you would your physical storefront – you make it attractive, organized, and unique to encourage people to enter your store.
- Allows you to optimize conversions for each page – Because a professional does the work, every last detail of your website can be customized. Remember, what appear to be minor details can dramatically impact how many people purchase from your website. Making your phone number a few sizes larger or a different color could cause a dramatic increase in conversions. The key lies in understanding how all the elements on each page work together to drive action, and then fine-tuning each until you determine what works best for your website.
- Displays properly on all major devices – Laptops, desktops, tablet PCs, and smartphones – oh my! All have different screen sizes and a responsive design means your site is designed to display appropriately on all.
- Is easy to maintain – The alternative is to develop separate websites for all major devices. With 1 responsive design, maintenance is made easy for the professional managing your website.
- Reduces costs – All you have to do is maintain a single website. In addition, marketing is done purely for that website. Your site keeps the ability to drive profits, while at the same time minimizing costs.