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The internet has transformed everything from how people handle daily tasks to the way businesses carry out their operations. At the epicenter of the internet are websites. And it goes without saying that it’s hard to survive in today’s competitive environment without a website, or at the very least an online presence.
When it comes to websites, one of the most popular trends in the market is the creation of free websites. There are plenty of companies that will literally create a free website for you. While on the surface it may seem like a good way to cut costs, there’s nothing further from the truth. Here are a few reasons why a free website is not always a good idea.
Having a free website strips you of the power and ownership of a decisive part of your venture; your website. That means the free web service can take away your freedom at any time. If the website company decides to cease their operations and go, you’ll have no access to your website. Moreover, many free web hosting services don’t reveal to you that once you subscribe to their services, you are in fact giving them the rights to your website and the content on it.
A free website will only appear to be “free”. Usually, you’ll be required to pay for some features down the road. The “free’ tag is designed to lure potential prospects so you’re locked in at the initial stage only to be charged later. Moreover, many free website providers turn out to be limited trials where you’ll be asked to pay for it after a while. If you signed up using your credit card, it’s not uncommon for them to charge you without any warning.
Having a web address that doesn’t look professional may do more harm than good to your bottom line. Potential customers and visitors to your site will have a hard time taking your business seriously if you don’t have a proper domain name. And when you ask the free web company for a custom domain, they’ll probably charge more than the average cost of a domain.
A common practice for free web services is to host several websites on the same server. Consequently, the server may be overwhelmed leading to stability issues, slowdowns and downtime. Unstable websites create bad user experiences and lead to lower ranking on search engines.
Free websites are likely to negatively impact your online visibility, which is the main purpose of having a website in the first place. Free hosts don’t provide opportunities for SEO and can harm your search engine ranking. Due to lack of credibility and trust, search engines will give less priority to free domains. In fact, free websites have slow loading speeds, which is bad for SEO.
Trying to customize a website based on a free template can be an arduous and time-consuming process. Many free templates still require a professional to deal with occasional broken parts, a complicated user interface and potential website breaks, among other issues. Also, Free templates are based on a cookie-cutter approach and often require lots of extra code to provide many options suitable for different needs. Bloated code eventually contributes to slower loading speeds.
Companies offering free websites usually try to make some money in unethical ways. After all, these services also need to make money and they often engage in illegal ways to keep their businesses running. Some free web companies will find ways to make money by selling your personal information, email addresses and other valuable data to other companies. That’s why it’s crucial to read the fine print of any contract as most free website services bank on the fact that people rarely read the details.
Free web services will rarely have security personnel and most likely won’t secure their servers. That creates a security loophole that makes your website an easy target for hacks and attacks. This is especially risky if you have sensitive data on your website as you could lose sensitive information.
Majority of free website services rely on advertisements that are more often than not absolutely unrelated to your business. These ads can be intrusive and distracting to your site visitors. While you’re busy creating content and building your site, the free web service gets paid for the ads. Even worse, you can end up with a competitor’s ads running on your website.
Once you try out a free service and later on realize that you’re unhappy with the service, migrating your content can be tough. The bad news is, most free services won’t allow you to transfer your site content-which means you either stick with them or build a new website from scratch. Creating even a basic website requires a significant amount of time.
If you’re running a company, a free website is only good for one thing: it will show you potential clients that you have nothing unique to offer. You won’t be able to stand out because a free website won’t grab the attention of site visitors. Most times, you only get one chance to grab your visitor’s interest, make a good first impression and convert them into customers. Pulling that off with a free website can be a stretch.