DIY Website Builders – What You Need to Know – This is a list of the most common disadvantages of DIY website builders that you easily find online.
The importance of an effective web presence in 2016 cannot be understated. Walk down any street and you’ll see people asking their phone (either Siri or Google Now) a question such as “Where is the closest Chinese restaurant?” If you are a small business owner and you do not market your products via the internet, you are at a distinct disadvantage.
DIY Website Builders – What You Need to Know
I talk to small business owners frequently and one of the things that I hear occasionally is some businesses have a desire to do it themselves. My response is usually “Have at it and we’ll talk again in a few months.” Most see the light if we talk a bit longer, but some are convinced it’s a viable solution.
Now I understand if you think drag and drop is all there is to it, then wanting to do as much as possible for oneself when setting up a small business is completely natural. Or maybe you think it’s a good way to save some money (actually in the end it ends up costing you more).
But the problem is the commercials make it look easy. And a very, very basic website is dirt cheap, but the add-ons pile up and it costs more and more and more. This is where do-it-yourself website builders peddled through large hosting companies, such as GoDaddy and the cloud-based web development platforms like Wix or Weebly or Squarespace, or Web and many more than you can count seem like a good deal. But let’s pause for a minute.
During the Super Bowl in 2015, four DIY website builders ran spots during the game, at $4 million for 30 seconds. Where do they get the money if these are damn near free? You’d think that by building your website on your own, you are saving the fees associated with hiring a professional website/SEO firm. You know it takes time, and time you have, but money you don’t.
You can guess that every time you run into a roadblock, the answer isn’t that the free product is broken, the answer is up-sell. Before you know it, you’ll be well over $100 a month, for as long as you have the site, and it still won’t look professional. Worse, if you stop paying, there goes the site. Maybe that explains why there were more DIY Website Builder commercials during the Super Bowl than car companies, beer companies or soda companies. Let that sink in.
I’m writing this to tell you that having your website built by a professional website developer that has earned his or her stripes and has a good deal of experience in the SEO field as well, should be your first priority when it comes to initializing and maintaining your Web Presence. There are many pitfalls when it comes to building a website on your own that the peddlers of these do-it-yourself website building services are never going to disclose to you. It’s obviously in their best interest that you remain completely oblivious of the perils of DIY website builders. I’m here to tell you what you don’t know CAN hurt you.
Some of the (many) Disadvantages of DIY Website Builders
But before I get to the list, if there is only 1 thing you take away from this, let it be this; “No successful business has a website built on the back of Go-Daddy (or any DIY), not even Go-Daddy’s main corporate site.” Take away? If it’s not a good enough platform for a DIY Website Builders Company site…why is it suddenly good enough for your business?
- The SEO with DIY website builders is sloppy – and not geared toward anything remotely useful. If you are thinking you would like to SEO your site after it is built, you definitely do not want to use a DIY Website builder. Turn and run, fast and far, before it’s too late. Keep in mind too…that every time that you see “SEO” here, think to yourself “what if I built a site and no one ever saw it” OK??? None of these DIY website builder have serious SEO and Local SEO is nothing but a pipe dream. You can bet the farm that they won’t be getting you on Goggle Maps like any real web design company would do for you. Sadly, That’s just one example.
- Frustrating – The creative and technical controls available with many of the “drag and drop” services will frustrate even savvy computer users, and novices will pull hair out. The best that can be said is that Do It Yourself Website Building is a very lethargic process. It’s not a stretch to say that if you own a dog grooming service, you’ll look at other dog grooming sites, and you’ll quickly get frustrated trying make your site look professional, and after a while (days turn into weeks turn into months) you’ll understand that “drag and drop” isn’t coding in HTML5 and CSS3, so it’s never going to look like a “real” website.
- SEO Oh, but wait!…but there is some SEO after all. For the site building company who’ll be advertising on your business website. Most of these cloud-based services will offer you a low price in exchange for allowing them to run ads on your site (which have more SEO than your own site). These ads link to other sites of their customers, which in turn link back to their own top level domain. This SEO works wonderfully….for them. Bottom line, if you want a website that looks professional, gives a great user experience and plays well with Google, a Wix (or any DIY) website is not for you.
- They don’t offer Blogs. Most business websites have a blog or update page on their menu. A blog is a great SEO tool that lets you drill down to specific products or services you offer, and with SEO on the blog, your digital footprint grows every day. Nope. Nothing to see here…move along. They do allow you to link to your blog on some other domain, but there is no value in that. Again, a major fail in basic SEO. And you’re locked out of any future content marketing initiatives.
- Images and Video – Sure you can upload images and video, but again, you can’t do any SEO on them. These platforms don’t allow Google (or Bing/Yahoo) to index pictures or video. How important is that? I was trying to describe this great pizza shop where I grew up in upstate NY to someone in Seattle. Finally, I got frustrated and asked them to google it; Chester Cab Pizza Rochester NY. “OK, I said…now hit images. Dead silence followed by “Oh my God, that looks good!” Now they know up in Seattle what a Chicago style stuffed pizza from my life long ago looks like. There is great value in image and video SEO, but you won’t find it on the DIY site builders. It doesn’t exist. This alone should be a deal killer. And worse, there is no image/video SEO because they don’t allow Google or Bing to even SEE the pictures/videos on your self-built website. They block the bots from even seeing them. Now if that isn’t a deal killer, read on.
- No CSS/HTML editing – it’s their template or bust. WHY NO EDITING? They don’t want you to turn on the image indexing. If you are the Dog Groomer we mentioned, they don’t want the “allow” tag turned on for indexing that image you uploaded. They are actually “anti-SEO” SHAME ON THEM.
- Limited navigational hierarchy – menus only go up to three deep.
- Limited E-Commerce – Free carts are extremely limited, serious upgrade cash gets you only slightly better options. Most don’t allow many variations, for example even the highest, most expensive premium plans on WIX have a limit of 10 variations (think colors or sizes).
- No Password Protection – This is stone-age for real – you are totally unable to have any exclusive content on your website. Have a cart? Check. Send a password to a customer to download an MP3, or PDF, or e-book? FORGET IT.
- Antiquated Graphics – Some DIY Website Builders still use Flash, which Google hates, Androids despise and Apple just chokes on. For instance, a brief survey showed Wix and some others with templates that use Flash. Worse they are not labeled or identified. So you’ll never know if Google will slap a Flash warning on your site to visitors. Doubt me?…Google it.
- No integrated web statistics tools like any real hosting/web design company has. Maybe they don’t want you to see how lousy their SEO services are (most DIY services charge from hefty fees for “SEO Services”, which simply don’t work too well; it’s a money grab).
- No email support – Huh??? If your idea of customer service is an average telephone hold time of 40 minutes…Go-Daddy’s just your ticket. You are not allowed to email them. Why? They don’t use email. Only phone service. (I guess it’s because they will never give you a hard answer in writing.) And just try to find a support email or phone number on the Wix site. Really. Try it.
- DIY Website builders and “what time is it?” – The learning curve for someone to use these cloud-based services can be quite high. If you thought “cruising the web” was a time waster…try building your own site. If time is indeed money, this can end up being more expensive than actually hiring someone to do it for you.
- Amateur branding – How good are your Photoshop skills? You’ll want a nice, crisp new logo right? It’s not just the learning curve for site building, but also business logo work, picture manipulation and overlays. Oh, too bad, these Do It Yourself sites don’t have Photoshop tutorials. An amateur logo on a build it yourself drag and drop website builder. It that the digital image you want in 2016? In the digital age we live in? Really?
- You get what you pay for – When the service you are receiving is free or “nearly free”, you cannot expect much in return (notable exception; free kittens). These sites are very, very basic and do not tend to have a very professional look and feel to them. There is only simple text SEO with no tags, alt, desc, H1, H2, image tagging. Customer support is next to non-existent. Worse, and I hope you’re sitting down for this.
Who owns the site? Who owns the code? You guessed it! You know where this is going.
Obviously, I saved the best for last. Let’s say you toiled away, ordered lots of pizza (from Chester Cab because they DO ship nationwide) and built a website via a DIY builder like VistaPrint or any other DIY website builders. Down the road a bit, as your business is beginning to grow, you decide you want your site to move to a more robust platform. All of the work that you did on the design of the original site will be going straight down the toilet. You know why? Yup, it belongs to the DIY website builder company. You want to take that code and move it to another platform? Not happening! The company where you built the site owns the code. It’s really not your site at all. You sure you still want to move that web site to another platform? Okay, but you will be starting from scratch. Didn’t read the fine print?
Now I ask, if you know you’ll eventually pay someone to do a professional site, save the time and effort and do it right the first time, because the benefits are immediate. More importantly, when you pay a website developer, you actually get what you pay for. It’s YOUR SITE NOW. You can easily take it and use any hosting your heart desires, because it’s YOURS.
Economies of Scale
Web development, Digital Marketing, and SEO services are going to cost you a bit more in comparison to the DYI fees. These DIY companies enjoy “economies of scale”. This economic principal states that by producing a higher number of products or services, the price of said production naturally trends lower. The more products or services you sell, the cheaper you are able to sell them, regardless of their value. GoDaddy, Wix and all the rest have new customers coming in every day simply because of the large number of web pages in existence, most of whom have a link coming back to their top level domains. In other words, these big companies are using their existing clients to SEO their own pages and bring in even more unknowing customers. That is why it makes sense for all those DIY website builders to each spend $8 million a minute during the big game. And that snowball continues to roll downhill, steamrolling over innocent small business owners in its path.
My fervent belief is that building one’s own website, for marketing purposes, is almost never in small business owners’ best interest. TABB has rescued many small businesses from these “services”. There are exceptions to every rule and I’m sure there are people out for whom the benefits of these services outweigh the costs. However, they are few and far between. Almost everyone that I have spoken to who has built a web site on their own has had to have it redesigned at some point, and for most it’s sooner rather than later.
Now I am sure that some will say that we are biased, since among other digital marketing that TABB does for business owners, we also design websites. But the truth is that, indirectly, these DIY website creators have brought TABB a lot of business in the form of website redesigns. To get a site out of Wix and other cloud based services is a very difficult process and any transfer off Go Daddy hosting comes in choked with viruses. In most cases, once a site has been created via any of the DIY website builders, it is truly best practices to start over from scratch.
Finally, as a Digital Marketing Firm with a solid history, TABB tends to see things from a “Google Best Practices” frame of mind, and with an understanding of these best practices as they relate to SEO and search returns.
As such, it’s a civic duty to warn folks that “Google Best Practices” and “DIY website builders” are as different as night and day. Add to that the inability to carry YOUR FILES off to another platform and it’s a Chinese Fingertrap that costs you $ every month with little or no return.