Wix, Weebly, Square and more all want your money. What you need to know about DIY website builders.
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 and beyond 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?”, or “Where is the closest drug store?” If you are a small business owner and you do not market your products via the internet, you are at a distinct disadvantage.
Disadvantages of DIY Website Builders
DIY Website Builders – What You Need to Know First
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 (carts, SEO, etc) 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 each paying $8 million for one minute. During the 2016 Super Bowl, Go-Daddy (who started it all) dropped out, so 3 DIY website builder companies spent near $5 million for 30 seconds $10 million for 1 minute.. Where do they get the money if this is where you go to “build your free website?? 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. And before you know it, you’ll can 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.
But let’s be clear hear. You are building a site that is not your property. That’s right, Wix Weebly and the rest actually own your text, pictures, logos…the whole site. Read on….it get’s worse.
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.
We are 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.” (hint: it’s not built on Go-Daddy DIY Website Builder).
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?
Look, these are great for a quick site for little league team, but a real business seeking profits?
Not so much.
- First – beware of the DIY Website Builder “review” sites. Many are bogus and lead you to affiliate marketers or a tracking portal to a specific website builder that gets them a kickback.
- 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??? For instance, Wix uses AJAX generated coding, which basically means your URL’s have added unnecessary text in them, making it much more difficult to rank well in search engines. It’s a bad thing since the URL is one of, if not the the very top ranking factor for both Google and Bing.. 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 you are desperately trying to replicate.
- 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 all 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 SEO 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? Well, in nearly every google search there is an Images tab in the universal search bar. So if Google thinks it’s important, maybe you should as well? 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). Hear this out, because this is important. Say you sell sneakers. And your big seller is blue suede Pumas. So try this. Google “blue suede pumas” and click on “Images” on the universal search bar. See all the blue suede pumas? Click on any of them and you’ll end up on a website that sells them with an add to cart button. That won’t happen with your site because that image is blocked from being indexed by Google. In short, having a shopping cart with images that Google will never “see” is pretty useless.
- 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 can provide you with. 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, that does this all day long.
- 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. Is 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/video tagging, etc. 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, we saved the best for last. Let’s say you toiled away, ordered lots of pizza 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 all 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?
Every business should own their website and content. Period. Your website, the content and the images are just as valuable to you as any other business asset. But wait….
In the Wix terms of service; (the fine print)
“(you) allow Wix to use in perpetuity, worldwide and free of charge, any version of your User Website (or any part thereof) for any of Wix’s marketing and promotional activities, online and/or offline, and modify it as reasonably required for such purposes, and you waive any claims against Wix.”
Well that’s kinda scary.
Additionally, think of all the changes to the look and feel of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc over the years…the same holds true on all the DIY website builders. They update all the sites at once. So one day you pull up your site and say “What happened?”
Now I ask, if you know you’ll eventually pay someone to do a professional website, 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.
And finally, since you can’t create a sub-domain for a blog, your blog has to be on an external site, negating the benefits of any SEO and confusing Google by having two desperate sites linked. In essence, you are locked out of effective content marketing.
In a word, stupid.
One last thing. Google has been recommending for well over a year, that all sites should be HTTPS where the “S” stands for secure. No DIY website builders offer it, even though Google recommends it and has gone as far to say that it helps with SEO as it’s one of the ranking factors.
It’s really hard to fathom why these DIY website builders work so hard to kill anything associated with SEO.
And today, with smartphone usage soaring, local SEO and global SEO are so important for your online presence.
Now I am sure that some will say that we are biased, since among other digital marketing that Web It 101 does for business owners, we also design state-of-the-art mobile-friendly websites. But the truth is that, indirectly, these DIY website creators have brought us 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, Web It 101 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 Finger-Trap that costs you $ every month with little or no return.
But don’t say we didn’t warn you.
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