If you have gone to the search engines and conducted a little investigation into what it costs to set up a website by an independent designer (even a college kid trying to make extra money) the results most likely left your head spinning. Don’t feel discouraged. There are companies out there that recognized this hardship, and that stepped up to the plate to deliver with a “homerun of a website” product that is gentle on the pocketbook—the cost is $0.00. But not all free websites are the same. They all have different swings, take different stances, and although many look like they are homeruns, some wind up hitting the foul pole. This article will offer some tips on building a website at no cost in the hopes that readers will be more informed in making their decisions. After all, we all want a good, quality free website that keeps us in the Major League of our industries, and not one that falls short and sends us down to the minors.
Be a Scout
When researching various website companies, take notes on what you like and dislike about them. Make a scouting report on each company, and compare your notes to rule out some of those minor contenders. But before you can really do this, you need to be clear as to what you are, and are not, looking for. Here are some useful tips to take into your consideration
- Does the free website plaster advertisements all over the site, interfering with the design? If it does, this will turn people off from taking you seriously. It looks unprofessional. Sometimes a free website company will have a small advert banner at the very bottom of the screen, which is fine and acceptable. But make sure the advertisement(s) don’t weigh into the girth of your design.
- Does the website company offer hosting, domain names and software? Having 3 different companies to meet these needs can cause a real headache. You are better off choosing a provider that has all the bases covered.
- Does the company have a customer service department that responds to your questions within 24 hours? This is huge. The last thing you want is to go with a company that doesn’t value you as a customer.
- Does the company offer affordable upgrades with more bells and whistles? Often, people will get a free website as a way to test-drive the company before purchasing something more advanced. When a company offers a free website in addition to paid ones, they are making an effort to EARN your business versus just asking for it with no sense of performance.
- Does the free website provider have a fan base on Facebook? If so, make sure they have more than 25,000 members. This proves that they are working really well for a significant number of satisfied customers.
- Make sure the design is original and that you have the power to make changes to it. Avoid getting a cookie-cutter template that resembles 50,000 other sites that are out there.
- Make sure the system is easy to use. You shouldn’t have to have an IT degree to build a website.
Polishing Up that Website with some SEO Techniques
One you have that winner of a website up and running strong, don’t just leave it there swinging at bad pitches. Embracing some useful SEO (search engine optimization) tactics will enable online users to better find you and your services.
Meta descriptions are a great way to do this without having to invest money. In fact, in an article by Web Marketing Today, the author states that Meta descriptions are a great way to get more traffic and they show an example of what one looks like on a Google search engine. But what are they? All they are is an HTML value that is hidden within the code of every one of your webpages. Your visitors will not see these as they navigate through your website. But when they go to Google and search for a service in your industry, and if your site is displayed as an option, a small description of your services will be displayed that encourages them to click on your link as opposed to others.
Most free websites do not permit Meta descriptions. But by investing just a few dollars on an upgraded site from your company, you should be able to use Meta descriptions on each page, as well as an array of other neat little tricks of the trade.
Be an MVP in your Industry
Remember, your website should always display you as an MVP in your field. Whether you are a dentist, own a carpet-cleaning business, or you are a sailing enthusiast and want to connect with others in your sport, your website will give that important first impression. Partnering with a good free website, with affordable upgrade options, is the sure way to secure your place online as an All Star, and keep you swinging hard at good pitches with stellar results each time.