Why Having a “Free Website” is a Bad Idea

Why Having a “Free Website” is a Bad Idea

What Do We Mean by Free Website?

Most beginners who want to start their own website want to keep the cost low which is understandable.

So you typically Google the term free website and find many companies offering free website hosting services for free.

The thought of having free web hosting and building your site without paying anything is tempting.

Until you get a reality check. Once you sign up to these so-called “free website services”, you slowly start discovering the limitations and many of them turn out to be not free at all.

If you or your friend is thinking about getting a free website, then stop now.

And read these 36 reasons why free websites are almost always a bad idea.

1. Extremely slow websites

Most free website hosting providers put hundreds of websites sharing the same server. This makes all their websites load at very low speeds. Slow websites create bad user experience and are bad for SEO.

2. Unprofessional web address

Having a website address like mysmallbusiness.Freewebsite.com does not look professional at all. Visitors to your website and potential customers would find it quite difficult to take your website seriously when you don’t even have a proper domain name.

And when you ask these companies for a custom domain, you usually have to pay a premium – something like $19 – $25 for a domain which normally costs $10.

3. Trial Service is Not Really Free

Many of these free website services often turn out to be limited trials. After a while you are asked to pay for it. In most cases, this price is usually way higher than normal WordPress hosting services. If you added a credit card during signup, then they can charge you without giving you any warning.

4. Hidden charges for free website

Like any other business, these free website companies need to make money too. Some of them charge their users for additional services like image hosting, email accounts, FTP access, website transfer, etc. These charges are often outrageously high.

5. They can lock down your data

Many users who start with a free website and then want to move to a paid service, find it impossible to move their website data. These service providers do not offer any tools to easily migrate your site. Users end up paying freelancers to manually export their content which can quickly increase your bill.

6. Irrelevant advertisements on your website

Most of these free website services are supported by advertisements. You create content and build your website, but they get paid for the ads. Often these ads are distracting, intrusive, and look ugly.

The worst part is, sometimes your savvy competitors can then pay these free website hosting companies to advertise on your website. Talk about sabotaging your business.

7. They can shut down your website

The terms and conditions of these services clearly state that they can shutdown your website at anytime without providing you a reason. If they shutdown a website, they usually don’t give your data or provide you a way to save your content.

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8. These companies can disappear at anytime

At any time, the free website company can decide to pack up their business and go. They would simply shutdown their servers, and you will loose your website and all the data. Their terms of service give them full legal protection to do so.

9. You will lose your site address

If they decide to close the service or shutdown your website, then you will loose your web address. Most of the time it is a subdomain associated with the service. You cannot replicate that address or redirect users to your new site elsewhere.

10. They can sell your information

Remember that these services need to make money somehow to remain in the business. A good rule of thumb is if you are not paying for it, then you are the product.

These companies find other ways to make money such as selling your email address, personal information, and your website address to other companies. Their terms and conditions which no one really reads provide them total legal immunity.

11. No site building tools

Unlike a real web hosting service, these companies offer very limited tools and services to their users. Using these tools the website you will create will look even more unprofessional.

12. No WordPress

Many of these free services do not allow you to install WordPress on your free website. WordPress requires a little more resources than a free website service can afford.

13. Limited WordPress

Even if they allow you to host WordPress, their servers are simply not capable of running it. You will come across many errors, and it will ruin your WordPress experience.

14. Malware distribution

Free website services are notorious for distributing malware. This could be due to their poor security, or they could be doing it for monetary benefits. In either case, it hurts your website’s reputation and SEO.

15. You may become part of a link farm

The reason why these services keep disappearing and then reappearing is because they try to generate money using unethical methods. Building link farms is one such practice where they sell thousands of pages created by their users to spammers, fake drugs and gambling sites, online scams, etc.

16. Limited bandwidth

Bandwidth is the amount of data transferred from server to user browser. It costs money and most free websites come with a very limited bandwidth caps.

17. Low disk storage

Free website companies host hundreds of websites sharing same server and hard disks. They usually give you very limited storage to store your data. When you reach that limit, you are often asked to pay for more storage.

18. Vulnerable to hacking attempts

Hacked websites

Due to poor security, free websites are often more vulnerable to hacking attempts. If your site is hacked, it will be a lot more difficult to get it recovered because these companies give you very limited access to your own files and data.

19. HTML only sites with limited number of pages

Some of these free website companies offer only a limited number of pages on your website. If you want to add more pages, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan.

20. Low credibility among your users

When your site is hosted on a free service, your users will feel less inclined to trust it. If users are not comfortable sharing their information, then it will kill the whole purpose of you creating a website.

21. Limited design choices

Design and layouts

Unlike a self-hosted WordPress site where you can choose from thousands of WordPress themes, free websites offer only a handful of poorly designed templates. You cannot use your own designs or use any other design from the web.

22. No help or customer service

These free websites offer no help to users. You will have to setup your site on your own with the help of very limited and poorly presented documentation. You are pretty much on your own if you can’t figure it out.

23. You can’t run advertisements or make money

Even though your free website company runs their own ads on your website, they do not allow you to run ads or make money from your website. You will not be able to add affiliate links or add Adsense to your website.

24. There are no backups

There is no concept of regular backups on these free websites. They do not backup your data and if something bad happens to your site, there is no way for you to restore your data.

25. Difficult to get rid off

The companies offering these services often make money from content created by users like you. They intentionally make it difficult for you to delete your own website. This means your website will remain on their servers, and you will have a hard time removing it.

26. No statistics or decent analytics

With a good hosting company, you can get free statistics about your site’s visitors. You can even install Google Analytics or any other traffic counters. On free websites, they do not allow you to add Google Analytics because they run their own analytics code on your website.

27. You will be targeted with email offers

Remember that these companies need to cover their costs by making money using alternative methods. They will continuously email you with special offers. Not to mention that they could sell your email address to other marketing companies as well.

28. No support for mobile devices

You cannot update your website from your mobile or hand-held devices. Free website companies mostly have their dashboards designed for desktop. This will make it harder to update your site from mobile.

29. No responsive designs

Most free website companies offer website designs that are very old and do not work on mobile phones. Mobile users make a significant portion of internet traffic. By not having a responsive design you will lose all those users.

30. No branded email

You cannot create email accounts with your own domain name. This means you will have to use your gmail or hotmail email account which does not look very professional.

31. No contact forms or email forwards

Every website on the internet needs a good contact form. These free website companies do not have a way for you to add custom contact forms. You also don’t get to forward emails received on their own poorly configured form scripts.

32. Limited file upload features

With paid hosting companies, you can upload unlimited files to your site using an FTP client or media uploader in WordPress. Free website companies only offer you a web based interface where you can upload one file at a time.

34. No way to setup redirects

With WordPress you can set up redirection in many different ways. This is a very useful way to maintain your site’s SEO scores. With free websites, you cannot setup any kind of redirects at all. Even if you move to a paid service later, you will not be able to redirect users from your free website.

35. Investing time on free website is unwise

If you have any serious intention of building something on the web, then you should never start with a free website. As you have read in this article, they are unreliable, unsafe, difficult, and severely limit your growth options.

36. Not even for practice

Free websites are terrible, even if you just want to practice.

 

Author

YOUR ECOMMERCE WEBSITE: SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY VS. SEO

YOUR ECOMMERCE WEBSITE: SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY VS. SEO

You know you need to rank well to be a successful online store. You’ve heard the term, search engine optimization (SEO), but did you know that there’s a difference between “search engine friendly” and SEO?SEO for ecommerce is especially important, but it is only one way to rank at the top of the search engine results. Being search engine friendly is also an important method for maintaining a strong digital marketing foundation.

SEO VS. SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY

SEO is something you do – you conduct and improve SEO for your site through things like link building, producing content, increasing domain authority, and so on. This can take time, which is something that, as a stakeholder in your business, is a very limited resource. Making your ecommerce site search engine friendly is different from SEO.

“SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY FIRST”

In responsive web design, there’s a phrase commonly used: “Mobile first.” This means designing a website with “mobile first” in mind – building the website to meet the needs and requirements for mobile usersfirst, rather than creating the site for desktop browsing and adapting that for mobile devices after-the-fact. Google even launched a mobile friendly algorithm update that favors websites that are “mobile friendly.” For this update, using responsive design isn’t enough. Google has specific criteria that sites must meet in order to be mobile friendly. SEO and search engine friendliness are similar to this.

For digital marketing, it’s important to build your website with a “search engine friendly first” type mentality. Meaning create content, design the user experience, and manage your website with being search engine friendly from the beginning. Creating your website to be search engine friendly from the get-go will save time, increase the likelihood of ranking faster, and make your life easier. It’s also much easier and faster to work with a site that was built with a strong foundation than it is to try to salvage a site that doesn’t follow best practices for ranking.

RANKING & SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLINESS

How users interact with your website can affect your ranking on Google. To be search engine friendly, it’s important to create your ecommerce site in a way that is easy for users to use, navigate, has distinct calls to action, and presents clear, concise information that can be consumed in a matter of seconds (people will spend under 10 seconds determining if your site is contains the info they need or not).

Think of it this way: Google’s goal is to be the #1 search engine. To achieve this, it must provide the most relevant, useful results and fulfill the user’s search query. If someone using Google does a search, clicks on a website, and then immediately leaves that site (this is called a “bounce”), Google can assume that the website was not what the user was looking for and rank the site lower. So metrics like click through rate, time on site, and bounce rate do matter.

HOW TO BUILD A SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY WEBSITE

So what are some things to keep in mind when making your ecommerce site search engine friendly? Check out this list of the top areas to address when building a search engine friendly online store – click the links for more detailed info on each of these aspects:

  • Fresh content and updates
  • Product descriptions
  • Navigation
  • URLs

These are all key things to consider when building your search engine friendly ecommerce website. Ready to tackle SEO? Read up on some of the SEO basics for ecommerce store owners.

 

Author : Lisa Arrington

What is CMS

content-management-systemContent Management Systems have become one the internet’s most powerful web developer tools since PHP.

In a market where websites need to be built faster and easier, many developers are turning to Open Source CMS to get the job done. Unfortunately there are now thousands of CMS’s floating around the web and finding the right one has become somewhat of an ordeal.

This article will discuss how developers can find the right CMS for any occasion and will give a review of some of the best CMS’s I have discovered, as well as recommendations on which CMS to avoid like the plague.

WHAT IS A CMS

A Content Management System (CMS) is a Web application that uses a database (usually MySQL) or other methods to create, edit, and store HTML content in a manageable way. Content is created and edited on the web in an administration portion of the web application (referred to as the Backend). The resulting content is then displayed to the viewers on the regular site (referred to as the Frontend).

WHY SHOULD I USE A CMS

There are several possible reasons for using a Content Management System, but the main reason for using a CMS is to make creating and editing of content simple and easy. Often developers forget that this is the main purpose of a CMS and in search of more and more functionality, they cripple themselves (or their customers).

Content doesn’t just include text however. Sometimes the content you need on a site is a contact form or user authentication system. The trick is to find the CMS that provides the functionality without sacrificing ease of use for yourself or, depending on the situation, your customer. A good CMS will allow you to spend more time focused on the design of the frontend then on implementing extensions or functionality.

Social Media & Search Engine Marketing

The two fields of social media and search are constantly evolving, with plenty of changes that prompt shifts in consumer and marketer behavior.

In order to succeed, you should adapt to these changes and employ the latest and most effective strategies.

The following are 15 social media and search engine marketing trends in 2016 and what you should do to stay ahead of the curve:

1. Mobile optimization is a must.

Last year, mobile generated more traffic than desktop and laptop search. With virtually everyone using their smartphone or tablet to find information online, it goes without saying that business owners must cater to the needs of their mobile audience to generate leads and increase conversions.

If your website still isn’t optimized for mobile, then you risk losing out to your
competitors. This is reinforced by Google’s Mobilegeddon update, which favors mobile-friendly websites.

Be sure you use responsive web design to provide the best user experience to your visitors regardless of the device they’re using.

Smart insights mobile optimised

2. Voice search introduces huge changes in keyword research.

Digital assistants have become more popular among mobile users over the past couple of years, thanks to their much-improved functionality.

Siri, Now and Cortana are making the lives of users so much more convenient. But this presents a new challenge to marketers as they must now optimize for voice search.

People use different search terms when speaking and typing. Voice searches lean toward long-tail keywords, so be sure to include these terms to increase your chances of ranking.

3. Local SEO will be even more important.

With the launch of My Business, Google places even more importance to local
SEO.

There have been significant changes in how Google presents search results for local terms. Different search elements are used to provide immediate information regarding local businesses.

It is imperative to have your business listed on Google to improve search visibility. Google My Business is a great place to get started, allowing you to control multiple accounts from one central location.

4. Social posts get ranked higher.

It’s a good move to try to rank your blog posts and universal assets (videos, images, news, etc) on the results pages, but this year you shouldn’t forget to rank your social posts as well.

Many marketers are already utilizing social media to gain more visibility in search engines. When customers enter your company name, you must make sure that your social media profiles are seen on the first page. This should be further leveraged for your reputation management and monitoring. Various social media sites also now encourage long form content, most notably Facebook with their revamped Notes feature.

Various social media sites also now encourage long form content, most notably Facebook with their revamped Notes feature.

5. App store optimization is crucial.

One study shows that in 2015, 52% of time spent online was on mobile apps. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as people tend to prefer using apps over surfing mobile websites due to better functionality.

If you have a business app, optimizing for the app store is crucial to enhance visibility. Tons of apps get created every day, making it more difficult than ever to stand out.

It’s vital to use in-app analytics as well to measure conversions, click through rates and app open rates.

6. Learn the new on-page SEO.

When talking about on-page SEO, what immediately comes to mind are content optimization, internal linking and improving site structure.

But now, there are more factors to consider to ensure that your on-page SEO is in check. These include click-through rates, engagement, social signals and relevant content. By measuring these important site metrics, you can see which areas of your site need improvements.

These are also used by search engines when ranking web pages, so look beyond conventional on-page SEO strategies and be sure these factors are included in your next optimization campaign.

7. Sell on social.

Different social media sites have enabled advertisers to sell directly on their
platforms. Facebook and Pinterest, in particular, have introduced “Buy Now” features. This is a fantastic opportunity to reach your target audience and increase conversions. It’s a win-win situation since social media users can now buy products without even leaving the app, allowing for a great user experience. Without question, more social platforms will follow suit this 2016.

This is a fantastic opportunity to reach your target audience and increase conversions. It’s a win-win situation since social media users can now buy products without even leaving the app, allowing for a great user experience. Without question, more social platforms will follow suit this 2016.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if buy buttons become very prominent in advertising campaigns by this year’s holiday season.

8. Enhancements in in-app functionality.

Mobile apps have come so far. It’s amazing how much you can do without ever leaving the app. Developers continue to make innovations and add new functionalities to their apps.

Facebook, for instance, introduced a lot of new features last year such as Instant Articles and automatic video playing when scrolling. They are now making their own digital assistant. Canvas.Facebook.com is by unique invitations only, but will come onto the market, full-force.

Twitter, Instagram and other platforms refuse to fall behind, promising to have plenty of things in store for their users. By making improvements in in-app functionality, conversion rates skyrocket, so it’s essential to make enhancements in your app to experience a boost in ROI.

9. Take advantage of new publication options.

Facebook created a game-changer when they launched Instant Articles. This is their way of presenting users with content while ensuring that they wouldn’t leave the app. Instant Articles load measurably quicker than regular web links, thus improving user experience.

Major publishers are now using this feature to reach their target audience. Twitter is about to release a similar feature called Project Lightning. Check out these new publication options and see how you can utilize them to generate new leads and improve conversions.

10. Videos will continue to dominate.

YouTube still receives a massive amount of hits per day. Facebook receives 8 billion
video views daily as of November 2015.

These two facts alone prove how much online users love watching videos. Plenty of studies also show that content within videos have higher engagement rates compared to those that only contain plain text.

It’s recommended to find ways to present information to your audience through entertaining videos. Trying to rank these videos on the results pages can also drive a significant amount of traffic to your website.

11. In-the-moment content will surge in popularity.

By nature, social media are “in-the-moment,” with users eager to share what
they’re doing as of the moment. But over the past couple of years, live streaming has become very popular. Periscope, the most popular live streaming online platform, allows users to record a short moment of their lives and share it

Periscope, the most popular live streaming online platform, allows users to record a short moment of their lives and share it with the world. Snapchat and Instagram have already jumped on the bandwagon. This could mean huge changes in how you use social media. Instead of scheduling posts in advance, you might want to consider posting in-the-moment updates and take advantage of the fact that millions of online users love this kind of content.

This could mean huge changes in how you use social media. Instead of scheduling posts in advance, you might want to consider posting in-the-moment updates and take advantage of the fact that millions of online users love this kind of content.

12. Dark traffic gradually becomes clearer.

If you’re using Google Analytics, then you know how frustrating it is to try to decipher dark traffic—the kind of traffic whose source you do not know. Analytics simply includes it under direct traffic. This can affect your marketing campaigns. As a marketer, you want to know as much as possible about your audience.

Thankfully, dark traffic has gradually come to light over the past few months. Digital marketers expect that this year will mark the end of dark traffic, with analytics tools getting more precise information regarding their source.

13. Link building continues to be effective (think SEO).

Many say that link building should be avoided altogether, especially after the Penguin update that demolished millions of websites last year. But links are arguably the most important ranking factor. As long as links are used by search engines for ranking web pages, they will remain effective.

Just keep in mind that when it comes to links, quality trumps quantity. Be sure your links are contextual and relevant.

Also, don’t forget to optimize your anchor text ratio. Avoid using the same keywords as your anchor text to avoid any spam detector.

14. Long form social content will become huge.

Short messages are often published on social media, with brands preferring to post a concise description or summary of their post and then placing a link to the target URL. But social media sites are encouraging users to publish posts directly on their platforms.

LinkedIn has recently ramped up their long form content publishing. Facebook has also revamped Notes, one feature which had not received a lot of love from the social giant for many years.Blogging on social media will become a huge trend in 2016.

Blogging on social media will become a huge trend in 2016. This is a significant change in content marketing which makes it easier for readers to find the information they need.

15. Advertising costs will rise.

It is now more difficult than ever to increase visibility both on search engines and
social media. This is largely due to increased competition. For the same reason, advertising costs are expected to rise this 2016. Social media sites are also throttling organic visibility to make brands purchase ads.

While you can still set up a successful online marketing campaign with a limited budget, it helps to be prepared and allow for some room for extra expenses particularly on the advertising front.

Conclusion:

These trends will permeate the social media and search engine marketing landscape over the course of the year. Some of the biggest names in the industry including Google, Facebook and Twitter are already releasing new feature after new feature, improving the overall experience of their users while simultaneously keeping marketers on their toes as they try to adapt to all the changes.

 

Credit:  2016 DIGITAL MARKETING TRENDS