In the modern world, having a website is crucial for any business looking to establish a presence online. However, simply having a small business website by itself is not enough; it needs to be effective, well-designed, search optimised and supported by other services in order to truly benefit the business. While a budget website may seem like a cost-effective solution, there are so many reasons why businesses should avoid getting one. Here we will discuss just a few of those reasons.
Poorly Designed Websites
We have come across a whole range of poorly designed websites, with clients often coming to us asking why their websites haven’t done very much for them and what we can do to help them. Some websites do look quite nice and modern at first glance, only to reveal many issues at closer inspection, while others are just out dated, uninspiring, lacking functionality and even basic information about the business. We’ve seen small business websites before where we’ve had to go hunting around them trying to find the business’s contact details!
Budget websites are often created using out of date templates or pre-made themes that are not suitable or customized to the specific needs of the business. This can result in a website that looks generic, uninspiring and does not accurately represent the brand. Additionally, budget websites will likely not have any, or very much, search engine optimisation carried out and lack functionality.
Non Irish Domain Names
Irish businesses should have an Irish website address. The .ie domain is reserved for Irish people and businesses and is an important marketing and trust mark. Someone seeing a .ie website address knows that they are dealing with an Irish company and it much less likely to be a scam website (though unfortunately it is not a guarantee).
Having a .com or .net website address not only undermines your website with people searching for your products or services, but it will also be harder to rank well for local searches on Google. A .ie website will typically cost close to €50 per year to renew (though upfront registration is often much cheaper), whereas a .com or .net domain will cost around $15 to $20, so its an easy way for a budget web developer to save on expenses.
Limited Customisation And Ability To Update.
When clients come to us asking us to fix up their budget websites, the first hurdle that we most commonly come across is that they don’t have access to their own website. It is, unfortunately, a very common practice in the world of cheap websites, for unscrupulous developers to keep hold of the login details to their client’s websites. This leaves businesses beholden to their original developer, unable to make any updates except through them, for which they not only frequently over charge, but have also proven themselves unsuitable to make in the first place.
This is particularly an issue when the website is based off an out dated design template and looks practically the same as every other website the developer has created. Often direct rivals in the same area will have the same website. A modern, well designed and customised website though, can instil trust and confidence in potential customers.
Probably the biggest and most common problem we see on budget websites is poor content. This often takes the form of some basic text originally written in another language and then Google Translated into English. Needless to say the text then makes very little sense to anyone reading it. Concepts such as ‘target keywords’ and ‘optimised text’ just don’t come into the equation.
Probably even worse than that, at least in the eyes of the Google algorithm, is text just copy and pasted from other websites. We’ve seen pages on an Irish business’s website before about how they were the best provider of their services in all of Maine – text obviously just copied directly from another website without even proof reading it. The obvious direct lifting of text aside, even slightly altered text wont trick Google into thinking you are providing anything new to searchers, and if you are not presenting new information, then Google wont recommend your cheap website. This is how you find your budget website down on page 5 (or worse) of search results.
The same is true for stock photos or images copied from other websites. If it’s not original content, Google is less likely to recommend it and so down the rankings you go. We also regularly see “reviews” on websites with photos of obvious models beside them. It hardly instils confidence – if the photo is a lie, is the review itself genuine? Original, optimised text and images are a must for any website to be successful.
You Are Promoting Unprofessionalism
A budget website, guilty of some or all of the above, can give the impression that the business is not a very professional or serious endeavour. Customers may perceive a poorly designed website as a reflection of the quality of the business’s products or services. After all, if a business is cutting corners on their own website, will they also be cutting corners on the services they provide? A professional, well-designed, original and optimised website, on the other hand, can instil trust and confidence in potential customers.
Limited SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
At its simplest SEO is just following a few basic rules about structure and text on a website. This will then effectively communicate to search engines (primarily Google) what the business’s website is about, what services they provide and where they provide them. Exactly what you would want Google to know about you when people are searching for your products or services in your area.
SEO is both a broad and deep subject and some companies spend thousands every month improving their SEO. The basic rules of it though are very easy to enact and will give a website a great foundation upon which a business can build its online presence. Budget website developers will very rarely have carried out the simplest of these steps and what’s more, many of the platforms used may even lack the tools and functionality to enact them.
This can all result in a website that is difficult to find online. This can negatively impact the business’s online visibility and ultimately, their bottom line.
Limited Support And Maintenance
Budget website builders typically offer limited support and maintenance options. While a self built and hosted website may have a ticketing system for people to access, this may be complicated and daunting for many to go through, especially when they can’t accurately describe what the issue is. Budget website developers may not be easy to contact, with “they never answer the phone” a regular complaint we hear, and may not treat your issue with the urgency it requires.
Ultimately, if something goes wrong with the website, access to technical support needed to fix the issue may be lacking. Additionally, website maintenance and updates are important to ensure the website remains secure and up-to-date. With a budget website, these necessary updates are unlikely to be applied, leaving the website, and business, open to attack.
So What Are Your Options?
If you are a new business just starting out and can’t afford to get a proper small business website developed, then there are a few options that you can look into to help you take those first few steps online. We have discussed some of these before in our article “4 Simple & Free Ways To Market Your Business Online“, which recommends Google’s own local business directory Google Business Profile and Facebook Business pages as good starting options. The great thing about these is that when you do end up getting your new website developed, you will have a head start with these platforms already helping to establish your business online.
If you are going to end up going down the self build, or budget developer route, make sure that you have control. Register your own .ie domain name separately, so that no matter what else happens, you will always retain ultimate control over your website.
In conclusion, while a budget website may seem like a cost-effective solution for a business, it can actually end up costing them significantly more in the long run. A poorly designed and non-customizable website can negatively impact the business’s online presence and reputation, while limited SEO capabilities can result in a lack of online visibility. Furthermore, the lack of support and maintenance can result in technical issues and security vulnerabilities.
What often happens then is that these negative experiences can lead business’s to feel disillusioned with the entire concept of having a website. They then simply give up on the entire process, leaving them detached from a vital resource to help their business be successful.
For these reasons, businesses should invest in a professional and well-designed small business website that accurately represents their brand and meets their specific needs.
LSB Marketing is a provider of local and small business web solutions, at an affordable price. We help local & small businesses to find new customers by delivering an effective web presence. If you’d like to get in touch to discuss your business website needs the visit our contact page.