Don’t Build Your Own Website Until You Read This
You Can…. But That Doesn’t Mean That You Should
There are many reasons why attempting to build your own website is a false economy. Of course it does depend on what you want your website to do for you.
Or maybe you are still of the belief that a website is just an online brochure and that is all it’s ever going to be?
A good website can be so much more than that.
Your website is a selling tool, a promotional investment, and if you invest in it, it can perform beyond your imagination, delivering new customers to your door on autopilot.
Or you can just bash something up of a low cost do it yourself website builder and take your chances.
It’s all well and good going down that route, but I guarantee it will cost you more in time and effort and trying to learn everything you need to know than it would cost you to employ an expert in the first place!
1. You Won’t Save Any Money – Quite The Opposite
It’s easy to look at the underlying difference in cost between have a go website builders such as Wix or GoDaddy & a professional website designer, but you are not being given the true picture…
If you asked a web designer to build you a site the same as one you could build yourself on one of these low cost platforms, the price wouldn’t be that big. Why? Because there isn’t much to do to create a website that is never going to work for you…. literally anyone can do it in a few clicks.
The skill, and the bit you are actually paying for is all the backend trickery that will make your website work for you in the longer term….. and that is all the stuff that these cheap as chips click and play web builders don’t have the ability to offer you.
We receive inquiries almost daily from people who have built their own sites and who can’t work out why their wonderful creation doesn’t appear in Google, doesn’t render on mobile devices and doesn’t convert any of the measly visitors it is lucky enough to receive into phone calls, emails and sales.
These people, (and it’s really not their fault) all fell for the “it’s easy, and cheap” line and usually end up having to then pay a professional to rebuild their site so it will function.
2. Build Strategy, Structure & Performance
Online is competitive. If you think having a few competing businesses in your town makes life tougher, the internet is full of them.
The good news however is that many of them make unwise decisions, try to save a few pounds on their website and never become your online competitors!
If you are going to really succeed online, you need to be better than your competitors, as good as you can be in every regard. Web design isn’t a place you can get away with cutting corners…. each theoritical saving will come back and bite you on the behind.
Website structure is critical to your success. Do you have a hierachy in place for your intended web pages, blog posts, and content? How and where are you going to link your pages together? How are you going to demonstrate this structure to Google?
If you get your structure wrong, Google won’t like your site, so will either rank in down in the depths where it’ll never get found, or….. won’t even rank it at all… and that can spell death for your business.
There are over 300 different components of your pages that will make or break your website. A large proportion of these are “All or Nothing” inclusion filters. If you trip one of these filters, then you get removed from Google….. no ifs or buts.
It’ll also be more than likely that you won’t even know that you have done anything wrong….. which makes it really difficult to fix!
I don’t really understand the argument that just because you can build your own website, you should. After all, you could grow your own food….. but I bet you don’t do that. You could service your own car…. but I bet you don’t do that either.
You could hand deliver your own parcels…… but you don’t…… and these are all relatively easy to achieve by comparison with creating a fully functioning, high performance website.
My point is, that, by the time you have learned everything that you are going to require if your website is going to ever be anything other than an undervalued online business card, you may as well pay someone who already knows how to build good sites, and instead, dedicate your time to developing your core business.
To be able to build great websites that perform in search, and that convert web traffic into sales, we spend several thousand pounds each year on software and analysis tracking tools so that we can deliver the best for our clients.
No individual is going to incur that expense, especially if they are trying to save a few pounds by embarking on a self build website project.
This will leave you trying to make a website work without the tools to do so properly….. which is why, no matter how hard you try, your cheap as chips website will be out ranked by your competitors websites that have been built to win.
3. One Page Websites Underperform
Many cheap and chips self build platforms espouse the one page format, mainly because its cheap and easy for the efficient allocation of server space and permits simple functionality.
The MAJOR downside is that Google hates them.
There are several reasons for this;
- All your content is on one page, so you don’t have a content focused page discussing anything in depth
- Because no one ever clicks through to another page, your Google User Engagement metrics will be shocking
- Your one page site will have a HUGE Bounce Rate
- Mostly template driven and consequently have limited space for you to add your content, limiting your ability to have an impact
If you want to build a proper website, then build a proper website. One page sites are just glorified holding pages. If that is all you want, all you need then fine, go with it.
For a real website to work correctly, you need to have a separate page for each topic, subject, service, or product that you will be talking about.
This gives each page relevance and focus. Two elements that are vital to your future success.
These pages are then connected together by your navigation which also creates your page hierachy. Your home page is obviously your top tier page and as such carries the most trust and authority. After that, the first 100 pages linked to from your home page are your tier 2 pages.
Pages linked to from your tier 2 pages will be tier 3 pages etc.
Googlebot will only follow the first 100 links on a page, so having more is pointless if your are looking to tickle Google funny bone.
In short, one page sites are the opposite of everything that Google wants to see and will make your task of ranking well much, much harder.
4. Flexibility & Functionality
Cheap as chips site builders give you what they are capable of, but not much more. You are very limited with functionality and useability.
If you want your site to look a specific way, or to do certain things for you, very often you won’t be able to add those features.
Low cost site builders aren’t designed to be customised, so even if you just want to add an unusual logo shape, in most instances, you will be stuck with what you are given.
Websites have a habit of evolving over time. Of growing as your business grows, with new products, services, and areas of business that even though you haven’t thought about them yet, may very well end up becoming profitable revenue streams for you.
Adding these yourself at a later date isn’t easy. In many instances you will end up with a site that looks disjointed and confusing because of the design constrains that will limit your ability to scale your website as your business changes direction.
Any half decent web designer will be able to grow your site beautifully as your grow your business.
5. Effective Use of Time
Building websites is very easy. Building very good, highly profitable websites is also very easy…… but then we’ve been creating websites that work online for the best part of 20 years……..
The difficult bit was learning everything that we have over those 20 years.
There aren’t any shortcuts, you either know how to get a websites load speed into the 20th percentile or you don’t!
For many of our clients, some of whom started on the cheap as chips path, they say the biggest advantage that they have by using us is that they have their own Internet Specialists on their team, developing their website for them.
This gives them time to focus on their core skillsets.
6. Professional Presentation
If you do go down the cheap as chips self build route, then I bet your end result will look passable, maybe even quite attractive.
But…… is that going to be enough to achieve your goals?
First impressions count for everything.
Will your website really be good enough to make the right first impression?
7. Vital Google Friendly Metrics
Winning online is all about building a site that sends out the right metrics to Google et al.
Google for example measures over 300 different metrics on each site.
Some of these are minor, while others are major…. very major.
Did you know, that if you get the keyword density wrong on your page, then Google will exclude you? I don’t mean obvious spam either, I mean just one or two repetitions of an important keyword too many, or in the wrong places and your rankings will plummet!
Bounce rate is another biggie….. if people find you, then hit the back button shortly after arriving without visiting any other pages, you will be marked down as a failure result for that search term…. even if it was your Brand Name!
Imaging if people use Google as a phone directory and you have your phone nuber plastered all over your home page…. your visitors then search in Google for your business name, XYZ Company, and visit your home page. They then pick up the phone and call you, at best, closing your website, or worse, going back to Google to find the next supplier they need to call…..
If your visitors do that then you will soon disappear out of Google because of how they measure success.
Don’t bother moaning about it…. that’s how it is, you just need to make allowances for it and make sure that your site doesn’t send Google negative ranking signals.
Mobile friendliness… is increasingly important. More people surf online on mobiles than on PC’s these days, and Google likes to move with the times.
If your website doesn’t work perfectly on all touch screen sizes…. say goodbye to Google traffic.
Page load speed….. Slow loading sites can be caused by many things. It’s not just massive images, clogging up the phonelines and airwaves….. although they are often the culprit!
In short…. which of these metrics are you going to get right and which will you get wrong? How will you know if they are right or not?
See… it’s not as easy as it looks is it?
8. Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Dark art or mathematics, your call. Personally, it’s just maths.
There are over 300 metrics, each with maximums and minimums that Google (and the other search engines) expect to see.
Too little of something in the wrong place and you won’t rank high enough, too much of something and you won’t rank at all.
The skill is to know what to put where and in what ratios.
Web designers and SEO consultants have a massive advantage because they have much more data to play with and analyse than you do.
We run test sites in addition to hundreds of clients and so have access to terrabytes of SEO data that we can use to refine our SEO process so that our clients outrank their competitors.
If you follow Google SEO guidelines, write some great content and then sit back and wait to get rewarded… well…. you’ll be waiting a long time.
Google don’t want people to manipulate their results. But good SEO’s don’t do that. Instead, what we do is to create and optimize great content so that Google can read it, understand it and rank it appropriately.
9. Social Media Integration – How Will You Structure Your Sales Funnel
Social media is important, no denying it. Used correctly it can be a great route to market for your business. Not every business will make it work however. It’s difficult to find fans for some niches how ever hard you might try.
That’s why it’s important to understand the best social media platforms to use for your business.
Which will work best for you? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube?
Once you have chose the ideal platform or platforms for your business niche, where you are most likely to hit your target market, how are you going to structure your social channels?
Most people get this wrong.
The amount of times we see websites driving people into social media, is too high to count.
This is the wrong way round.
You want to find people on social media who are interested in what you are selling and drive them into your website so it can convert them into customers.
Don’t get me started on social media followers and likes….. in themselves they are of little use. Far more important are shares and Reviews. These are the two social media metrics that really matter.
10. Backup & Support
When you have a problem with your cheap as chips website, good luck getting any support to help you fix it.
Website have all manner of security and compatability issues as a matter of course. It’s something that is almost unavoidable due to the large variety of different browsers, devices, platforms and of course you have all of the bad men on the dark net, trying to bring down capitalism one virus at a time.
If your business is dependent on your website for sales then you need to treat it well. Buy it healthcare, wrap it in cotton wool, make it wear a crash hat and seatbelt.
How are you going to backup your cheap as chips site? Will you remember to do it? How sure can you be that you have all the information you need to rebuild it when it crashes?
Every site we build gets backed up one a month (some of our larger clients have daily backups) free of charge.
This means that we always have a nearly current version should the worst happen… it really takes the pressure off I can tell you.
With a proper website you get this support as standard so that you know that you will only ever be an hour or two away from being back live again.
11. Mobile & Platform Friendly
Not all self build platforms provide mobile friendly versions (responsive) as standard.
In many instances, functionality like this is an optional extra, but they don’t like to explain that to you until you are pot commited and have already invested time and effort into your site. Then they increase your costs selling you things that should be standard.
If you can’t provide a mobile friendly version of your site then you are wasting your own time and money.. even if it’s not a lot!
12. It Takes Time To Create Value
“A friend built their website in an evening”……. yes, of course they did…. and I bet it’s wonderful.
It’s just not possible to create something that will tick every necessary box for compatability and compliance in just a few hours.
A Chinese scooter costs a few hundred dollars, and it looks like a motorbike, but is it an MV Augusta? No. Does it look, sound or go like an MV Augusta? No…… just No!
13. Portal Branding, Logos & Links
Nothing says I really can’t be bothers quite as much as having Vistaprint branded business cards….. the same applies to your website.
Yell are not website makers, they are not as busy as they once were managing the pamphlet that was once the Yellow Pages, so they have turned their attention to creating piss poor websites for unsuspecting business owners…… who really want to have YELL emblazoned across the footer of their not fit for purpose website.
Many popular cheap as chips platforms charge you to remove this branding…. but you must if you want any chance of not looking as cheap as chips.
14. Mutual Benefit
Cheap as chips platforms are in it for themselves. They deal in numbers, and couldn’t give a tuppenny whatsit whether you succeed of fail…. another unsuspecting you will be along shortly.
A real web designer is different. Most rely in part on the recommendations from their satisfied clients for new business.
It is in our interest for our websites to earn my customers money.
If they win then we win…..
15. Disability Discrimination Act Compliance
This is little known in the general domain, but fialing to comply with the disability discrimination act has been an offence since 2004.
What does this mean to you?
Well, it means that you need to jump through a few hoops in order to satiasfy the needs of all your potential web visitors.
For the most part , W3C Compliance takes care of your obligations, but there are a handful of other things you could and should do in order to make it as easy as possible for all users.
As a by product, these will also make it easier for Google to understand what your site is all about too, so it’s a win win.
Image names and alt text
If you name your images with suitable names that describel what they are then it makes it easy to categorise them and to relate them to the content around them.
Additionally, alt text is the text that flashes up when you hover over an image and is the bit that page readers speak for visually impaired visitors.
By helping others, you will actually be helping yourself too and Google will love you just a little bit more.
16. Data protection Act Compliance (GDPR)
How will your cheap as chips deal with GDPR legislation?
….. yeah, I thought so…….
General Data Protection Regulation from May 2018 onwards.
You will have additional legal obligations to protect all data collected and held within your business.
This includes everything and will affect your website because every form completion, purchase or enquiry results in you collecting data.
There are several important steps you can take to comply with this legislation.
People will have a legal right to be forgotten.
This means that no longer can you scrape everyones email addresses and bombard them with your sales blurb for ever and a day.
They will have an official body, supported by robust EU laws that will allow them to rain down upon you with great vengence and furious anger should you misuse their information.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
17. Keeping Up With Fast Moving Online World
Stuff changes…… no one likes change, but if you are going to succeed in the long term online, you need to get used to it!
Keeping up with theis fast moving technology isn’t easy on your own. With the best will in the world, your cheap as chips web builder platform isn’t going to help you at all.
The advantage that a professional web designer offers you is that they are at the coal face. They know what is happening, what you need to do to stay compliant and to keep those web visitors coming to your site.
In 2018 Google will implement it’s “Mobile First” Algorithm Protocol, meaning that instead of ranking websites on all devices, based on their PC version or their site, all websites will be ranked according to their mobile version…..
Not got a compliant mobile version on your cheap as chips builder??? They you will be in big trouble the day Google roll out their latest Algo.
GDPR is another potentially huge issue for website owners and Google is famous for using quality metrics as ranking tools.
There are so many ways you can fall foul of seemingly small, insignificant issues that in isolation may not seem important to you.
Any one will render your website void, useless.
No one is ever going to critise you for trying to get value for money…. in fact, you should do so with every transaction you make…. however, a website isn’t always what it looks to be.
Ironically, an ugly website that is well optimized will out perform a beautiful site that has none of the back end tweaks that will let it fly.
It’s the difference between having an online presence and having an online presence that works for you 24/7, as a relentless sales creation tool.
Think of your website as a salesman, just without the pension, sickness, company car or expense account! A robot that if serviced and maintained will work tirelessly for you.
If you are still on the fence and not sure which way to go, please pick up the phone and let’s discuss what you want your website to do for you…. if all you need is an online brochure that no one can find without your business card then we’ll happily point you off to a cheap as chips solution, but if you want a full power, V8 supercharged selling tool then let us show you what we can do for your business.