Perform a internet search with any search engine for “free website” and quite literally thousands of hits will be returned. Providing free websites and blogs is obviously very lucrative for the companies that supply them, but do they really offer anything for the end user, the person who wants to create their own website?
By definition free websites come with no initial charges and fees and they offer software that typically allows the user to put content on the Internet very quickly. However, that is where the advantages typically stop. Far too many free websites simply vanish from the Internet because, according to the free website provider, that site was violating their terms of service, had uploaded too many images, was too big or was simply getting too much traffic.
And here is the real rub. The system’s users might own the content of their websites, but as far as the free websites are concerned they essentially have no other rights at all. The software and the hardware that runs the end user’s website is completely owned by the provider. Website creators are dependent on the good graces of the providers to keep their website running and the system providers can pull the plug on any content whenever they like. It is possible to spend months or even years building a website and then, ‘poof’, it is just gone and there is absolutely no recourse to the system provider.
The Problems with Free Websites:
- Available web space will be limited so it is not possible to add a significant amount of content (particularly images).
- The system’s capabilities cannot be extended beyond what is offered in the basic package (this means that it is not possible to add features such as forums, article directories, movie streaming, interactive games, chat rooms etc).
- Website creators will often have ads and banners imposed on their sites (this is how the owners of the system make money).
- There are no guarantees as to how long a site will be on the web (it can be removed at any time).
- Help and support may be non-existence or of very poor quality.
- Website address will be defined by the system and is often difficult to remember.
- It is not possible to use easy to remember (and user defined) web address (eg www.mydomain.com).
- It is not possible to have email addresses associated with the website’s domain (eg no simple [email protected] style email addresses).
- Sites such as this are classed as subdomains and search engines give them low priority or even ignore them completely (sites will not be indexed by the search engines).
- Sites may often either not be free forever, or a site expands to a pint where it requires more disk space or special features that the webmaster needs to pay for.
- No traffic logging. It is not possible to find out who visits a site or where the traffic come from (this makes it hard to increase a site’s traffic or to target a site’s content to what web searchers are looking for).
- There will often be no control over the look and feel of a site, except to chose between a small number of existing web templates.
- The software running a site is often old and not frequently updated. This leaves sites open to being hacked and getting banned for distributing malware.
- A given site will be associated with a number of other websites sharing the same web name. The website’s on-line credibility will suffer as a consequence and if a site in the same cluster is defined as a ‘bad neighbour’ other sites associated with it by sharing similar web addresses will suffer as well.
Free Websites Do Not Make Money:
Yes, the subtitle given here is correct. Free websites only make money for those people who actually run them and even then many such companies fail. Which is why it’s typical to see free website companies around for a couple of years. But after this period the majority of them vanish completely.
To be successful on the Internet requires a professional attitude and outlook. The look and feel of a website has to be professional and part of that is having an URL that looks professional as well. Unfortunately, free websites do not project professionalism in any way. Typically a given site’s web address is cumbersome and hard to remember. Moreover, and people know it’s on free hosting and increasingly web-savvy surfers recognize that such a site may disappear at any time. Large and serious websites simply will not link to sites like this. And if a website gets no in-bound links it will not be indexed by search engines and even if indexed has not hope of ranking well.
The look and feel of free website are often dated and can well be swamped by the banners and popups that the free website hosters use to try and make money. Consider this: have a look at all the large company websites out there (or even just some of the well known websites).
Do they use free web hosting?
No they do not.
Do they have their own domain name that’s related to their business?
Of course they do.
Think about it. Which seems more trustworthy, a domain that reads: ‘www.MyWebsite.free-hosting.com/users/mysite/’ or one that says: ‘www.MyCompanySite.com’? The first one looks cheap and low-rent. The second one looks professional and is more likely to be associated with a real company that has a long-term future on the Internet.
There is a simple lesson here. There is no point even thinking about using a free web hosting service for any serious website. Buy a domain name (the name of this should be based on the product or service that the website will provide), pay for proper hosting and build a website from scratch. This way the webmaster owner remains in control of everything and the website becomes an expression of the site’s aims and aspirations. This is what makes websites stand out from the crowd. It gets the message across as to who the website is owned by and that the service they are providing is worthwhile and is worthy of being checked out.