After working in the website design and online marketing field for over 10 years I have looked at and analyzed thousands of websites and hundreds of website design companies. What I have found out over the years is that most “cheap” website design firms actually “scam” their clients by offering many additional services that are already FREE and only take a few seconds to setup or do!
Being in the marketing industry I fully understand what perceived value is, and how important it is to website purchaser to think they are getting the most for their money. Now after working with several hundred startups and entrepreneurs here are some things I just find border line unethical (just my personal opinion), to offer people without telling them that these things are free in the first place. Many companies do offer this as part of their “packages”. I will also touch on how they setup their fees in order to “milk the cow” for as long as possible and how you are loosing money in the long run.
# 1 Search engine optimized site Most sites that are built today are already optimized. Unfortunately SEO is a highly misunderstood term and the buyers normally have no clue what they are getting with their optimized site. What is even worse is that many times these companies setup your optimization that actually works against you instead of with you because it isn´t done right. So before you fall into the optimized site trap, make sure that you understand what SEO is, that includes both on and off site optimization.
# 2 Search Engine submissions A study was done on this and how it benefits businesses. The only benefit to doing this is that smaller search engines will pick up your site faster than they normally would. If you have a static site that and there is no content updates on it, this is rendered useless. Below we will touch on this a little bit more in regards to analytics. If you submit your site every time you do an update you are just asking the “crawlers” to update what they have indexed on your site. If the crawlers already visit your website on a regular basis, then submitting your site serves no purpose what so ever and you are paying to have something done that the search engines do automatically anyway.
# 3 Google local registrations with “FREE coupons” for your local business The Google Local registration is free, it takes less than 2 min to setup from beginning to end. You should already have a Google account and have this setup if you are doing business locally. Many website designers do not tell you about the fact that this is something you can do and update in a matter of minutes. There is no limit on how often you can change your local coupons, in fact you can setup coupons that never expire. All you have to do is setup your Google account and you can do this yourself.
# 4 Custom website tracking or analytics This is normally something that is offered by companies that have built their own tracker, and in some cases you may even be paying for this service and your website designer or website design firm is getting a cut of the profits. If you have them install Google analytics on your site and make sure that it automatically inserts that code on any new page you add. By doing this you are not only are you getting one of the best analytics tools for free implemented into your site, you are also making sure that the Google crawler visits your site on a daily basis.
# 5 Designing your website for free and pay a “low” monthly fee This is a great concept if you do not have the startup money to pay for a real custom design. In fact I offer this option through my own marketing company especially for startups because they ask me specifically for it. Here is the truth of the matter though. This is great for your first year online but the average lifetime of a website before you should do some type of design changes is about 18 months. If you pay the cheap fee of $90 a month, which is very common, you are paying about $1.000 a year for your website to be up and running. That means that in two years you have paid almost $2.000 assuming that you are still just using the basics that come with these “cheap” sites, normally they do not include e-commerce and in all honesty most of them are extremely hard to use. Now if you pay a marketing or website design company $1.000 startup to build your website, and normally many of these companies will have a CMS that is easy to use and include more options than your basic “cheap” site. The charge for hosting is normally about $30 pr month, your first year will cost you about $1.300. The kicker is that your second year will only cost you about $300. Now granted that this is comparing apples to oranges, simply because in the second part of this you are probably getting what these “cheap” website design companies call their “Advanced” packages which will run you anywhere from a $300 - $1.000 startup and then usually over $100 pr month. So now you are looking at spending about $2.500 a year for your “cheap website”.
So are you really getting a great deal? I would like to mention at this point that there are many great website design companies out there that can help you. In the website design industry and in the online marketing industry you normally get what you pay for, what I mean by that is if you are paying for a “custom design” that fits with your branding and your image, expect to pay more than nothing. Chances are that if you are getting a “free” custom design, you are really buying a modified template that anyone could have. Your monthly fee is then where they get you, overcharging you for something you should not have to pay all that much for, and offering you “free” services that you should expect to pay even more for.
So here is how these “cheap” companies are really getting you. They undercharge you on your startup because the websites are templates, they then promise to do several things for “cheap” that normally you can expect to pay a lot for. So of course you think you are getting a great deal, you are getting a really cheap startup and then even cheaper marketing services. Now we don´t know how you run your business, but we assume you are looking to profit. So ask yourself, how do you think these companies are profiting? Because you know it is not off your startup costs and it is not by over delivering services to you. It is by setting up the illusion that you are getting a great “deal” on website design and marketing services. Unfortunately the only one getting a great deal out of this is the “cheap” website design company you just decided to pay over a $1.000 a year for doing things that are free!