There are lots of things that can hurt your online efforts, but we’ll note some of those with the worst possible effects:
- Flash sites: If someone tries to sell you a website based in Flash, run away! Flash may be okay for online games and apps, but it is death for a website that needs organic search results because Flash content can’t be indexed by the search engines.
- SEO guarantees: If someone guarantees your website top placement on Google with their SEO services they are either going to cost you a lot of money or they’re lying to you. The problem with a page position guarantee is that your search engine result positions (SERPs) are based on competition for particular keywords. If someone puts more effort into optimizing for a keyword, they will eventually beat you. It’s an arms race. The other factor to consider is just what keywords are they going to use. It’s easy to rank #1 for a keyword that gets no search, but the problem is that it doesn’t get any search.
- Free websites: Free websites actually come at a high cost—freedom. Your business needs the freedom to present online content when and how it will have the biggest positive impact. Free websites are limited in scope, locking you into choices that are not optimal for your needs. One size doesn’t fit all in the online world. Even worse, free websites can steal your search equity. When you have your own domain, all the visitor traffic and actions on your site become part of the search engine ranking algorithm. That can be viewed as a sort of search engine equity. The more traffic, the more onsite clicks, the more time spent on the site, the better your search page results will be. But free websites almost always host your site as a sub-domain, and sub-domains only build equity for the parent domain. In fact, all your online efforts go to helping the free website service, not your business. Ouch!
- Cheap websites: Everyone has seen the amazing claims for web.com and other low-cost website providers. For a low monthly subscription you get a business website, you can choose from a thousand designs, you have access to an “expert” Internet Marketer and design team, you can run a store, add a blog, on and on… The truth is that these sites have limited value for businesses. Generic designs with limited content management and poor internal code structure will limit your prospects to gain visibility online. If you research these inexpensive solutions you’ll discover two things: first, they get lots of complaints from dissatisfied customers and, second, they try to upsell their customers with products, services and packages that don’t deliver and that turn a $12/month website bargain into an inflated $100/month web albatross.
- Amateur developers: Lots of people may be able to cobble together an HTML page or learn enough of a platform such as WordPress to get you online, and they may be willing to do this for free or for a minimal cost. But consider that by doing so you are entrusting much of your business’ branding to someone who likely knows very little about promoting businesses online. There is a reason that you pay a professional to get results, whether it’s a lawyer, a doctor, an auto mechanic or a web developer; they have the knowledge of what to do and how to do it and they have both the tools and the skills to do it right.