As an agency that focuses on small businesses across the US and Canada – we’re approached by clients needing local SEO and each one comes to us with a….we’ll call them.. unique… website.  Very rarely does a client come to us with a great website that just needs some sprucing up.  A few come with WordPress already, but their usability and architecture is a hot mess.  Many come to us with either a) a website they built themselves with a weird host-driven u-build-it platform; or b) a rented website.

When you have a website built by a company that uses proprietary coding and hosting that cannot be moved if you decide to sever ties with that company, you’re basically renting it.  You may get to keep your content, but to move to a different webmaster and/or host, you’re going to have to start from scratch.  In many cases this is an expensive proposition.

We see these “rented websites” more prevalent in the dental, medical and real estate industries.  Many professional companies just want someone to “handle it,” and if you’re lucky, the company you hire to “handle it” actually delivers.  If there’s one thing we’ve found though, promises and delivery in our industry are two very different animals.  If you’ve chosen a platform like this, it’s imperative that you do your homework.  Check the reputation of the company, talk to other professionals who use them, search their brand online and add the word “reviews.”  First and foremost, make sure you’re aware that if you do decide to leave the marketing/hosting they offer – you’re going to be starting over.

So there are pros an cons to going down the “Rented Website” path, we’ll share a few here:

Pros Cons
Easy to set up, generally you just pay an invoice and the company you hire takes care of the design, coding, content, and go live You own the words, but not the structure of the site, so if you want to leave – you basically have a gigantic word document, and no website
Affordable on the front end. Most of the websites are templated and can go up quickly and inexpensively If the company you choose is not extremely SEO savvy, you’ll end up with something that is unlikely to be competitive in Google
One comprehensive invoice – one bill each month can streamline your AP process. Do you know what you’er paying for when you get 1 invoice that says “Website Hosting & Maintenance” per month?
One Point of Contact – you only have to remember one person to call with website issues. Your account manager probably doesn’t know much technically, and the answer to every question is “I’ll get with the team and get back to you”  This can become frustrating after awhile
If they’re serving a niche, they’re familiar with how the dental, medical, etc industry works and they have baked in necessary processes, such as HIPPA compliance Limited Expertise – You can hire 1 company that does 5 things of mediocre quality, or 3 companies that are the best at what they do (Development, Hosting & SEO/Marketing)

Ultimately the choice is yours. At Ignitor we recommend the a la carte approach for most clients. A solidly built WordPress website, structured well with SEO and Local SEO baked in and hosted by a company that understands that speed and uptime are primary concerns can be the foundation for a long-term successful marketing strategy. The time and money investment on the front end may be higher than renting web-space, but the long run benefits definitely out-weigh the short term convenience.

The Pros and Cons of Website Rental. Is it right for you?
Carrie Hill
Carrie has been working in SEO and Online Marketing since 2006 - she brings a passion for search and a desire to know more to every project she participates in. Carrie is a noted speaker and writer about a variety of topics, including Schema protocols, Google Analytics, Local Search and more. When she's not digging heavily into search & online marketing issues - you can find Carrie in her kitchen or possibly sitting on the porch with a cup of tea, a book, and her 4 dogs.

4 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Website Rental. Is it right for you?

  • May 18, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    I would never consider ‘renting’ a website, nor would I suggest someone else do so. Must work for some folks though 🙂

    • May 18, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Hi Andy!
      I certainly don’t “recommend” it. I honestly haven’t ever seen a 1 size fits all solution like that work consistently and long term – but just saying “don’t do that” doesn’t seem to get through – because most of the small businesses we deal with are looking at dollar signs.

      My tactic when approached with things like this is to go through pros and cons, talk about the future A LOT, and ultimately ask “are you happy with the size of your business or do you want to grow/gain customers.” Sometimes, in very rare cases, they’re not looking to grow – maybe just have a web presence that’s not dated. I ran into this with a doctor’s office recently. 1 doc, very busy, not taking new clients – basically just wanted a website because everyone else had one and his was dated. In his case, short term for not a lot of money, one of those site rental things might be an ok decision – but for the most part, If they need traffic from the internet and new business – the best tactic is to steer them away from rent-a-site.

      Plus – I have yet to meet anyone who was 100% happy long-term with those types of solutions. There are always issues. Not ranking, website downtime, duplicate content, their site looks like their competitors site, etc.

      Thanks for weighing in!

  • May 26, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    To Andy’s comment, I want to start with a metaphor. Does a carpenter want a drill or does he want a hole, typically no one wants a drill, a drill is a tool that just meant to serve a purpose (to make a whole). That same metaphor is true for a website, does a small business “need” a website or do they need the leads that a professional digital marketing plan can provide.

    Many small businesses don’t want a website, they don’t want to maintain it, keep it updated with content, protect it from malware, spam, and the hundreds of other things necessary to make a great site. All they want is leads that will help them grow their business to the next level. And if that solution is renting a website from a reputable marketing company then that is a huge benefit.

    Like with anything in business renting a site must make business sense and for some, it will and for some, it won’t. But isn’t renting a website that ranks for a keyword, very similar to AdWords? And Google Makes BILLIOOONS

    Those are just my thoughts.

    BTW, Awesome article. I love the Pros & Cons list

  • July 20, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Many businesses just want a name online.
    The key to a good google ranking, is still the content and no SEO wizards can miraculously push a website targeting a hot keyword up.

    I’ve hired people to do my website, and I’ve also made my own websites.
    The thing about hiring one to get things done, is it will be very costly. You are almost keeping the designer on your payroll to do the updates and sort out the bugs. Worse, cheaply paid designer may go MIA and you will have a hard time finding someone to continue keeping things together.
    In this manner, the advantage of ownership isn’t much over renting.

    Another problem with getting someone to design the website from scratch is it is often even more difficult to get what you want. The template in his opinion maybe vastly different from yours.
    Most leasing website companies have a few templates to choose from and it will be more assuring to visually match what you expect.

    The best way is to do your own website but it will require a lot of time and a certain level of programming skills which not many users have. You may even pay more than renting a website, as you will need to purchase the plugins, themes, hosting, domain, etc

    Like what Eric was saying, it really depends on what the business owner wants.
    Many just want a cyber footprint, like a name card. Then renting one will be ideal in those scenarios.


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