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:
|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.