Many web hosting companies around the world are offering free website builders or website template editors bundled with their web hosting plans. Some companies offer 100 templates while others offer thousands. For a new website owner, it may sound like a good idea to cut designing costs and take a bundled template system. But in the long term, the website builders may actually be doing harm to your online presence. This article deals with why the free website builders or website template editors could be harmful for your website and online presence.
The main aim of the website builder services is to make you dependent on their service so that you are lured into buying a paid plan. Once you have setup your website and put in your information into their system it can become pretty difficult to migrate out of it or customize it to suit your needs. This dependence is exactly why these businesses are able to get renewals of the account. If you don’t renew the bundle, you end up losing everything. If you decide to split the bundle and buy hosting from another place, they will not allow you to use their template system. An article on TheSiteWizard website rightly says:
“Building your website using a site builder only seems easy on the surface, since it provides the illusion you don’t need to dream up the visual appearance of your website. You can simply use their provided templates.”
Limited Templates and Editing Options
The template editor, image, designs and layout are all limited to whatever the service offers. This means that however incorrect or irrelevant the elements in the template may be, you have no other choice, but to use them. Even addons for backups, colour schemes, customized coding, inserting external code and modifying the source will be restricted. Some website builders also offer free code templates like for ad banners, chat scripts and even contact forms. However, these code snippets may not allow the customization that you want. For example, if you want to add a Captch Image verification, the form may not allow you to do so. Similarly if you want to log the IP address of the form sender for security purposes it may not be very suitable.
Impact on SEO
Many website builders have inherently haphazard coding with deprecated code. This means that the software contains obsolete code which is no longer used as a modern standard. The obsolete parts have been replaced by more efficient and optimum code to execute the same functions or perform the same actions, but your editor framework does not contain these improvements. Some services also prevent external apps and software from accessing the website code. This means that you are dependent on the internal addons and plugins which the vendor provides. These maybe buggy, obsolete or even vulnerable, but if you want that functionality in your website you have to use them.
Advertising Banners and Popups
Some website builders come free, but with some conditions. This means that if you use the site builder to make your design, you are consenting to allow popup ads or banner ads on your website. Every 3rd or 4th website visitor will be greeted with a popup advertisement inserted by the site builder and only if he closes the popup will he be able to access your website. Some website editor services go a step further and first redirect random visitors to an affiliates websites and then allow the visitor an option to go back to your site. This can be very damaging for your website, especially due to the fact that all your hard earned traffic is being diverted for the benefit of someone else. A friend of ours was suspicious that randomly on his website a banner ad would appear and then disappear after a while. Since he was not very tech savvy, he requested us to investigate. We noticed a suspicious script running on his home page, which had been placed there by the free website builder software that his web host had given him. Even upon removal, it returned. The problem stopped when he switched to a different web host.