Rita, the owner of “5 Star Pet & House Sitting Service” recently posted on the PETPRO Yahoo News Group:
“Hi, I have a free website (at) www.freewebs.com. Does anyone think that this is a deterrent to people that go to my site for pet sitting services and see that it is a free site? Does it turn people off?”
Some thoughtful responses include warnings about popups and other annoying ads that distract from your own message. Other posts mentioned the “professional” nature of having a free site as opposed to your own domain name. And I agree. In this day and age where webhosting is a commodity that costs literally pennies a day and domain names can be purchased for as little at $10 – $15 a YEAR, why screw around with free sites? Yes, they included easy point and click templates etc. But what you’re doing is basically building and contributing to traffic for someone elses website. Sites like freewebs.com are offering free sites as a tradeoff for putting ads on your page. While there’s nothing wrong or underhanded about this approach (all businesses are in the business to make money, right?) why not “build equity” in your OWN domain name instead of driving traffic to someone else’s domain name?
In regard to Rita’s “5 Star Pet & House Sitting Service”, I searched specifically for that name on Google AND on the freewebs site itself and I never did find the site. So another major downside is that these free sites don’t often come up in the search engines which is really a waste of having a website at all if it can’t help you get more business or attract new customers.
A great alternative? How about a free website with no ads and your very own domain name? Check out Microsoft Office Live. Microsoft (you may have heard of them — they’re that little computer company in Redmond, Washington) announced this free service late last year (2006). What’s the catch? Absolutely nothing. No ads at all and, like I said, you actually get a FREE DOMAIN NAME as part of he deal! Ok, there is one eensie weensie catch — you have to include an unobtrusive Microsoft Network search box on the site. But other than that, the sites are really robust. I even registered one for my own name and made it into a “resume” site containing my resume, video clips, all kinds of stuff.
So if you’re going the free route — check it out!
P.S. Rita, when you read this, please feel free to post your domain name in the comments section of this blog post so we can pay your site a visit!