The site built with GoDaddy's online site builder.
I had a family member come to me for help with her search engine optimization (SEO) back in February of this year (2017). It may sound a bit odd, me being a web developer and all, that she wouldn't come to me for a site. She did. I gave her advice, but she didn't listen. I gave her a price so low that it was costing me money, but she couldn't see the value of professional web design.
I learned early on in my career that friends and family make the worst web design clients. It isn't intentional, there is simply a disconnect between the work involved and what it should cost. Because of our relationship, I priced the job to her for a fraction of what it would really cost me (in labor costs). Whatever, it's family.
Unfortunately, some people have to discover things on their own. I can't work for free. The site I had planned would have cost me (in labor) 3 times what I charged her. It would have worked. Instead, she decided to build it herself. I recommended a decent site builder, but after half a day with it she threw her hands up and gave up. (The editor was Wix.) Instead she rushed off to buy multiple domains and build her site through GoDaddy's new(ish) site builder.
The site built with GoDaddy
After 2 weeks of tireless work, she emerged with her first website. At first glance, it wasn't that bad. There was a nice large banner graphic which scrolled down into the page.
Then it happened...
The focus started becoming more and more scattered. The entire page was riddled with typos, spelling errors, and questionable sentence structure. To her, the site was perfect: she had just spent over 80 hours building the thing! I told her it looked nice, gave some soft, helpful pointers, and left without killing her good mood with the ugly, ugly truth.
The site was bad.
If this website were just another random site on the Internet, I guarantee you would hit the back button within 30 seconds at the most. Had she not been so close to it, she'd have felt the same way. No one is going to do business with you if they do not trust you. A website full of grammatical errors, low quality graphics, and poorly written copy is not how you garner trust.
People want answers. They want to be entertained. They want to feel valued.
So here we are full circle. After 3 months of zero results from her site, she gives me the GoDaddy account information so I can optimize her site. The first thing I noticed was there was no optimization at all.
The GoDaddy site builder has an automated SEO wizard, but this did next to nothing to help her out in search engines (if anything, it was hurting her ranking). It was up to her to fill in the blanks correctly, as it is with any site builder or template site. Having a professionalish looking site is one thing, but making a great website that attracts visitors and makes conversions is another thing entirely.
I did what I could for optimizing her site. Just like most other site builder software, the features were limited and there was no way to alter the source code.
I did on-page optimization and set up her Google Analytics and Search Console. It turns out, GoDaddy never even submitted her new site to Google. As far as Google and the other search engines were concerned, the site didn't even exist.
This site never will perform. It doesn't have the makings of a successful site. I've been developing websites for over 6 years now, and even I had trouble making something decent out of her site.
I changed the content around a little, improved the cohesiveness and overall focus, and I made the homepage more likely to make conversions (or at least, generate a little revenue from affiliate marketing). The site's sitting around #40 for her target terms. There's no point doing more until she does some more work on her actual business and forms some compelling offers (in her case, travel packages).
Even if I did push her site higher in search, it would be a short sighted move. Google likes to show people the results most likely to please their customers. If a site is search engine optimized, but completely forgets the user, the site will be knocked down so better quality results take priority.
Providing what people coming to your site are searching for in the first place is a pretty key rule for a successful, highly ranked website.
Speaking of which, here's the entirety of what's available in the GoDaddy site builder:
- 7 templates
- 7 header layouts
- 20 cover photos
- 30 colors
- 20 fonts
- "Sell Online" store (requires upgrade)
- PayPal Button
- 5 about
- 1 calendar
- 3 content
- 1 file displayer
- 4 photo galleries
- 2 menu/price list options
- 1 social links sections
- 3 subscribe squeezers
- 1 video sections
- 2 blog options
If this seems like a lot of choices, think again. Why choose from 30 colors when there are thousands available? Why limit yourself to 7 templates (or templates at all, for that matter) when there are so many possibilities for how your site can look!
She wouldn't tell me how much she spent, but I imagine it's at least $150 per year.
Professional design will cost you more than that, but at least it will work.
Is it really worth to missing out on the potential of the world wide web just to save a few hundred bucks?
How many weeks is it okay to have a below average site?
How many months will you ignore the need for proper optimization and having a site that gets attention?
I hope you'll consider using professionals. You can hire me if you like.
I can get you online for as little as $100. Most sites range between a few hundred to a couple of thousand.
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It really just depends on your needs and what you want out of your website. You can start small and build as you go.