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February 4, 2008

Site Builder Issues – Why Shoeless Joe Was Wrong

Unfortunately, many people are living a perfect example of if you build it, they won’t come.

If you build your site with a standard site builder that doesn’t allow for:

  • HTML – to create unique Meta tags on each page, use tags, ALT tags, etc.
  • FTP access
  • Root directory access to add static HTML files and XML files
  • Easy addition of new pages, to grow your site content.

Then you are setting yourself up for failure. If you build a website that can’t be optimized for the search engines, you will be unable to rank highly and tap into the large amounts of traffic that run through the search engines daily. You are missing out on people that are searching for products and services just like yours.

Whether you felt it was cheaper to build a site with a site builder, or you just didn’t know it was a problem – you need to take action and get your site onto a server that has no restrictions that will prevent your site from being properly optimized.

Many of the site builders out there even claim to be “search engine friendly” and then when we go to optimize a site for a client we can’t even do the most basic things like create unique Meta tags on each page.

Many site builder companies lock clients in for a year or more, leaving the client trapped with a site that can’t be optimized. Not all site builders are the enemy. However, you want to be very through and ask very specific questions when evaluating a site builder company. You don’t want to be locked into a contract that will ultimately hurt your website and your business.

Even if you think you are saving money by not hiring an expensive web designer, you are ultimately losing business and money, if you can’t be found in the search engines and your competitors can.

Already stuck with a site builder?

Contact a reputable SEO firm, preferably one that does design as well and have them look into whether your site can be optimized with your site builder. If it can’t, even if you lose some money – leave the site builder and get a quote on having your site moved to a new server (if you own the design of the site), or if the design of the site is a template belonging to the site builder, you’ll need to get a quote on a new design.

It may seem like a lot of trouble, and it may mean finding some extra money in your budget. However, without traffic from the search engines coming to your site, how can you expect to grow your site? Sure, you can do a PPC campaign and various other marketing campaigns – but you’ll always be missing out on the volume of traffic that runs through the search engines.

How will I make changes to my site if I move from a site builder?

That’s a common question. People don’t want to be chained to an expensive webmaster that will charge them for every change they want made. With the site builder, you could make the changes yourself.

There are a couple possible scenarios here. Maybe it’s worth paying a webmaster and freeing up your time to focus on other areas of your business. Another option is that the webmaster show you how to make simple text changes. The final option is to inquire about the control panel that comes with your website hosting package. They often have control panels that have a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor – meaning you still don’t need to know HTML and you can still alter your site – and have it be search engine friendly and optimized.

If you are unsure if your site builder is holding you back or if you know your site builder is and you want to break free, EcomBuffet is offering free consultations and a discount on web design right now.

In an effort to educate people about site builders and how they can harm you, this limited time offer is being made to my article readers.

If you don’t have a site yet and are looking at creating one, beware of going with a site builder, especially if you have to lock into a long contract. The questions you should ask are:

  1. Can an XML file be added to the root directory?
  2. Can unique Meta tags be added to each page?
  3. Can you add an unlimited number of pages to your site?
  4. Is FTP access available?
  5. Does the builder generate any “special code” that could cause problems for the engines?
  6. Can CSS and java script be placed in external files?

If the answer to those questions are no, I would strongly advise that you look at other options and not get yourself locked into something that is going to hurt you in the long run.

My site builder comes with a shopping cart. What do I do if I don’t go with the site builder?

Another valid concern. There are many great plugin shopping carts that are easy to configure and use. There are ones that run off your own server and you will need a secure server and certificate, and then there are ones that run off a third party server.

Many shopping carts these days even have extra marketing features, and allow for the user to load product images, pricing, shipping, descriptions etc in a very user friendly interface that doesn’t require any programming or complex code.

How much traffic am I really missing out on, by not being listed high in the search engines?

  • More than 8 out of 10 Internet users look on search engines to find information and the products or services they want to buy.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) costs are rising (over 37% higher from last year to this year Q1).
  • Up to 85% of searchers ignore paid listings
  • 63% of the top natural (organic) listings get click throughs.
  • Natural (organic) search results convert 30% higher than PPC.

Before you lose any more time and more importantly money, check out your site builder situation today and see if there is a solution that will work for you.

Author:  Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing and co-owner of http://www.EcomBuffet.com Since 1998, her expertise in online marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue and achieve their business goals. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on Search Engine Optimization and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer can be reached at Jennifer@ecombuffet.com

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