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So you want a website that you can easily customize and keep updated yourself? A lot of people choose free website builders like Weebly, Google Sites, Yola, Wix, or others to create a website. But like a lot of things that are free, the value is lim
Why should you invest your time, and perhaps more significantly for a small, emerging business, your money, in a professional website?
Many clients meet with me after first building a website with Weebly. It offers many great templates and even allows you to import your own, has an easy drag-and-drop user interface, and it will even host your site for free, including if you install it on your own domain. In short, Weebly gets sites off the ground quickly and easily.
But after a while, it isn’t enough. And here is why.
The Downside of Weebly Sites
Weebly is cheap and user-friendly, but there are some significant drawbacks. In my view, here they are from the minor to the most critical:
- Many of the features they advertise are only free to Pro Account members. This covers things like being able to insert a video player and removing the unprofessional looking Weebly ad at the bottom that says “Create a free website with Weebly”. A Weebly Pro account will set you back $4 a month, which is more than website hosting costs.
- If you want to display ads with their AdSense modul, Weebly will take a hefty 50% of your revenue. You can add the code in yourself if you’re familiar with HTML and have accesss to the code by becoming a Pro paid member.The module-style way of building really limits customization. Let’s say you add a photo, and then later you want to add a caption. You’ll need to reset the whole thing and select the photo & text module, instead of the plain photo module.
- To truly create a unique and professional look and feel, you’ll need to make changes in HTML and CSS.
- No community features. Unless you consider a contact form “community”.
- Poor ability to optimize for SEO. Clients have complained to me about ranking low for their keywords even in non-competitive fields, and even when using Weebly’s SEO tool.
So is a website built with Weebly truly free?
If you have lots more time than money, sure, build your website with Weebly. As far as free websites go, they are one of the best site builders out there.
But if you plan on growing into a fully-customized, robust website, you might want to consider building your site in via wordpress.com, which is also free, and will easily import into self-hosted wordpress (wordpress.org) when you’r'e ready to grow. WordPress.com doesn’t allow for the plugins that make WordPress so wonderful. But hey, no free lunch, right?
If you plan on advertising on your blog, WordPress.com makes much more financial sense. Via WordAds, WordPress allows you to put ads on your blog via several partners. In order to keep this service free, they run some ads on your space, but you can opt out of this by paying an annual $30 fee.
But if you have even a small budget, you can create some beautiful basic websites with plug-and-play themes on WordPress.org. For a longer term investment in the future of your web presence, WordPress is the easier, safer bet.
I recently wrote about some resources for finding free, no-attribution images to add to webpages and blog posts. But m
aybe you’re wondering why it’s so important to include images to begin with. There are 3 major reasons I try to include images in as many pages and posts as possible.
- It’s much more visually engaging to look at text that is broken up by images. Readers are more likely to continue through blog text that is broken up by images and more likely to read them even in the first place. Additionally, most readers scan, rather than read blogs, and images keep things interesting when scanning and sometimes can convey information more quickly with a glance than text could.
- Posts with images are much more likely to stand out and be read when they appear in someone’s Facebook news feed. According to Facebook marketing guru Mari Smith, images increase a post’s EdgeRank score, which dictates how long it stays in a user’s news feed. So cut through all the Facebook clutter and use images to stand out on the Facebook news feed.
- Images make great opportunities for inserting SEO keywords. By inserting alt tags that are descriptive and also keyword inclusive, they give your page an additional on-site SEO opportunity. See this post by Debi’Z SEO for more information about why and how to insert alt tags on your images.
hackers can take down your wordpress website if you don’t protect it” width=”100″ height=”75″ />After hackers shut down the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and the website of El Al Airlines today, anyone with a website should think about what they can do to protect their websites, if they haven’t already. While this is hardly the first time hackers have taken down major websites, sometimes we need scary reminders that the worst can happen.
As I build most of my websites using the WordPress CMS, I’m most concerned about keeping those sites secure. WordPress is awesome and a growing platform, and much of the content is relevant to any website.
5 Tips to Protect Your WordPress Website From Being Hacked
1) Edit admin. Make your admin username something besides the default “admin”.
2) Use a strong password. The name of your first child is easy to remember, but it’s also easy to figure out, unless you think Rbj357qr is a cute boy’s name.
- Pick a phrase or song lyric and use the first letter of each word, or the second letter.
- Use your phone keypad to convert a word to its numerical equivalent to use as part of your password.
- Separate two words with symbols and numbers
3) Password protect the admin area. Most hosting control panels allow you to password protect a folder on your website with an HTTP popup to enter a username and password. This can be a great way to prevent even the most basic of attacks to your admin area. This double layer of password protection may seem a tad inconvenient but the extra protection is worth it.
4) Keep WordPress updated. Upgrades usually fix loopholes and bugs that can be exploited by hackers. This is especially important to keep in mind if you don’t update your site frequently (and therefore don’t see reminders and updates in your Dashboard). Once you see there is a new version available, you can update it quickly with literally the click of a button with an automated install. It’s a good idea to do a backup before executing this, or any other major change to core files. Set up a calendar with regular times to check in and see if WordPress or any of your plugins need to be updated. Check for any compatibility issues, and then update! At the hosting level, also be sure to keep your PHP updated.
5) Restrict IP Access. If you are the only administrator of your site and you always update from the same IP address, you can change the htaccess file to only allow updates from your IP.
Bonus: Check out the WP Security Scan plugin. This plugin scans your system and makes recommendations on how to improve many aspects of your site’s security.
For extra security:
SSL Encryption can secure and encrypt your data. To create the highest level of security, you want a private SSL for each one of your websites.