Don't Let Your Vendor Hold You Hostage!


We’ve seen it time and time again across industries as diverse as mortgages, insurance, legal, and chiropractic. A company or agency with expertise in your industry offers to build you a website for “free”, or using canned templates, as part of a software suite or marketing services retainer. They wax poetic about how they design professional sites that are customizable and SEO-friendly. They then boast the long list of customers they have so you think, “Well, they must be good, right?” Slow down. Don’t get too excited. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Probably Not Great for Marketing

The truth is, they aren’t providing you much value. Marketing tactics are continually evolving, and SEO in particular is constantly changing as Google updates its algorithm on a regular basis. Therefore, it takes a company that focuses on your specific needs, your market, and that has the knowledge to steer you in the right direction and help you adapt your strategy as needed in the future. 

These software creators (where websites are not their core competency) and even companies that bill themselves as agencies (in other words, they should know better) sometimes build sites that are slow, not mobile-optimized or simply lack the professional design and functionality of a modern site. Basically, they are working from an outdated, limited template that isn’t personalized to your needs or appealing to the search engines. In the end, these sites turn off Google and your prospective customers.  

Original Content? Yeah, Not So Much.

In order to sweeten the deal, theses companies sometimes offer free blog content because you know, that’s good for SEO. While it’s true that blogs can really help you improve your organic search rankings, what these companies don’t tell you is that they are sending the same, syndicated content to companies like yours all around the country. Oh, and they probably “personalize” it, by dumping in some local sounding keywords based on where you’re located so you can “rank” for local search listings. If you didn’t know, Google is not a fan of duplicate content, and it’s sophisticated enough to recognize what percentage of your content is a duplicate. So not only will you not get the SEO rankings you’d like from this content, but you’ll probably get dinged for having it. You heard that correctly, the syndicated, unoriginal content that they feed to your site is actually doing you more harm than good! 

Page Limits

Many of these canned sites will have limits on how many pages your site can have, how much traffic they can receive, or how many images you can post. All of these can hamstring your marketing efforts, since they limit your ability to add landing pages for marketing programs, or expand your content as your services expand.

They may also restrict things like: contact forms, employee access to the admin, reports, and more.

But Wait, There’s More

If those issues weren’t bad enough, what’s even more concerning, however, is that these companies basically hold your site hostage. Want to make some aesthetic changes? Sorry, they won’t give you access to the code, so you’re stuck with the few changes their inferior content management system or your limited service agreement allows. Or you have to pay lots of money for them to make the changes for you. They call even the most basic edits “customization” to justify the hefty price tag.  

Want to access your Google Analytics data so you can measure campaign performance? They give you the runaround for months until you finally give up. 

Did you just fire that agency for poor performance? Holy cow, you’ve been kicked off your own social media accounts!

You want access to your Google My Business listings after your agency went under? Good luck convincing Google to hand over ownership to you. 

Want to point your URL to a new website we’ve designed for you? It’s not so easy when you discover that a third party company has your URL in their account and won’t give you access.

We’re not just speaking in hypotheticals here. These are situations we’ve actually come across when working with clients’ sites. It’s your site. It’s your data. You should have access to all of it. No exceptions!  When a company builds you a site or manages your marketing, make sure you have full admin access to:

  • Domain name registration
  • The website’s content management system
  • Google Analytics
  • Google My Business Listings
  • Paid search accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Email accounts (both ESPs and work emails)
  • Digital assets such as images, data, content, etc.

Free Usually Isn’t Inexpensive

The old saying is true, you get what you pay for. If you don’t want to be stuck with a site that’s more of a hindrance than a help to your marketing efforts, work with a reputable agency that’s on top of Google’s policies and best practices, as well as the latest design trends. Make sure that it’s in your contract that you own your site, even if you part ways with the website creator, and that you can make changes to it on your own. Don’t let another company control you and your marketing program


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