When it’s time to build or redesign a website, price is top-of-mind for most hotels. Your resources are limited, and you want to get your new website up and running as quickly as possible without completely blowing your marketing budget.
As you begin to weigh up your options, it can be tempting to pick the company with the lowest price tag, or better yet, one of the many free website templates or ‘DIY’ website solutions available online. But while a free or ultra affordable website may seem like a great idea right now, taking the cheapest option may cost you, and your booking rates, in the long run. Here’s 4 reasons why:
Search Ranking Implications
There are a number of reasons why website templates and SEO don’t go hand in hand. Firstly, a lot of these sites undermine a fundamental pillar of good search engine optimisation by using global title tags instead of unique title tags and meta descriptions for each page of your website. If you’re unable to change the title tags to include your hotel’s keywords, you limit the number of relevant keywords on your site. This makes it more difficult for the search engines to crawl and identify your pages, which means bad news for your search ranking.
Then there’s the fact that when a website has been made using a pre-made template, you don’t know for sure if it has been properly coded. If it hasn’t, the search engines will struggle to read your website which will also impact your search rankings.
The last point to consider is that if you opt for one of these DIY website projects, you’ll lose any SEO ground you’ve gained on your previous website and be back to square one in your ongoing efforts to rank highly in the SERPs.
Your Website Won’t Be Unique To Your Business
When you use a template, you get a generic design that could be suitable for any number of businesses. Sure, there might be a wide range of industry specific colours and layouts to choose from, but what you don’t get, is a website put together with your business’s USP in mind. Is your hotel’s target demographic families? If so, a good website design might include several prominent high quality photos showing families with young children enjoying themselves on the beach. Likewise, the text on your website should draw attention to all the ways your property and location is great for families – something you might not get with the often generic text supplied with templates.
Simply put: your website should differentiate your business from your competitors and help you stand out from the crowd. Professional website design is highly flexible and can be customised to suit the unique needs and aims of your property. If you opt for a template, you know there are other sites out there, perhaps even lots of sites, with a similar if not identical design.
Another problem with these sites is that they are often not supported by Google Analytics, one of the most important tools for understanding the traffic that lands on your website. Even if you secure a good ranking in the SERPs, without Analytics, you won’t be able to understand how this high position relates to website visitors, or what your guests do once they land on your website. Without this data, it’s hard to identify and plan the changes you need to incorporate to make your website even more successful.
Low Quality Design
The last risk is perhaps the most obvious. When you get a website built ultra cheaply, you run the risk of it looking…well, cheap. As a rule, professional, attractive websites will cost more. You may not think your guests are discerning enough to notice the difference, but today’s online travellers shop around and compare multiple properties before booking. If your website doesn’t look professional and perform optimally, they’ll notice, and they’ll be less likely to trust you, and less likely to part with their money. With this in mind, is it really worth sacrificing quality for price? How much would you trust Amazon if their website looked like it was put together cheaply in less than an hour?
What do you think about free website templates? Have you ever been tempted by a cheap website solution? Let us know in the comments below!
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