No Such Thing as Free Lunch

Get Your Free Website; Step Right Up and Get Your Free Website. REALLY?

This particular post is going to come off more than a little bit like “sour grapes” – but it is what it is. I can imagine a few web developers seeing this pop up on Google and the “blogpshere” at some point and COPYING this link and sending it to their client’s and saying something like. see here…THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE WEBSITE.

Let me tell you that we’re fortunate in that we are blessed to gain a couple of new clients every week – sometimes more. So I guess I’m bitching just to be bitching – or to vent. Let me explain.

We own websites ourselves. We build websites for new clients all of the time – but again, we own websites as well…and WE get the same emails and phone calls that you do. My INBOX is full of proposals where one company or another is totally willing (I am led to believe – out of the goodness of their hearts) to build me a brand new website that will look better than my current one AND RANK BETTER for $299.

Others offer their services 100% FREE. They just want to help me have a nicer, better looking, higher ranked website than my current one – and I guess they have nothing better to do than to do it for nothing.


Come to think of it, it MUST BE YOU GUYS who are also falling for the email scams where the Prince of USuckerland just died and has some money that he needs to funnel through your wallet and is willing to pay you a million dollars to do so.REALLY, PEOPLE?


Okay, let me set the record straight. I’ve never personally worked for a poncy-scheme or paper-only land sales, but you guys just seem to be willing to fall for anything. I was speaking with a long-time hotel-owner client a bit ago. She spent $2400 on a website back in 2010 and it served her well for years. We’ve spoken from time to time about the fact that her website was slowly dropping from those initial rankings. We’ve talked about what was needed to get it more highly ranked and we’ve talked “budget”. Each time, she wanted to think about it- until THE NEXT time it concerned her that she was coming up less and less on Google.

She’s obviously a loyal client as she FINALLY shared this little “pearl” with me. She stated, “Mike, I’ve been with you for a long time and like working with you but I receive emails and calls all the time about building me a brand new website for $400. Why do you tell me it will cost $4000?

I WANTED to be honest with her and answer her in one of these FIRST TWO WAYS…but I opted for the 3rd option below. But go ahead and take a look at my first two options:

OPTION ONE: “The reason that they can quote you $400 is that they are going to take your $400 buck and send about $25 of it to their slave-labor in India or Ukraine to build the site.”
OPTION TWO: “The reason that they can quote you $400 is that they could give a rat’s butt whether your website is a success after they’ve got your $400. I too could give you that $400 website and it will look nice, but go nowhere.”

 Instead, I opted for:

OPTION THREE: “PAM (my client)…use some LOGIC for one second. You’re a business owner. Does it REALLY make sense to you that ANYBODY can build you a TEN PAGE website for you for $400 that will BEAT ALL of the other hotels in your area AND TripAdvisor,,, REALLY?”


So back to what this BLOG post is all about….

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch

…not in ANY other industry of doing business B2B – and not on the internet either. Herein lies the “rub”. When all of this WWW stuff started; you know, back when old “Al Gore invented it”, things kind of were FREE. I mean you could out up a website (or web page back then) for just about any business and the darn thing would get you all the leads in the world. Stories were floating all over the net in those early days about people getting rich with early dot coms and then EVERYBODY and his brother put up a web page.
I OFTEN relate it this way to my own clients:
Once upon a time some brilliant person decided to create a “BOOK” that contained everyone’s phone numbers in it. Not long after, the same brilliant people figured out that it would be very brilliant to do the same thing with the businesses and to paint those pages yellow.
Then they got an even brighter idea. Why not sell some of those businesses PREMIUM AD SPOTS within those yellow pages. The first plumbers, heating and air, car dealerships to DO those ads – ALL got rich quick as the idea caught on.
Fast forward a few years later when nearly EVERY business had a yellow page ad. Guess what happened? The effectiveness of those ads became watered down because there were so many. THEN the only businesses who REALLY benefited from yellow page advertising were the businesses who spent a ton of money on BIGGER ADS.
That VERY SAME STORY applies to the internet. When there were fewer businesses with websites – there were more people looking at fewer websites that were available to them. While the number of people USING the internet has skyrocketed – so has the fact that every business worth calling themselves IN BUSINESS – has a website. So the effectiveness of websites have also become watered down.
GUESS who NOW gets seen the most? If you’ve been paying attention to the sentiment of this post, you’ll know that the answer is – THE BUSINESSES WHO HAVE THE BIGGEST, BADDEST, BEST websites and NOT some FREE or $400 website.

No different than in ANY other kind of business marketing – you pay for traffic one way or another.


SOMEWHERE, SOMEHOW the message started getting around that you can get something for nothing on the internet. NEVER has that been less a truth than now. If anything, it is JUST the opposite. While there may be no more cost-effective means of promoting your business than the internet – there is ALSO NO BETTER place to market your business than on the internet. However, unlike seemingly every Google Ad for web design “out there” you simply can’t get something for nothing.

If our website was one of those FREE or $400 websites, we’d be out of business in a month. While we devote a LOT of our own energies in building tons of content into our ORGANIC rankings – we also are willing to SPEND MONEY with Google to get us even more traffic and leads. We’re willing to devote man-hours to create (hopefully) eye-catching content – and content that will get us found for thousands of searches. You won’t get that with a small, 5-10-15 page website.


If you get ONE THING out of this BLOG, Take this to Heart…

You will NEVER get one piece of traffic to your website without paying someone. Your choices of WHO to pay are basically the following:

1. You can build a small website for a nominal fee and then pay GOOGLE for Adwords. Depending on your industry you can expect to pay $50-$100 a day for decent traffic.2. You can pay your web designer to build a bigger, better website than your competition. Typically that’s more of a one time thing and traffic should come. But per page costs can be $100-$200 depending on the design firm. For SEO pages, we tend to charge $175 unless they are bought in quantities. The benefits are long term – instead of daily having to pay you-know-who in Option 1.
3. You can have someone build a smaller, template-style website with CMS capabilities and basically pay YOURSELF to grow that website. You’re doing the work, but it’s a nice way to go if you’re willing to learn how to become a smart SEO person. The question is HOW VALUABLE IS YOUR TIME? If you’re spending all of your daylight create content pages and managing SEO and some measure of a Digital Campaign – I’m betting your own business will suffer to some degree.

 But the bottom line is that you WILL have to pay SOMEONE to get traffic to your website. Rankings don’t come to a small, FREE or cheap website. Rankings are what drives traffic and traffic drives leads and customers.

Unfortunately, many website owners deceive themselves into thinking that you’re not going to pay for organic SEO. The truth is, if you’re paying for traffic, or you’re doing SEO – even if you’re doing it yourself – you pay either way.

Paid traffic comes out of your pocket and goes to the advertisers.

Organic traffic (or “unpaid traffic”) comes out of your time, or your pocket to your SEO provider.

And that’s okay. It’s a cost of doing business.

However, don’t fool yourself. You’re going to pay to play, one way or another.

The good news is that more traffic equals more sales if you have the right system in place.

P.S. – With Google changing their algorithms nearly twice a day, it’s getting tougher than ever before to claim your “free” traffic, and if you don’t have the right information you can do more harm than good to your rankings. Next time, I’m going to write about why you need to change your mindset about paying Google. You pay for newspaper, radio, television and magazine advertising, right? Why not the best outreach of customer base on Earth? More to come on this soon…

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