[Category: Web SEO]
Nov. 21, 2019
MailChimp is best known for its free "email" lists where you can have up to 2,000 users (12,000 emails a month) without having to pay. MailChimp is trying to capture the small businesses that are new or are tired of paying someone else to maintain their WordPress website. They are even offering users the ability to use a custom domain name. One warning the product is in Beta (as in testing), and if you are comfortable with WordPress, which is much further along, I'd recommend staying. That doesn't mean you can't create a landing page or a simple website; it means that some kinks have to be worked out.
There are limitations as to formatting, especially with where you can place images and text, and the format can be quirky at times. However, you can import images and create backgrounds. If you're copying text from an existing site, be aware you may pull in HTML that is preserved in the copied text. Perhaps if they continue to improve the interface and allow for multiple page styles like WordPress and other CMS (Content Management Systems), I could see more people using it. You can create multiple pages, and of course, there's an easy way to capture email addresses to add to your MailChimp mailings. Another nice feature is the website statistics are available there as well for free, similar to the reports on email recipients you have access to data of people who visit your FREE website.
Another free option is from Google My Business which has been around for some time. For those unfamiliar with Google My Business, it's where you can control your Google presence and update your business hours and reply to reviews on Google. The FREE feature has been around for quite some time and has been updated so there's less bugs. The advantage to users is that if you keep your "My Business" up to date, Google takes the uploaded images, business hours, and other information already in their system and populates it for you automatically. If you've verified your business on Google Webmaster, you can also point a custom domain name directly to your free "site."
The Mailchimp and Google options are not designed to allow for much more, and probably that is for the best. The target audience is a small business that doesn't want to learn WordPress (and I'm not talking about 80% of its users that have no idea what they are doing) but make a good effort at keeping their sites up to date. Another good thing about Google and Mailchimp's "free plans" is no constant updating of Plugins or the CMS platform; that's all done for you.
WordPress is offered FREE with limitations at WordPress.com, not associated with WordPress.org, the non-profit organization that maintains WordPress. Free users cannot use their domain names unless they pay for one of the hosting packages. Another issue is having to learn how to use WordPress something most people never really do or have the time for.
Other hosting companies with "FREE" options include Wix and Squarespace. I have previously written on Squarespace [May 12, 2019]. As for Wix, it's relatively easy to use, and there is an upgrade path to additional paid services. What I don't like about either of these two is that if you choose to pay for hosting, it's difficult to move your site if you are unhappy. The free versions of both Wix and Squarespace do not allow for a custom domain name, and in the case of Wix, there's also advertising. Unlike a WordPress site that you can easily backup and move with all your files and images, there is no escape path from any of these. Some people have resorted to Scraping their site and placing it at another hosting company, but I'm pretty sure you're violating your agreement with them and opening yourself to legal action.
If you're a heavy Mailchimp user who is looking to keep things in one place, be prepared to take a little bit of time getting familiar with the tools before starting, it will be a lot less aggravating. If you want to make your life simple, make sure your business listing on Google is verified, up to date, and has great images that you've uploaded, and you may have very little to do. Regarding Google, there is a tendency to create free properties on Google and later drop support, but this option has been around for some time and looks like it's getting support and updating.
My recommendation if you don't want to pay for a website, or are looking for a straightforward FREE solution one of these may be for you. If you have the time I say try them all, FREE is free, remember to take down whatever sites you decide not to go with, you don't want the search engines sending people to a site you are not going to monitor or support.
Visitor Comments: [COMMENTS CLOSED] Note: Pages are moderated.
I just signed up on one of the FREE sites and after wasting lots of time I found out that it wasn't free if I wanted to use my domain name. How do they get away with it?
Larry [Dec. 18, 2019]
I tried those "free" services with a "free" domain, the following year they wanted to charge me three times as much for the domain name alone.
Ralph [Nov. 26, 2019]
The free services are great for small operations where there is no real budget. The Google "website" is the equivalent to a "business card" you have them but they're not critical.
PAL [Nov. 26, 2019]
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I've used the Google "free option" and later upgraded once my business was more established. The auto populating feature made is simple.
Holly [Nov. 21, 2019]
These options are great for small business who can't afford to keep paying for simple changes, I'm sure we'll see more of these become available as consumer demand increases.
Smiles [Nov. 21, 2019]
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