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Beware of WYSIWYG websites

While many typical small Kiwi businesses are increasingly rushing to embrace low-cost What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWY) type website builders like Wix and Squarespace, a local digital agency is warning SMEs to beware that the templated sites may not be all they're purported to be.

CEO of Insight Online Kim Voon says that the chances of customers finding your WYSIWYG website through Google search are virtually zero.

"These days 40 per cent or more of website traffic to a business website is generated through organic Google search. For example, somebody enters the search 'local curry restaurants' into Google. They get a result. If your business has a WYSIWYG site, you have no chance of appearing in that customer's search.

"WYSIWYG websites are easy to set up and launch. They require no technical skill. It is easy to design a good-looking website using their drag-and-drop tools, but they're just brochures. New customers are not going to discover your website, and therefore your business, online unless they search your exact name," Voon says.

SMEs that want to generate customer traffic via the Internet are advised to stick with the tried-and-true website platforms like WordPress, Druple and Joomla (among others).

"WordPress is the most common CMS used by businesses because they can be customised enough to represent the needs and the brand of a company accurately. WordPress walks the line between being ease of use and decent functionality, but that means they are usually more expensive than something like a Wix site.

"If you want a website that is searchable on Google – one that can be search engine optimised with just enough customisation and general functionality that lets you attract and convert new business – then stay away from the WYSIWYG websites.

"If you want a small website, with two or three pages, that acts more like a brochure or a business card for direct traffic – where people know to look for your business individually – then a WYSIWYG website will work just fine. You cannot, however, benefit from SEO.

"Bear in mind too that small websites don't do well in search. The more content you have on a website, the better it will perform," Voon said.

The goal of every SME website should be unique and specific to the brand, which is almost impossible to achieve with a template website.

"With every WYSIWYG website, people need to have heard of your name and be looking to contact you or to check out your credentials.

"If your business gets bigger, you will want your site to be a lead generator. If you intend your website to be a sales and marketing funnel, you need more robust options. An easy step up is WordPress, but there are tons of CMS platforms at the level that SEO requires."

Voon says of popular CMS websites, WordPress owns 60 per cent of the market, followed by Joomla with 5.2 per cent and Druple with 3.4 per cent.

"If you’re a SME such as a plumber, and you have a WYWISYG website, make sure your Google My Business local listing is activated and up-to-date."

Voon says a good test to determine whether your business needs a WYSIWYG website or a more advanced SEO optimised site is to ask yourself, "If my website disappeared tomorrow, would my business go with it? If not, then a Wix or Squarespace site is perfectly acceptable.

"Besides Google My Business, there are other online marketing options available to plumbers other than search engine optimisation. For example, Facebook advertising. But if your website is an important lead generator, then trying to save a few dollars on Wix isn't going to cut it," Voon says.

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