What are the risks of buying a cheap website?

09 March 2018

It’s not uncommon to see cheap website deals online boasting all the features you would expect at a rock bottom price. But what’s the catch? Let’s find out.

1. Cheap web design is nearly always cheap because it's outsourced

Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with outsourcing. It’s the quality of the outsourcing that matters. A number of things that can have an impact on the quality of outsourcing include:

Outsourcing web design to non-native English speakers

Using a non-native English speaking web design and development team can sometimes result in miscommunications about the design and development of the website, due to language barriers. This in turn can lead to more amends being necessary to get the final design right.

A typical example of this is a taxi website styled with bold yellows and multiple stock photos of yellow cabs — perfect for a taxi company in the United States, but not so ideal for a UK based taxi company. Mistakes like this can be frustrating and often delay projects.

Outsourcing content writing to non-native English writers

Content written by non-native English speakers can sometimes be a bit hit and miss.

This is because cheap content is often produced in ‘content farms’ where unskilled writers are expected to churn out large quantities of poorly researched content in exchange for very little pay.  

This can lead to serious errors with grammar, punctuation and spelling – all of which can lower the readability of your content for both users and search engines, which in turn can negatively impact how well your website ranks on Google and Bing.

You can find out more about ways to improve your website content by following our guide to The 5 most common mistakes with website content.

2. Sometimes the cheapest way to build a website is to steal it

And that’s exactly what some unsavoury companies do.

In the past, we have caught companies making copies of our customer websites and selling them on, sometimes without even bothering to remove the Thomson Local branding!

It’s also not uncommon to see bots attempting to scrape the business listings directly off Thomsonlocal.com for the purposes of creating their own business directories.

This happens all the time with content. So the next time you purchase content on the cheap, it may have just been stolen from another websites too, sometimes with minimal effort made to re-write it. This results in duplicate content issues that can lead to the copied (or original page) not being indexed on Google.

3. Cheap websites can have poor security

How does the saying go again? Buy it cheap, pay for it twice?

If you buy a cheap website then the chances are that security won’t be a major concern for the person that builds it for you.

Most websites will be powered by a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress and at launch this should be the latest version, making your website relatively secure.

Unfortunately, hackers are always keen to expose flaws in WordPress, so over time your website will become increasingly vulnerable to attack from automated bots that scour the internet looking for easy targets.

Any self-respecting web development company will either set WordPress up with automatic security updates or will make it an ongoing  practice to keep the security of their customers websites up to scratch.

So if you paid £99 to have your website designed by your neighbours, cousins, uncles best friend, the chances are that you are on your own.

4. Cheap websites probably won’t be optimised for mobile

If the website developer is stacking them high and selling them cheap, they probably won’t have much of a financial incentive to test the websites functionality on various browsers, screen resolutions and devices.

A poor user experience on mobile isn’t a great selling point for a business website. Google certainly won’t take too kindly to it either, resulting in reduced SEO performance on the search engines  – which leads us to the next point. 

5. Cheap websites aren't likely to be optimised for search engines

At last count there were over 200 known SEO factors that influence how well a website performs in organic searches. How many of those do you think your cheap website designer will focus on?

At the very least, a decent web developer will ensure that your website is structured correctly, loads within a decent amount of time and has all the necessary functionality available to provide a good user experience.

For more advanced search engine optimisation, such as professionally written content or offsite citations, you would need the services of a dedicated SEO – something that you will not get from a cheap website provider.

To find out more about the basics of SEO check out our guide: What exactly is SEO and why do I need it?

Buy an affordable website, not a cheap one

Thomson Local provides a web design service, with the work outsourced to a well-respected American owned web design company called Web.com.

Our websites are priced well below the high-end prices charged by many other providers, making our websites more affordable and perhaps more importantly, not cheap.

To find out more please visit our Web Design Product page, give us a quick call on 03330 145 045 or just pop an email over to info@thomsonlocal.com.


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Author -
SEO Manager Thomson Local

Rob has a decade of experience in SEO, Copywriting and Digital Marketing. He enjoys creative writing having previously written a humorous short book about life in retail as well as several film scripts. Like any self-respecting blogger he has a love of cats and enjoys a nice cup of tea. You can find out more about Rob via his LinkedIn and Writing Portfolio.

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