in Web Issues

Should you use a portal website for your website?

Of all products/services, perhaps websites are misunderstood by small business owners, and perhaps rightly so – there’s a lot of confusion out there, a lot of techno-babble and very little answers. Secondly, cost seems to be a large issue; although strangely it’s not the main reason…

I’ve noticed that portal sites (ie: local community driven websites) are starting to offer low-cost websites to local small businesses and essentially using the brand of the local portal site to act as a “piggy-back” to traffic. I’ve also seen some portal websites that offer FREE google adverts for 10.00+ per month.

But whilst this is all good, I see one or two problems.

  1. Firstly, it’s not really *your* website.
    What do I mean by that? Well I mean it’s not a proper www.yourcompanyname.com website – in fact, if you look closely, it really the portal’s website, and your brand/business is piggybacking on the back of the brand of the portal
  2. Over-reliance on Google PPC (Pay-per-click)
    Some portal sites offer guaranteed low-cost adverts on google, but most of the time the adverts on Google aren’t specifically for *your* company, if you look *very* closely you’ll notice the advert URL (website address) is that of the portal, not your website. Yes, the key phrases will market your business, but what you’re really doing is driving traffic to the portal’s website, not to your website… Secondly, relying soley on PPC makes you incredibily dependent on the PPC scheme, ask yourself do people really click on PPC adverts, or do they rely on normal (or organic) search results?
  3. The thinking of “I just need a website”
    Of course we you just want a website, and the natural assumption with using a portal website to hang your website on is a cheap, low-cost, low-mainteance and high-traffic way of getting your business online, but is it really helping your business – or is it just an advert on a portal website and nothing more? The question isn’t I just need a website, but rather what will the website do for your business, and why?
  4. There are other competitors advertising on the portal
    You might think so what, right? But hang on, if your advertising your website on the same place that your competitor is, then how is the whole portal different to say the classifieds or the yellow pages? There is no reason why anyone would want to choose you over a competitor. Sure the website’s cheap, but if the cost of having your website along your competitors is the price of your customer going elsewhere, then you need to ask yourself if it’s really of benefit to your business.

Should you ever use portal websites as a piggy back for your own website? Well, depending on your budget and of course if you don’t really care about your business brand, and you *just* want a website — then sure go for it, but if your serious about your business, serious about your website and recognise that your brand needs an effective web site (note, I didn’t say a web presence) then forget about portal sites, they won’t help your business in the long-run.