Yahoo Offers Free Web Sites to Small Businesses. Should I Do This or Pay to Build My Own Site?
It seems as though I answer all of these questions with “it depends.” The short answer is: Yes, do it. The longer answer is: Do it as a short-term solution and then build your own site.
If you’ve already got a site, skip to the article Where should I put my money, toward a better Web site or more online marketing?
Be warned, the free Yahoo sites are quite basic. It’s a five-page, wizard-driven product. One significant drawback is that you can’t use your own URL — you get an extension of a Yahoo URL (e.g., http://ca.local.yahoo.biz/yournamehere).
Here are the steps in the process:
- Choose Style (basic layout and site colors)
- Site Settings (fonts, font sizes and logo/image)
- Home Page (text that describes your business)
- About Us (text and testimonials)
- What We Offer (more text fields)
- Additional Links (option to include links to other sites)
- Contact Us (hours, address, phone, directions)
- Save and Publish
As you can see, it’s fairly straightforward. You can preview and edit or later go back and change any of this information. However, take a look the pages in advance to get an idea of what information you’ll need to provide. You’ll find the front door to this process at Yahoo! Local.
A few years ago there were a number of companies offering free, ad-supported Web sites for small business. Basically, all of those companies failed. The small business market didn’t take the Internet seriously enough back then. It wasn’t real for most small businesses. Now it is.
Yahoo has been trying to encourage traditional small businesses to provide their information directly to the portal so that it can include that content in search results and in the Yahoo Local directory.
The free site offering is something of an introduction to Yahoo’s small business merchant solutions, which includes a range of richer, more complex Web hosting and marketing options. As you might guess, these more elaborate options aren’t free of course.
Yahoo hopes that businesses setting up free sites will later want and need something more “robust.” And when those free-site businesses are ready to upgrade, Yahoo believes they will do so within the Yahoo system.
Another benefit of the free site is that like any Web site, it can be used as a “landing page” in a search-engine marketing campaign. But if you haven’t got a site, you’re probably a few steps away from search-engine marketing.
While it’s no substitute for an online marketing program, the free Yahoo offering is worth taking advantage of if you currently don’t have a site and want some immediate exposure. This will deliver that and can be created in about a half hour.