Website Builders: You Get What You Pay For

The other day I talked to a lawyer in San Diego, California. He had built his website himself with a website builder at a popular hosting company and was convinced he had made a good choice. Since both of us were curious about the actual costs and payoff, we started playing with numbers.

Hosting Costs:

While his hosting charges were a bit lower, neither did he receive detailed reports about visitors, nor search engine ranking reports. He also had to log into his control panel to set up his emails.
There was no spam protection offered when displaying his email address as a link.

Search Engine Visibility:

Talking about search engines – we searched for his website on Google, Yahoo and Bing, also tested similar websites of law firms built with this type of website builders:
As a first attempt we searched for a combination of city and practice area, then several combinations of city, county plus service. The shocking result was that although his city was relatively small (90,000) his website was not listed for any term amongst the first 1000 results. Although the domain name included the lawyer’s name, searching for his name showed him on page eight of Google’s result (to be exact, number 76).

We tried the same with a $900 website we built for of a client of ours. Although the site was launched only five weeks ago, the site already had one Google first page listing,  four Google 2nd page listings, and several results around #40-70. The lawyer’s name showed on the first results page of Google.


The lawyer’s website was visited about 10 times per month.  There was no data available, where the visitors came from, how long they stayed on the site, which pages they visited and where they left. No regional information was provided. There was no distinction between new and returning visitors.

The site we built for our client received steadily an average of 160 visitors per month, about 120 of those visitors belonged were searching on Google’s organic search. Due to our automatically created traffic reports, we now know which keywords are the most called for and can use the data to improve his search engine listing.


The design of the website builder was basic from a template — images that the lawyer had  inserted looked too crisp – an effect that occurs when a large image is scaled down. The size of fonts was not balanced.
Our website looked unique and easy to navigate, images were clear, related to the content and inserted with drop shadow and a  15px padding towards the text.


Our lawyer- friend spent around 5 hours figuring out the design and learning the website builder, 7 hours collecting his content, and another 5 hours to assemble his site. If we calculate his hourly rate at $250 and give him a 50% discount, this brings him to $2,125 + $100=2,225.00.
Our website client  paid $900 to us and used 7 hrs =$875 of his time for collecting his content (remember, we gave him 50% discount). Total $1775.00.

Result: He invested his time and money into a product that gives him a far less chance of acquiring a client through his site.


Matt Schaefer