Verizon has teamed up with Intuit to bring a new service to small businesses. This service is known as “Verizon Websites powered by Intuit”. This is targeted towards the small business community that do not normally build a website due to lack of budget. This service is provided for free if you purchase one of Verizon’s small business services or you can can purchase a package that best fits your needs from Verizon’s small business website (http://smallbusiness.verizon.com/).
Verizon Websites offers you the ability to choose from over 2,000 different templates to build your site from. Verizon states that it is as simple as drag and drop to build your website. You can change out photos, logos, text, etc. You can also easily drop in Paypal shopping carts and maps to your business. Verizon Websites also allows you to use Intuit’s WebListings program which adds you to over 100 web directories and search engines.
Now on to my concerns. I have not be able to find a website that is currently using this service and with no free trial service, I have not been able to test it out myself.
I am first concerned with the search engine optimization of these templated sites. As I stated in a previous article, having a web presence is important, therefore I am sure this is better than nothing. I would be interested to see if the links are clean and the site is designed to be easily read by the search engine spiders. In relation with SEO, when you choose a template from your industry, they text is already filled out for each page. They encourage you to change the parts you need to to make it your own. A big issue is that everyone else using the same content that you are using. This means search engines will not see your content as being original and may not rank your site as high. You can always overwrite their text with your own, however I fear most small business owners will not.
Another concern I have is on the legal ownership of the website itself. Working with past clients that have used business website services, such as this one, they had a hard time getting their domain transfered to their control. This is needed should you later decide to hire a web design firm to develop a custom website for you. Again, this service is new and I have no way of testing this, so I am looking for anyone that uses this service to correct me.
One last concern is that small business owners may use Verizon Websites in place of hiring a web design firm, even when they can afford one. These type of sites make everyone a designer. I am sure many of us have been to websites that have been developed by someone that was not a designer and it was blatantly obvious. If you use a service such as Verizon Websites, be sure to keep your site looking professional. You do not want to chase off the customers you worked so hard to get to your site because of a bad design.
Overall, the price is great for the “Starter Package” of Verizon Websites. At $4.99 per month, they give you a 5 page website and domain name. They do not give you a lot of space or bandwidth, only 25mb of storage and 5gb a month of transfer, however for a small 5 page website, this should suffice. Verizon Websites pricing for the “Gold Package” is $19.99 per month. This package offers up to 100 pages across 3 websites and gives you 5gb of storage and 100gb a month of transfer. At this rate, I do not believe it is worth your investment. For a website of this size, you really should be looking at hiring a web design firm to develop a custom website for your business.