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Template Websites and SEO

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

So you have a great business going and you know you need to get a website up as part of the general business plan. You have priced out a few companies and are thinking you can do this yourself for a lot less, using a template for your site. In the real estate business this is a pretty common scenario. But if you want anyone to find you through Google you may be in for a big surprise. That’s because many of the things that make a template website so easy to do also make it hard to rank with Google.

Content Management System Flexibility

Just about any template you will use does come with a Content Management System (CMS) so you can make changes to your content. This is great if the CMS is robust and you can make the tweaks you need to respond to all the changes we see regarding SEO and page rankings from Google. But unfortunately, most of them don’t allow that much flexibility for the simple reason they are made with the lowest common denominator in mind. They have the system that works for the largest amount of people at the time it was designed. That may not include your needs, so good luck getting it to do what you need to get your site to rank.

Duplicate Content Problems

horrible-template-websitesThis is one of the big no-nos for Google, duplicate content. But the very nature of a template website means that the majority of your content will be canned material for your industry that you have little or no ability to alter. So your site reads, to Google, like hundreds if not thousands of other sites in your industry. Again, real estate sites are a good example of this. Ever notice that they all tend to look alike and say the same things? Google rewards original content because that is what people are looking for, and they will reward your site for having all original content when you make the decision to not use a template.

Support Problems

Of course, try getting just about anyone in customer support to help you when you do run into a problem with your template site. It isn’t intentional, they just sell so many of these that if they handled every call that came their way they would never have time to design new templates! So you can crawl the FAQ section of their site and hope to find an answer in the chat room they have set up. But don’t expect to talk to a real honest-to-goodness person.

Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where getting a template site would help. My kid sister has one that she uses for her blog about whatever favorite pop star she is following this week, and I know a few people who have used them successfully for showing off the latest photos from their last trip. But for a business, where you want your visitors to see your site as a professional one, the bottom line is you get what you pay for. This is true for any kind of business, and that includes the one that builds your site.

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