Renting a website has become common practice. A company – often an SEO or content marketing company – creates a generic website filled with information, and you simply rent the website from them, inputting your business name and information.
It’s an interesting business strategy, and one that can conceivably be effective. Normally you have to start a website from scratch and market it substantially. There is often a fairly high up-front investment as well. But when you rent a website for your business, the website is done and ready. You pay a monthly rate, and the hits keep coming in.
Features of a Website Worth Renting
Not all website rentals are created equal. In fact, most website rentals use tactics that can actually hurt you in the long run – or at least are causing you to pay for basically nothing. Any website worth renting should have all of the following:
- Unique Content – This is most important, and where most website rental companies cut corners. Your website has to be written with unique content. Most rental companies buy out hundreds of domains in various locations, and then cut and paste the exact same content at each location, changing only a few words and the name of the city. If your website has copied content, it will not rank and you will not get any hits from search engines – almost literally zero. Search engines punish those that copy content, even if it’s owned by the company. If it’s not written specifically for your website and your website only, it’s not worth renting. (Helpful tip: Run pages of your website through copyscape.com, or cut and paste a sentence from your website in quotations into Google. Your website should be the first one that comes up.)
- Options to Add Pages – Similarly, you should only rent websites that allow you to add pages. Your services differ from others in your industry, as do your locations. Running a blog is also an important part of marketing. If you can’t add pages to the site you’re renting, it’s not worth renting, because it indicates that you can’t do anything to make your website better.
- Cost/Reward – This is where information is power. You need to make sure that the monthly costs are worth the reward to your business. Remember that once you have a website, it’s normally yours forever. But with a rented website, your website can be sold or rented to someone else at a higher rate at any moment. That’s okay if you’re really getting business from the website, but it’s terrible if you’re the one doing most of the marketing work. Make sure that the monthly costs are providing you with some financial reward.
Remember that starting your own website, while it costs more, is also a better investment overall simply because you own it. Indeed, when you rent from a company, if anything happens they can take your website from you forever and you are forced to start from scratch. It may still be worth it if the website is affordable and converting well, but if it’s not then you’re investing a great deal of money into a website that both isn’t yours and isn’t providing you with any ROI.
Website rentals may be part of the future of marketing, simply because not all websites have the upfront investment money necessary to start a competitive website on their own. There’s nothing wrong with renting a website. But unique content, the ability to market the site, and an indication that renting the site will provide you with a decent ROI is very important, otherwise you’re spending money on the website equivalent of a placeholder.