It’s tough love time. During the length of time we have been helping local businesses create a presence for their business online through either online advertising, websites, social media, or whatever service they required, our team has been educating the small business owner as they hear the common “But my brothers friend can build a website.” or “I just put up a free GoDaddy site.”.

In the past couple weeks I have witnessed no less than 4 friends who have either posted on Facebook that they spent a day on the weekend and put together a new website or witnessed a restaurant that posted they have a new website and you visit it and its a hacked together free site on GoDaddy that will frustrate the visitors from the time they enter the site.

I completely understand that businesses have limited budgets, I have their backs on that more often than not. Every dollar out of these businesses cash register is a dollar that can go towards making their mortgage payment when its a family owned business, which it is in many cases.

But in virtually every case I have witnessed lately these same businesses are spending money on billboards, newspaper ads, or other legacy marketing methods that would more than cover the cost of a well designed and search friendly website that they can maintain and use to benefit their business.

The problem is most businesses think about their website as an afterthought, or as an “I guess I should have one” item when in reality in todays world it is the first place people are going to look for any information about the business.

I do not mean to pick on GoDaddy, I am a GoDaddy customer for domain registrations, but if you are trying to effectively market your business you cannot put up a free website with no professional input and expect real results. Which is what causes my major concern, as much as we would like their business, in all reality I have a passion about getting people online, I really CARE about them doing well online because I KNOW it is possible. But when they build a website like this with no consultation or understanding and then get a bad taste in their mouth because of improper techniques it taints their next interaction with someone that may be genuinely trying to provide them a service.

So, local business owners, please understand that there is a difference between truly doing something great for your business online and just building a website as an afterthought. Its a great start to show the interest in building something online, but make let someone help you make the right steps so you do not lose those customers once they get there.