Most business owners understand the value of creating quality web content and the importance of developing a responsive company website. However, the process of selecting a reliable web hosting company is often ignored or underestimated.
When business owners take the time to select a reliable web hosting company, they ensure their website remains accessible and secure at all times. Haphazardly choosing a web host, based on something like pricing alone, can produce disastrous results. Learn exactly what web hosting is, why it matters and our best tips for selecting the right host for your business.
What is web hosting?
For a website to be viewed by anyone other than its creator, a web host must be involved. The hosting, generally done by a third-party provider, allows the site to be accessed by other people on the internet. Web hosting also provides a secure place to store a website’s coding – any pictures, videos or text featured on the site. This storage ensures higher security for the website and all its content. A web host can further provide additional tech support and enhancements so that visitors have a more positive experience interacting with the site, thanks to faster loading speeds and efficiency.
Examples of web hosts are WPEngine, BlueHost and GoDaddy. These companies provide web hosting, among other services. Virtually everyone with a website needs web hosting, whether it’s a website for their business or a hobby.
Why is choosing the right web hosting service important?
Each web hosting service package offers different features and levels of storage and security. It’s important to consider the hosting features you need and let them guide your decision on a provider. One feature that’s an absolute must is a high level of security, as security breaches, corrupt data or coding, and stolen content mean more work for you on the back end and potentially a loss in sales during the recovery time.
The right web host will also provide technical stability for your website. Sites that regularly have long downtimes due to hosting issues often see a drop in their search rankings. If your website is down, the great content you developed can’t be accessed and indexed by the search engines. This can have a negative effect on your website’s ranking in search results and decrease your company’s credibility. A consequence of both scenarios is a likely downturn in sales and online customer engagement.
With the right web hosting service, you’ll receive higher security, better site performance and response times, and tech support. The more you invest in the site’s performance and improving visitors’ experiences, the greater your revenue will be. After all, business owners should want to keep consumers engaged on their websites, as that usually boosts sales.
How do I choose a web hosting service?
Here are 10 tips that will help business owners choose the right web host for their company’s website. Following these steps will prevent mistakes that could create big problems for your company later. Be sure also to consider the best website builders and design services to make your business’s site the best it can be.
1. Determine which kind of web host you need.
Understanding the needs of your business can help narrow your web hosting options. If you plan to build a website that features video blogging, 24-hour livestreaming, and the ability for visitors to register and upload their own videos, your website would require more features than someone using their website as a virtual resume. Websites that receive a lot of daily traffic will likely not function well on a shared web server because these servers are designed to accommodate a lot of small websites that have limited demands.
2. Choose the right hosting package.
Many small businesses turn to shared hosting as a way to save money, but with the smaller price tag comes a bigger risk of slow website response times. This is most likely due to an influx of traffic on a server with limited bandwidth. Slow websites turn customers away and can cost you greatly. An option like a virtual private server (VPS) is slightly more expensive, but it provides a faster, higher-quality web performance and delivers a better customer experience. VPS hosting is a more efficient option for larger websites with higher anticipated traffic.
3. Read reviews of web hosting companies.
Refer to reputable websites when researching the reliability and reputation of web hosts. Researching a web hosting company through third-party reviews is useful in discovering any consistent issues or complaints from current or past users. Pay attention to how the company responds to complaints, if the company even responds at all. This will give you an idea of how the hosting provider deals with unhappy customers.
4. Get the proper bandwidth.
While most new websites don’t use a lot of bandwidth, it is important to leave room for growth. Make sure the web hosting company you choose doesn’t lock you into a certain amount of bandwidth and then charge you additional fees if you need to revise your hosting plan later. [Read related article: What Is the Best Internet Speed for Your Business?]
5. Don’t get stuck on price.
When you’re a new business owner with a limited budget, signing up with the web hosting company offering the lowest price might be very tempting. As cliché as it sounds, remember that you get what you pay for. The cheapest price might mean slow servers, poor customer service, constant downtime or an association with thousands of unprofessional websites.
6. Read the terms of service.
Most people accept a company’s terms of service without bothering to read exactly what they’re agreeing to, resulting in unwanted fees, policies and limitations you need to be aware of. The terms of service usually include the refund policy, which is critical to know in case you have a negative experience or find a better service later on.
Tip: Be cautious when accepting a company’s terms of service, as it is an official agreement between you and the web host.
7. Test the customer support.
When researching web hosting companies, always look for a way to contact the provider’s customer support. Can you quickly and easily contact them via email, chat or phone? If yes, great. Now test them. See how customer support responds to your queries so you can assess the quality of the customer service they provide. Be sure to test each support feature before you purchase any services to see if they meet your company’s needs.
8. Know the backup plan.
It doesn’t really matter why your website is down or why you lost your website’s data. You just need to know whether the web hosting company you’re working with has a backup plan to help you recover. It can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to recover lost data, code or content from a website. In addition, consider all the time it would take to recreate your entire website. When investigating potential web hosts, find out how they handle the worst-case scenarios.
Tip: Keep a backup copy of your website so you can get it up and running again in a shorter time frame. See our best picks for online backup services.
9. Ask about security features.
Security breaches happen, even to the mom-and-pop store in that small town in Idaho. Make sure your web hosting company has Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to safeguard your customers’ private information. This is essential for facilitating safe and secure online transactions and should be a feature provided by the web hosting company.
Did you know? SSL certificates are essential for protecting your online store and securing transactions made through your website.
10. Avoid the new guy who can’t handle growth.
New web host companies often offer low prices, hoping they’ll make up for it with a large influx of clients. However, most new hosting companies are not equipped to manage that many clients at once successfully. It’s best to stick with a more established company that can deal with growth without compromising its clients’ experiences.
When a web hosting company experiences growth too quickly and doesn’t have resources to handle it, that creates problems for business owners, like downtime, slow page loads, lost revenue and negative effects on search rankings. Your web host provides a virtual storefront for your business. You should carefully select a virtual storefront just as you would a brick-and-mortar one. Know your needs, read the contract, do your research and ask about security issues before selecting a web host for your business. Learn more about finding out the essential questions to ask your web developer.
Sean Peek contributed to the writing and research in this article.