How To Choose a Web Host
Finding cheap web hosting can seem like a good way to save money, however, it can end up costing you more in the long run if you choose the wrong provider.
This article will help you avoid the pitfalls and provide you with the right questions to ask before committing yourself and your businesses’ future to a hosting solution. When I first started building websites one of the things that caused me the most angst was issues with my hosting.
Right away I fell prey to one of those incredibly cheap offers that end up being very expensive by the time you pay for the necessary basics.
Sadder but wiser I found new hosting, but then ran into even more problems: from not being able to get help when I needed it, to finding out that no matter how well I build my website that it would never load fast enough to be commercially viable, I experienced all the pitfalls.
The essential things a Hosting company should offer.
Fast Loading Times:
Google recently did a research study on how page load times affect bounce rates and conversion rates. Bounce rates are how long visitors spend on your site before they ‘bounce’ or leave. After 3 Seconds you have lost 32% of your visitors and by 5 seconds 90%! You simply cannot have a website that loads slow. Ask the hosting company what the average loading time is for a well-built clean website on your plan.
Find out how they handle support. Look for in-house 24/7 live chat help at the least if not telephone support. Trying to explain complex technical issues by email and having to wait for clarification if something was not explained well enough the first time, is time-consuming at best and maddening at the worst.
No matter what we do to keep up with hackers and thieves, they are always finding new ways to get into our websites so a hosting companies’ attention to security is very important. Ask what they do to safeguard their customers’ websites. A good hosting company offers daily backups so if your website is hacked, they can reinstall it for you in minutes. Check to see if they have anything in place to help you clean up malware. Always ask what they will do to help you if your website gets hacked.
Good Uptime Percentage:
Servers sometimes experience downtime and this can not only cost you money but again it can affect your website’s search ranking. Look for uptime of at least 99% preferably above 99.5 %.
Storage Space and Bandwidth:
Make sure you check to see how much is available and if it suits your traffic and website size. A good company offers unlimited but check the small print, this sometimes is constrained by a fair usage policy and if say you traffic suddenly increases when your blog article goes viral, you could end up with hefty added charges.
Some bonus things to look for:
Content delivery networks are used by larger companies like Amazon and Google but they also work great for small businesses as well. They improve your site’s performance, speed, and security while reducing load times and improving SEO rankings they do this by reducing the amount of time it takes for content on a page to be loaded from its original location and then transferred to another server closer to your visitor by instead loading from the Cloud close to where your visitor resides saving them valuable minutes in browsing experience! This can also increase your profits by helping you show up in local search results.
VPS or Shared Hosting:
There are three basic types of hosting. Shared, VPS (Virtual Private Server) and a Dedicated Server. Dedicated Servers are only needed for big corporations or when you have a big budget and need high security.
Shared hosting is perfect for website owners in their early stages. This type of plan will allow you to host your site on the same server as other websites, which means you share resources as you need them making it a very affordable solution.
VPS is in between these two and stands for Virtual private Network. With VPS hosting, each website is hosted within its own space on the server and not affected by problems with other websites, so if you have a busy E-Commerce site you may want to look for VPS hosting.
Free SSL Certificate:
SSL certificates help to keep user data secure, verify ownership of the website and can prevent hackers from creating a fake version of the site. They also create trust in the website visitor.
Look for a company that provides a basic free SSL Certificate so your website visitors won’t get frightened away by a browser message telling them that your site might be unsafe. At least ask how much it costs and of course, any E-commerce solution needs a more advanced SSL Certificate to protect their customer’s banking information.
Look for what other freebies a hosting company may offer that can add value like free emails or free migrations.
The best web hosts will offer free trials or even guarantees to demonstrate how sure they are in their good service. This flexibility can be important because often you don’t know which plan is best for you until after you start building your website and the ability to change plans or even move hosting is important.
What to avoid:
Proprietary Website Hosting:
There are some companies out there that allow you to easily build pretty websites that unfortunately have exceedingly poor functionality to the point where the website is not fit for professional use. By the time you realize this or that making it fit for commercial use would make it unfairly expensive, it is too late. They do not allow you to migrate the website off of their server so you are either stuck with them or you give up the website you worked so hard to create.
Most hosting companies offer very cheap deals the first year to lure you in. Just be careful some appear cheap but by the time you pay for all the essentials they frame as extras; it is very expensive. Don’t assume all hosting is the same and take the cheapest deal. It will double or triple to the usual price the next year and they may charge for additions that come for free with hosting that costs a few Euro more.
Listening to You Tube Gurus:
I have learned more from You Tube about Marketing than I ever did from my expensive University course, so I am not against using it as a resource to learn from if you are selective, but if you go to Utube to watch videos comparing different hosting companies, just beware because although they may be great teachers and give you real value educationally, they are usually getting an affiliate payment from referring you to a hosting provider, some of these tutors are sincere and will only recommend hosting they use themselves that they are truly happy with, and will let you know they are getting an affiliate payment, but many will quite happily recommend a nightmare hosting company or another service for that matter just to get their kickback.
In short, make sure you read the small print and ask a lot of questions, and don’t assume hosting is hosting. Read the reviews and good luck!