Website hosting is a fundamental necessity when it comes to launching your new website, but for many marketers and small business owners, this can often become a confusing muddle when all you want to do is get your new website live!
In simple terms, a website hosting service delivers a platform for you to publish your website on the internet. The service provider is responsible for hosting your files, assets, and data on a server, ensuring anyone with an internet connection can visit your website in a safe and secure manner.
We know from our experience the website hosting provider market is extremely competitive. There are a plethora of choices that can become overwhelming and create unnecessary headaches. It is therefore vital to consider the services as a partnership, rather than a customer vs supplier relationship.
What types of web hosting are there?
Most web hosts will offer different types of hosting and each will vary in cost. It all depends on your website’s needs. Let’s explore the different types of website hosting to see which one best matches your needs.
Shared hosting is a good option for blogs or start-ups/small businesses. It provides affordable hosting because everyone shares the same server, splitting costs. While in the past spikes in traffic to one website would slow down another, that is rare in today’s market due to the increase in resources from hosting platforms to ensure good performance.
WordPress (WP) Hosting
WordPress powers over 30% of the World Wide Web, so there is no surprise a dedicated hosting service has been developed to ensure WP websites deliver a smooth customer experience. Common features include security updates, one-click installation, and faster loading times.
VPS, or Virtual Private Server to give its full name, has a similar set-up to shared hosting, except each website has its own section within the server. This often provides more processing power, memory, and storage, with options to customize accordingly. VPS is a recommended option for businesses that have skilled IT teams with server management skills.
A dedicated hosting service means you have the entire server to yourself. In most cases, this isn’t a viable option for small or medium-sized businesses, but if your website is starting to use up more bandwidth than a shared or VPS hosting plan, this could be an option to explore.
Cloud hosting has become somewhat of an ambiguous term within the IT sector, so it pays to look at the small print if you wish to proceed down this route. In plain terms, cloud hosting is a VPS setup that can be scaled to multiple servers, allowing websites to cope with sudden traffic spikes.
6 tips to choose the right hosting plan for your business
There are millions of businesses across the world that operate solely from the internet. The choice for consumers is greater than it has ever been. Therefore, choosing the right hosting plan that loads your website quickly and reliably is so important for your business. After all, if the website takes too long to load, there is a problem, or even if the website is simply offline, your customers will be off to a competitor’s website.
Website hosting providers, as we explained above, offer a wide range of solutions. Finding the right hosting plan is vital for your business. Here are 6 tips to steer you in the right direction.
1. Document what you need and why
The best type of website hosting platform depends on the size and scalability of your business. If your business doesn’t have an internal IT department, then looking for a partner who can manage the website maintenance and hosting is a sensible approach. A good starting point is to document how you expect your website to perform, the functionality you require, and ask hosting providers how they can best help meet your needs.
2. What support is available?
Let’s imagine you have an e-commerce site. Or perhaps your website is the main driver of leads into your business. For every minute your website is offline, you’re losing out on potential customers. Therefore, it’s vital to examine the levels of customer support you can expect to receive when there’s an issue (technical errors, DNS attacks, etc).
For example, is your provider based in the U.S. or overseas? Are they available 24/7 or during business hours? What method of communication is available? These are important checks to cover before signing up.
As your business grows, you’ll need your website to grow too. This means finding a hosting provider who can scale to meet your needs in a seamless fashion. However, you may discover you’ve got too much storage space, and so downgrading is a sensible option. Partnering with a provider who will allow you to move up or down is a sensible long-term solution.
4. Do you need special or advanced features?
For more advanced hosting provisions key questions such as server locations and platform specializations come into play. The data center location can affect load times, which contribute to website performance. If you have a WordPress platform or another CMS that needs special requirements, then you’ll need to discuss with the website host how they will support your needs.
5. Will your website be secure?
If there’s a security breach with your website, then it’ll be your brand’s reputation which takes a hit. Taking the time to examine how the website host will protect your server and website will mitigate your risk.
6. Price and user feedback
We are all price-sensitive, so watch out for low sign-up prices and hefty renewal costs. What you save today could cost you more tomorrow.
Just as with any service provider, researching feedback from other users can reveal what’s hidden from plain sight. Positive and negative reviews should be compared against what you need from a hosting provider.
Website hosting can be a confusing marketplace to navigate, so it’s important to understand what you need your website to do, and the internal resources available to manage it. This gives you a framework to go forward and find the right partner for your business. If you have any doubts, ask questions. A true partner will always take the time to explain what the solution is and how it will help your business grow.