Web hosting is an invaluable service every business owner needs to think about and incorporate in his business decisions. This is because every business and organization worth its salt needs to have an online presence through a website where it displays its products and services as well as other pertinent information. The success of your business online depends to a great extent on the type of web hosting plan as well as the hosting provider.
As opposed to other business decisions where pricing plays a pivotal role, web hosting brings on board many more variables which you have to consider in addition to your budget. The best approach to getting a reliable web hosting service is to have a checklist detailing all the factors to be considered. The discussion below will help you determine the suitable host for your website.
The success of your business online depends to a great extent on the type of web hosting plan as well as the hosting provider.
Establishing Your Hosting Needs
You can only get a suitable web hosting service when you fully understand what you are looking for. You must go through each element of your business and website to document your requirements. These will act as your guidelines in analyzing the various web hosting service providers and the plans available. Establish the kind of website you are building, any special software you may need and your projected traffic volume.
You should also have a website plan that helps you figure out what happens to your business both in the short and long term. This is critical because choosing the wrong plan may jeopardize your business operations and affect the attractiveness of your website.
Determining the Server Location for Your Website
After assessing your needs, you should also deliberate on the location where your website will be hosted. You could be in the UK, but you want your business to be hosted in the U.S because your target market is in the United States. Where your target audience and your hosting location are different, cases of delayed load times will be common and this may drastically affect your business performance. For search engine visibility, the location of your web host should reflect the geographical location of your business. Beware of web host providers who entice you with cheaper hosting options only to transfer your website to servers located on other countries.
Server Uptime Record
The essence of having a website is to enhance the reach and visibility of your business. By design, a website is meant to be operational on a 24/7 basis so as to maximize on every opportunity that your brick-and-mortar store cannot. To achieve this, you need a reliable web host with a powerful server as well as stable network connections. Before settling for a hosting provider, do some background research and look at the reviews on what previous and current customers are saying concerning the provider. A server uptime score of 99.5% and above is commendable while anything below 99% is out if question. You can use server monitoring tools to track your web host performance.
The Available Server Backup Options
Understanding how your web host deals with server faults is very important and reassuring. This is because every system including servers is bound to fail at one point or the other. However, such failure should not mean a loss to your website content and resources. Many web host providers have backup serves and sites located in different parts of the world to safeguard your business websites against malicious or accidental server destruction.
Where your hosting provider has limited backup strategies, you may have to arrange for your own private backup options.
Website’s Load Time
The time it takes for a website to load has an implication of whether your site visitors will remain or bounce off. On average, site traffic can wait for about 4 seconds for a website to load beyond which they will go to the next available option. This creates a bounce rate which in turn gives a negative ranking signal to search engines.
At a glance, you may not be able to tell how fast or slow websites hosted on a particular server load. The best way to find this out is to ask the provider to give you a number of clients hosted on each of his plans so that you can load their websites and get firsthand experience of the load speed. The rule of thumb is the less you pay for your hosting, the more likely that you will be placed on crowded servers. Also, analyze how the complexity of your website will affect the load time.
The Technical Support
Whether you have an in-house technical team, you cannot wish away the customized support from your web host provider. Technical glitches may occur which require the attention of your hosting provider. Find out their support platforms and hours of operation. Do not take it for granted that you will get assistance whenever you need it. Some providers take time before responding while others operate only on limited times. Look out for email support, telephone support as well as web chat.
Server Upgrade Option
As your business grows and expands, your website activity is also bound to increase. This means high traffic volumes and more downloads and uploads of files. Depending on your hosting plan, you may find that such activity drains your server space making your website slow. To avoid such embarrassing and inconveniencing instances, you need to find out how flexible your hosting plan is when it comes to upgrading. Some providers will charge you a small fee to take you from one plan to another while some may complicate the upgrade process making you pay for a new plan as if you are a new customer.
It is important you find out beforehand the procedures and cost implications of upgrading from say a shared hosting to a dedicated server or VPS.
In addition to the above factors, the initial cost you pay to have your hosting plan operational, the renewal price and hosting suspension policy should also be considered. Some web hosts have added features such as SEO tools, site performance and analytical tools which you will find useful in managing your website.