Web Hosting Is A Very Important Consideration
Hosting seems to be an afterthought for many people. Even websites often are afterthoughts for businesses. Many businesses just don’t know where to get started. You hear about one of the big box retailers offering hosting services, but you don’t really understand what the value is until you actually understand what you’re getting.
It is much easier for our clients to understand the value of what they’re actually getting, because we act as a resource for them and explain everything that is involved. That’s on one side, the other side is often the people that will call us because they’ve come to realize what the value is and what they’re not getting elsewhere.
Recently we came across a situation in which hosting has just been a major issue. We worked with a small eCommerce business to launch their new website. We explained the benefits of proper hosting, but the client did not see the value. They chose a “big box retailer”. It was amazing to see how fast the client realized that they made a mistake. Just hours after that decision, they had spent several hours on the phone with the technical support of that hosting service, and realized that, “Wow, maybe price wasn’t the only consideration that I should have thought of when choosing a hosting provider.”
Trust us, we’ve spent several hours on the phone with many of these hosting companies and it’s almost incredible what they know or what they don’t know and just the run around of whose responsibility it is. They blame it on the website. They blame it on the website developer, the website developer blames it on the hosting provider. And at the end of the day, the business has really nowhere to turn to.
So how do you get past that? We think it’s about understanding what you need, what you don’t need and being able to go from there.
Getting Real Support From Your Web Hosting Service
Real support. That’s really the point. When dealing with the big box retailers, we have found that no matter who you call, they sound very confident that they have the solution. But, in fact, the solution is probably correct maybe 25% of the time.
This is the case because how are they just going to answer, “Oh yeah, we can do it,” without knowing the requirements or where the business is or what is the scale? A business that’s putting up a landing page that has no traffic that just happened to be a landing page for a web presence versus an eCommerce business doing millions of dollars, they’re going to have very different needs. You can put your site on any of them, but at what cost?
Check out this blog post about why good web hosting is important.
Considerations Before Choosing A Web Hosting Company
Several things need to be considered before choosing a web hosting company. Let’s start with speed.
Your website can certainly be optimized, but it’s ultimately going to only be as good as the speed of the hosting. That is partially how the hosting is actually configured, what’s on the server and the type of hosting you have. Are you getting a shared space? Are you getting a dedicated server? Are you getting a cloud server? There’s a lot of things to consider. You take a look at the speed and you have to understand how fast are the processors? It’s no different than a computer. You’re putting your website on a server, on a computer. How fast is it? What are the requirements that you’re going to have?
If your site is video heavy, like a photographer or videographer for a wedding or you’re showcasing videos of projects you’ve done, you’re going to need something that can stream videos with some speed.
Uptime reliability is probably one of the most important factors because who cares about how fast your site is if your site goes down every couple of days? And if the site is down, how long is it down for? How many of your customers are going to go to the site? They’re going to see it’s down and move on.
A huge potential loss there.
And certainly if you’re hosting your own email, the uptime is going to be even more important. Support when your site does go down or your site does slow down is imperative. These are machines, hard drives crash, things happen, but who’s going to be there to answer? Are they going to give you the run around? Is it filing an email ticket when you don’t really know how to describe the problem? Understanding what you’re getting involved in and what you can expect is key.
You can go to a shared hosting company or a private hosting company. Okay, nothing wrong with that. Who’s involved? How big is the team? Are they able to service you? Are there service hours? Are there limitations to how many service requests you can place? At what point is the hosting company able to transition you into a bigger hosting plan as your business grows?
Just like anything else, if you get an office space and you outgrow it, somehow someone’s going to have to help you get into a bigger office, transition whether you’re moving warehouses or you’re moving operations, IT. It’s no different with your web hosting. You can start off on a small plan, but as your business grows, as your traffic increases, chances are you will need a larger hosting plan.
We are certainly not advocating overpaying for hosting services. But the lure of the $2.79 monthly hosting plan, what do you expect to get from that? If you have a one-page landing page and don’t care if it takes eight seconds to load, great. But for any business with traffic, with money on the line, is a few dollars in price worth the time and headache and potential loss from the issues that we’ve discussed thus far? The answer is absolutely not.
Your SEO that could potentially be impacted if your site is on a server with other sites that have malicious code or have been hacked or haven’t been maintained. You have no control over it. They’re basically giving you a small little piece of the pie saying, “This is your real estate.” Think of it like an apartment inside of an apartment complex. This is your unit. And you can’t do anything about the other people that are in there, but this is your unit, No matter how much your neighbors misbehave!
We like the analogy of real estate. Often times people will spend time, money, energy resource, et cetera on building a great website and then just totally not consider the hosting. It’s like not maintaining your property after you buy it. It’s like putting the worst quality fuel into the car that you possibly can. There’s so many analogies that we can give, but we think that it’s something that should not be overlooked and it’s something that really should be considered properly.
Difficulties with Managed WordPress Hosting
The issues progress further when choosing “Managed WordPress Hosting” services. If you need to have a developer put something into the back-end of your website, who’s going to be able to provide access to that? Certainly, in managed hosting plans your back-end is seriously restricted and you will quickly find that, oh, now changes can’t be done. Now what? Now you’ve got to start moving your site to another hosting plan and maybe you’ve already paid for it. It really can be problematic.
Potential Downfalls of Choosing A Small Hosting Company
Let’s talk about potential downfalls from hosting with a very small firm, because there are downfalls.
- What happens if that company goes out of business? Big issue.
- What happens if they don’t pay their bills and they decide that they don’t want to be in the web development or web hosting service anymore? You’ve got a big problem. (We’ve taken over management of many of these situations)
We’ve picked up hosting services on a number of these websites because people flippantly decided that they don’t want to be in the business anymore. You need to ensure that;
- You have access
- Have a full backup. Hedging yourself against potential losses would be a very good idea, such as having a full backup of the site on some routine
- Have access to cPanel
These items will certainly help bridge a gap if you have to switch hosting companies. But if your site’s hosted and a server crashes, who’s going to go out there and swap it out? Someone has to do it. If you’re at some small mom and pop hosting company that can’t service their own servers or don’t control the servers, where are you going to turn to? You’ll take your backup and you’ll have your downtime for however long and you’ll mosey on.
And that’s at best case, if you have the backup. We can imagine a scenario of the site going down and worst case, you’re starting from nothing, which is obviously a nightmare.
Having a CDN
If you’re doing international business and you’re selling globally, you want to make sure that your data is spread out throughout the country and globally in the markets that matter most for your business to ensure that you can deliver your website and your transactions in real speed.
Domain Name Ownership
It seems very elementary, but make sure that you are the owner of your domain name. We’ve seen too many situations of too trusting of people. They allow the web person to buy the domain name in their own account. Things go sideways. They don’t own the domain name. They don’t have access to the hosting. It becomes a complete nightmare. So be very cautious with that.
Oftentimes you’ll see companies try to bundle in, get a domain name, get hosting, get a website. They give it to you at a monthly rate. That way you’re always paying. You’re only renting. So whenever you say, “I want to stop paying for you,” okay, now you walk away from your website. You’ve paid all this and now you have nothing.
When all things are working correctly, it doesn’t matter. The $8 hosting is fantastic until something goes wrong. And that is where things are really important. So we just can’t stress enough, don’t be shortsighted. Don’t spend too much time worrying about a few dollars of difference if it comes to a service. Is the company reputable? Are they going to fulfill what they’ve told you they’re going to fulfill? And that’s what is really important.
Maintaining Your Website
So the actual service of the hosting itself is only a part of the equation. The other part is who’s overseeing it? And then who will jump in and who will fix it when there is an issue?
It’s really just understanding what you’re getting involved with. There’s so many options out there. With a little bit of basic research, most people can see the terms and see what’s important and at least have an idea of what’s being offered.
Ask about the following before engaging a web hosting service:
- Uptime guarantees
- Support guarantees
- Type of server
- Type of environment you’re getting
- Where the locations of the servers are
- What type of access you’re entitled to
- Backup to storage and then how often are they ran?
We have to marry the hosting service itself together with the actual maintenance of the website, which is the updating of the plugins, updating of the WordPress core files, et cetera. It all comes together as one, as a cohesive plan and strategy for maintaining your website, according to best practices on an ongoing basis.