So, you’re finally ready to make a website for your business and you’ve already picked a domain name (if not, here’s a free business domain name guide).
Or maybe you already have a website, but learned the hard way that the $5 a month website host might be fine for hobby bloggers, but not business websites like yours.
Choosing the wrong website host is expensive and time-consuming because it’s so painful to move your website. So let’s talk about the right way to pick a website host. Here are some factors to consider:
- Technical expertise
Let’s talk more about each one and how they relate to your business.
As a business owner, you can always make more money but you can never make more time. The time you waste struggling with your website is time away from your family and building your business. It might only be a few hours here and there, but it adds up quickly.
What’s your hourly rate? Even if you value it at only $50 an hour, if you waste 10 hours a month messing with your website you’re down $500 when you could’ve just paid someone $100 and had it done right. Time is money, especially in business.
This also ties into time, but how much maintenance is required to keep your site running well? Every website requires updates (especially software updates) of some kind. Depending on your hosting setup, either you’ll do these updates, your host will do them, or you’ll pay someone to do them for you.
As you move upstream to higher quality hosts you’ll get more of the maintenance done for you. Ideally, you want a host that does it all for you so you can focus on growing your business. You shouldn’t even have to think about it.
Most businesses underestimate website security, but 30,000 websites are hacked every day and most of them belong to small businesses! If a personal blog gets hacked, it’s not such a big deal. But if your business website gets hacked, you lose money.
Not only will getting hacked lower your customers’ trust in you, but it can also get your business website removed from the Google search results. If you don’t show up in search, then you don’t exist.
The security of your website depends on a number of factors, so hosts have different levels of security. Ask about the security measures a host has in place before trusting them with your website. As an example, see our security measures.
If your website is always down, nothing else matters. Find out how reliable your website host is before switching.
No website host can promise 100% server uptime, but 99.9% uptime is a reasonable expectation. 99.9% is what we and other high quality website hosts aim for.
When it comes to website load speed, every extra second it takes for your website to load costs you sales. In fact, speed is so important that Google made it a factor in their search engine rankings.
Search engine rankings are another performance metric. In addition to speed, how your website is built (structure) and marked-up (schema data and meta/html tags) determines how well you’ll rank in search results.
With the low-cost website hosts it’s up to you to make sure your site is set up properly for SEO. On the other hand, we and other high quality hosts do it all for you.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, doing all the above requires a certain level of technical expertise.
With lower priced website hosts you’re stuck doing most of this stuff yourself. If you enjoy it and don’t mind taking the time to keep up with it all, this might be perfect for you.
But if you prefer not to do it all yourself, consider a fully managed (full-service) website host like us (small businesses), Happy Tables (restaurants), or Shopify (online stores).
Features vary widely between website hosts based on whether it’s a fully managed host, or a low-cost, all-purpose website host. Here are some less common features and are especially useful to small businesses:
- Automatic software updates
- Content delivery network (CDN)
- Built-in server-side caching
- Hassle-free maintenance
- Security guarantee
- Daily website backups
- Business tool suite
Since we’re a fully managed host, all the above features are included in our hosting packages. Budget hosts don’t include these features so you’ll have to do it yourself or pay someone else to do it, but you’ll also pay less for your hosting.
There’s a perfect website host out there for every businesses, just decide which factors are most important to you. If you place a premium on quality and want it all done for you choose a fully managed website host. If price is you biggest concern, go with a low-cost host but make sure you keep your website updated.
Why It Matters
We often meet business owners on low-cost hosts who say they’ve never worried about these things and everything seems fine. They’re either unaware of the risks or they believe these things just happen automatically. Don’t end up like that.
This is why 30,000 websites (most belonging to small businesses) are hacked everyday. Of these hacked website, out of date software is by far the leading cause. It never seems to matter until your website is the one that gets hacked. But if your website isn’t secure, it’s only a matter of time.
Businesses with a neglected website will also never realize the true potential of their website to increase sales. A website is potentially the most cost-effective marketing tool a business has. But if it’s slow, unsecure, poorly designed, and doesn’t rank well in search engines then it won’t do much for your business.
To learn more about website hosting for small businesses, check out our free web hosting guide for businesses.