Having a new website built is a big, yet worthy investment for your business. You may have made this decision to perhaps improve your online visibility and performance, increase inquiries, portray a more up to date look and feel, improve functionality or user experience – or all of the above. Having made this investment, it is important that your hosting provider can help you meet these objectives instead of causing you problems.
Your website acts as a hub for all marketing communications and your company’s brochure. Therefore having made this big investment, why would you choose to host your website with a provider that is not going to allow your website to perform to its best abilities? You wouldn’t buy a brand new iPhone and then choose a network that gives you poor signal, would you? It is really the same principle, just on a much larger (and pricier) scale!
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is the space, or storage of your website and is what is needed in order for your website to function on the internet.
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If you want to have a live website then you have to have it hosted somewhere, there is no choice in that. However, you do have a choice in who your hosting provider is and this is a choice that you should consider carefully as the quality of the hosting provider and server that you use will have a significant impact on the performance of your website.
When shopping for a website hosting provider, here are some things that you really should consider:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Site speed is a crucial element in which major search engines such as Google look for. If a website is taking a long time to load and is slow to run, then Google will rank this website lower than other sites which are performing faster. This can be very damaging from an SEO perspective, which can be difficult to recover from.
If your new website has been built well, then optimisation for speed will have been taken into consideration from the offset, for example, ensuring that images are compressed and there is not too much video content hosted on site (using hosted sites such as YouTube and Vimeo can help with this) – but all of this good work can be undone without the appropriate server.
You should make sure that your hosting provider can offer you server space that is equipped to deal with a site of your size and also the amount of traffic that is expected to be visiting daily.
Reliability and Speed for Mobile Use
The majority of web users will now be browsing on their mobile phone or tablet as opposed to a desktop and so you already have the obstacle of mobile networks and WiFi potentially being slow. To add a slow loading website to this equation will only make matters worse. Users will find a slow website cumbersome to use and will leave if they are not able to find what they are looking for quickly and efficiently.
A low budget hosting provider will have more vulnerable servers than those which are carefully monitored and maintained. You may have heard of websites that have been hacked – amongst other reasons, a large contributing factor in this situation is when a server is not secure.
You may also experience downtime where your site is not available at all at very busy times as there are so many other sites sharing your server space.
This is avoidable and can save a lot of unnecessary problems simply by choosing a hosting provider that is able to keep your software up to date and monitored.
Things to Consider with Web Hosting, Shared or Dedicated?
It may be that you will require a dedicated server to cater for your traffic and activity, this will be a higher cost but is necessary if you have a busy site. E-commerce sites that take a lot of transactions, in particular, should look into a dedicated server. You should be able to start on a shared server and then migrate to a dedicated server, should you see traffic increasing.
Use a provider that is credible and well-known, if you’re not sure, your website developer will be able to advise.
Is it included? Or do you need to maintain the site yourself? Most people do not have the time, resource or indeed knowledge to be able to back up their site and keep it updated. Your hosting provider should do this for you as well as updated versions of your CMS and the plug-ins within it. This will all aid to the security of your site as well – an up to date website is much less likely to be subjected to hacking or performance issues.
Do not make this your deciding factor, otherwise all of the above will not be considered as priorities, if at all. There are several hosting providers who can offer very cheap hosting deals, but these are cheap for a reason and you will not get the performance from your site that it is capable of.