Creating a new website involves a lot of technical decisions. For starters, you will have to choose a design for the website and decide what kinds of functionality it should include. When the site is ready to roll out, you will have to choose a web hosting provider that will be responsible for storing your website and making it available online.
Choosing a web hosting provider is one of the most important decisions you will make when creating a website. This is because the quality of your web host will determine the speed, security, and overall reliability of your site. Choosing the wrong host can lead to your website performing poorly, resulting in a loss of customers. Even worse, a website running on a low-quality web host may be more vulnerable to hackers and will suffer in search engine rankings as a result.
This article will share 10 key components to look for in your next web hosting provider. These simple tips will help you find an excellent provider with a service that’s secure, reliable, and fast.
The Importance of Choosing a Great Web Host
Forbes magazine columnist James Lynn suggests that more than 30,000 websites are hacked every day. Cybercriminals hack websites to steal sensitive information such as credit card details or to insert malicious code into the site – said malicious code also has the potential to infect the computers of the visitors to your pages.
The cost of having your website hacked can be extremely high. If the hackers insert malicious code, you may lose customers or be blacklisted by search engines. If they steal your customer’s data, your business may even be liable and you could find yourself the subject of legal action.
Using a high-quality web hosting provider will reduce the risk of a security breach. They will have excellent security procedures in place, well-trained staff, and state-of-the-art technology. Good web hosting providers will also have exceptional backup services in place — so you will always have a backup copy of your website and it’s data, should something go seriously wrong.
Internet users have become accustomed to high-speed data connections and websites that load quickly. If your site is loading slowly, you will see an increase in page abandonment, where users close the browser window before the page they’re trying to access fully loads.
Having users abandon your website results in a loss of traffic and conversions — dramatically impacting the profitability of your site. Take a look at this infographic from Kissmetrics to see how much page load time can affect your website.
Slow loading websites will also perform worse in search engine rankings. This is because most major search engines now use page load speed as a ranking factor.
A high-quality web host will be well-located and have high-speed fibre connections from their data centre. Pages will load quickly, reducing or eliminating the number of users that abandon your page due to slow page load speed.
The stability of your web hosting provider refers to how often the servers are rendering your website correctly. A high-quality web host will be able to successfully server your site at least 99.99% of the time. Some web hosts will go for years with 100% uptime on their servers, meaning your website will always be available.
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Having your website go down can be very frustrating for customers. When faced with malfunctioning pages, they will often turn to one of your competitors immediately – this can result in the permanent loss of a customer. Downtime can also negatively impact your search engine rankings.
10 Key Components to Look for When Choosing a Web Host
Here are the top 10 key components to look for when comparing web hosts:
#1 — They must have a great reputation
The reputation of a company is a good indicator for the quality of services that they provide. After all, if other consumers publicly vouch for a business, it must be delivering an excellent service. It’s easy to check the reputation of a prospective web hosting company:
Visit web hosting forums and ask for other people’s opinions
There are many discussion forums that offer a platform for users to discuss the performance of different web hosting providers. One of the best online forums is Web Hosting Talk, where you can ask other forum users for hosting provider recommendations or ask them about a specific company.
Visit the company’s website
Successful web hosting providers often list the names of some of their larger clients. If you discover that the provider hosts some prestigious companies, then they must have an excellent reputation for reliability, speed, and security.
Ask your business associations
If you have relationships with other businesses or entrepreneurs, ask them if they have heard of the web hosting providers you are considering.
Look on social media
You can search Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media platforms for references to the providers you are considering.
Ask an expert
If you know someone who works in the information technology sector, then it may be worth asking them for their opinion on different web hosting providers.
You can also use web hosting review websites to find more testimonies to the best providers. However, it’s important to remember that many of these sites have financial arrangements with hosting companies – their reviews may not always be impartial!
#2 — Excellent customer support
Having access to excellent customer support is essential because websites often run into technical issues that need to be solved very quickly. Check that the company has multiple support options available – including a help desk, knowledge base, social media accounts, dedicated support email address, and phone contacts. Also, find out how often the support services are staffed. Will help be on-hand if your server suddenly becomes unresponsive at 3 o’clock in the morning?
#3 — Compatibility with your website
The web hosting provider must provide servers with the features that your website requires. For example, you may require support for a specific programming language, or to have a particular version of an application installed. Your web development team will be able to give you a list of technical requirements of your website.
#4 — Uptime guarantees
A reputable host will guarantee a certain amount of uptime for their servers. The industry standard is a 99.99% uptime guarantee. Some reputable service providers will offer you significant discounts if their service fails to reach this threshold.
#5 — Value for money
Many business owners place a significant emphasis on the value for money that a product offers. However, when it comes to web hosting providers, cost shouldn’t be the sole factor in your choice. Look for a company that promises excellent value-for-money, but make sure it also ticks the other boxes — security, reliability, and speed.
#6 — Area of speciality
Many web hosting providers specialise in niche markets. For example, you will find some hosting providers who only offer large-scale enterprise solutions for big businesses. They might have expensive packages with a strong focus on security and uptime. Others might specialise in providing value-for-money solutions for small businesses.
#7 — Server hardware
The type of hardware used by the web hosting provider will play a role in determining how fast and reliable your website will be. If you’re expecting many users to visit your site simultaneously, make sure that your server has an adequate amount of RAM and a fast CPU. If you’re using cloud-based services, make sure they have the capacity to allow you to scale up quickly.
#8 – Data backup services
Backing up your website’s data on a regular basis is an integral part of website security. Some web hosting providers will offer data backup services, where they store your data in another location. The cost and protection provided by these services can vary greatly, so compare what each provider is offering.
#9 — Security features
Security is a critical aspect of running a business website. Your server should have anti-malware and anti-virus software installed and regularly updated. It should also have both a software and hardware firewall to prevent denial of service attacks and attacks from spambots. Some providers will offer more advanced security capabilities with additional services and expert assistance.
#10 — Speed
As mentioned previously, the speed of your website will play a role in determining how successful it will be. If your website loads slowly, many visitors will opt-out before they even view a single page. Look for a web host that is well-located geographically and has a high-speed fibre connection.