In the digital age, it is vital for a business to have a website. While design and SEO are very important aspects of building a web presence, I find that hosting is the foundation for success. When I am in the process of choosing a host, I make a list of requirements that align to the goals of the site in order to find the best match. The following points outline how to find quality business web hosting.
Determine Hosting Needs
My first step in the search for hosting is to determine the needs of the website. If I am launching a new business, inexpensive shared hosting is a good starting point. If the site is already established but has outgrown its current hosting account, I will look at a virtual private server (VPS) or semi-dedicated hosting, both of which are more robust. If a site needs extensive resources to support heavy traffic, apps, blogs and other interactive content, a dedicated or cloud server may be required. When I am not certain what will work best, I make a short list of hosts and contact the pre-sales team with my questions.
Test Support Systems
The pre-sales period is an excellent time to assess a host’s customer support. Aside from asking questions about my site’s needs, I also inquire about the server specs, data center and security that is being used to ensure my site will be in a safe environment. When the host replies, I note the speed of the response and the thoroughness of answering my questions. There is a large difference between a link to a knowledgebase article and a polite, personal message that makes me feel like I matter before I am even a customer. In addition, I make note of the methods of contact available. Most hosts offer a ticketing system and live chat, which is sufficient in most situations, but an enterprise level host should also have phone support at any hour every day of the year.
Research Uptime Performance
Business hosting is often mission critical, and I never want to experience downtime that may cost me money and customer goodwill. No web host can guarantee 100 percent uptime, but a solid business host should be in the 99.99 percent range. In terms of real time, the difference between 99.9 and 99.99 is vast. The first number allows for 43 minutes of downtime per month while the second allows for 43 minutes of downtime per year. When I am running a business site, I will always choose the better uptime performance even if it does cost more.
A brand new business site that has only a few pages and is drawing low to moderate traffic will run nicely on a quality shared host, and this is my first choice when working with a modest budget. Cost cannot always be the first consideration if the site will be large, complex and demanding, which requires a managed solution such as dedicated hosting. While I am paying more up front for a premium solution, I look at it as value added rather than cost. Lost customers and revenue due to downtime cannot be replaced. A managed host also frees up time for me to run the business instead of taking care of the website.
Allow Room to Grow
If a business catches on, its web traffic will grow and the site will need to scale. I prefer to work with a host that provides various levels of service, so I can start small and expand if necessary. It is always much easier to deal with a single host than to have to switch gears and find another provider later because the original hosting company could not scale the site. A hosting switch may present downtime in some cases, and this is always undesirable.
Check the Reputation
The web hosting world is a jungle, and it is crucial to make the correct choice because the business will depend on it. When looking at prospective hosts, I perform a background check to determine how long the company has been in business and what sort of reviews have been written about it from current and former customers. I also look into uptime percentage and see how many times per year the host performs routine maintenance. If there have been too many outages due to either host negligence or a poorly run datacenter, I move on to another name on my list. There are plenty of hosts that will go the extra mile to keep customers happy, and those are the companies I trust.
Finding the right business web hosting can seem intimidating. Following the tips of planning, research and not making a choice solely based on cost will ensure a good match and a very productive relationship.