For an online business to be successful, a good web hosting service is required. Nothing is worse than being unreachable because of server errors and other web hosting problems, especially since you are most likely competing with hundreds of other companies for the same market segment. This is part of the reasons why choosing a solid, highly reliable web hosting service is very important. If you are a small business owner and you want to find the best hosting plan to get, here are a few quick tips you can follow.
Don’t Settle for Reviews
I personally think reviews are great when it comes to web hosting services. They help you sort the good from the bad rather quickly. However, you should not make a purchase decision based on reviews alone, especially if you are looking for a reliable server for your business.
There are a few things you can do once you have read a lot of positive and negative reviews out there:
- Contact the web hosting company directly and ask for references. Choosing a web hosting service is no different than getting other services for your business; you can actually reach out and ask for past references. Get in touch with existing clients directly and ask about their experience with the hosting company.
- Take advantage of free trials and money back guarantees to help you test the actual service of the hosting company yourself. This is a good thing to do when you have a lot of time in your hand. You can set up your site and check its performance using various tools available online.
- There are services – also known as independent auditors – that monitor web hosting performance and uptime regularly. You can also check the hosting company’s raw uptime reports. With the hosting market being as competitive as it is today, companies such as Site5 are now making their uptime reports accessible.
Know Your Requirements
One of the best ways to save on web hosting is to pay only for the services and features you need. With small businesses, cost efficiency is really important. You can easily figure out your server requirements based on the kind of website you will be hosting. A static site or a WordPress blog, for example, doesn’t really require you to have a lot of storage. A fully-featured web application, on the other hand, may need more than just support for PHP and MySQL.
Once you list all of the requirements, you can start searching for the best hosting plans based on that list. Price aggregators and web hosting review sites can help you find the best plans to compare in a matter of seconds. You can even do an advanced search based on the features you need.
Location, Location, Location
The most neglected aspect of a web hosting service that small businesses don’t really pay attention to is server location. Your website can be as fast as it can be regardless of where it is being hosted, but placing it on a server close to your customers will give you that extra edge you need to succeed.
Server location also brings a lot of benefits:
- When the international internet exchange is down, for instance, your site will still be accessible by local customers when it is hosted on a server within the same country or region as them.
- Close proximity means faster and more reliable data delivery, resulting in a much faster load time and a hugely improved user experience. Keep in mind that your viewers expect your site to load in less than 10 seconds.
- Server location will also play an important role in your local SEO efforts. When you use a country-specific domain and a server located within the country, search engines will prioritize your site in local search results.
If you still want to serve customers around the globe, you can always add a content distribution network or CDN to your server configuration. Amazon, CloudFlare and many other service providers are offering fast CDNs at reasonable prices.
Prepare for Growth
Every small business owner would aim for rapid and sustainable growth; I’ve started a few business of my own and I really love those moments when you realize your businesses are growing. Your web hosting plan needs to have the ability to grow with you.
Before finalizing your purchase decision, learn more about scalability and upgrade options offered by the hosting service package of your choice. Make sure you can add more bandwidth, have more RAM or add optional features as they are needed. It is also important to know that these upgrades can be added to your account without too much problems.
A scalable hosting plan will be able to grow with your business, allowing you to keep the cost of running your site at an effective level while still having the options to upgrade at any time. Check upgrade costs and additional fees as well before signing up for an account.