All Web Hosting is the Same! Right?
As the owner of a website, you know that hosting is a necessity of life. But hosting is hosting. The cheaper the better. Just turn it on and walk away. Right?
Not so fast! Web hosting is actually a really important piece of your online activities. Many small businesses don’t realize just how important hosting is to the overall success of your site and your business. Of course you expect your web host to have your site available to all the traffic that chooses to visit, but can you depend on them to optimize your site so your pages load super fast? Does your current host have security measures in place so your site is less likely to get hacked? How about backups and maintenance? Does your host perform all the necessary tasks to keep your website and data protected and up-to-date? And what happens if your site does get hacked? Who is responsible for fixing it?
Choosing the best WordPress hosting can be confusing and frustrating. There are tons of web hosts out there all flashing prices from $3.99 to hundreds of dollars a month, with a variety of features. How do you determine the hosting features you really need as a small business and which hosting company is the best one to deal with? Let’s start with understanding the different types of hosting that are available.
Types of Web Hosting for Small Business
The pros and cons of different types of hosting that you can consider.
You get what you pay for.
Pros: It’s free. That’s definitely a pro. Everyone likes free.
Cons: It’s free. Let’s remember, you get what you pay for. Nowhere in business is that more true than with web hosting. You’re not going to get premium hardware or resources without paying for them. Although free hosting doesn’t have a monthly monetary cost, it can be costly to your business in potential down time and problem resolution. Who do you call when you have a problem? Free probably isn’t going to have the best customer service, so keep that in mind. Free hosting also tends to have a text link or banner advertising program for other companies as part of the deal, which isn’t going to look to professional on your small business website.
If you want anyone online to take you seriously, free hosting is not going to be an option for a small business.
If you don’t know what kind of hosting you currently have, it’s probably shared.
Pros: Other than free, shared hosting is the cheapest form of hosting. You’ll see shared hosting advertised from as little as $2 or $3 a month to $10. If you’re paying anything south of $10 a month for hosting, it’s probably shared hosting.
Cons: In a shared hosting environment, hundreds or thousands of websites are put on the same server. This situation can create a huge server load, which can slow down all the websites and limit all the resources. If one of those other websites on your server gets hacked, this can have a negative impact on the overall performance of any other site hosted on the same server, including yours. If you’re running a WordPress website and the server your site is housed on isn’t optimized for WordPress, your site is not going to run as efficiently as it could elsewhere.
Shared hosting is not for any small business website that gets more than a couple of visitors a day.
Hosting in the cloud.
VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. This is a method of partitioning a physical server into multiple servers.
Pros: In a VPS, your host partitions off a portion of that server just for your website. Even though there can be many other websites on the VPS server, you’ll have as much control as if you were on a dedicated server, all by yourself. The majority of VPS hosting is in the cloud. Multiple servers work together, so a hardware failure of a single server won’t bring your website down. If a single server fails, another server in the cloud takes over the work. This is yet another added layer of protection for your site.
Cons: VPS hosting is more expensive than shared hosting. Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $100 a month, depending on the traffic volume of your website and what kind of additional features come with the service.
VPS hosting is by far, the safest, most reliable hosting for the money and is highly recommended to small businesses.
Probably overkill for most small business websites.
Pros: A dedicated server is just that. A server that is for your website only. You’re not sharing your hardware with anyone else. You get to control every aspect of the server and how it runs.
Cons: A major consideration with dedicated servers is who is going to manage the setup, updates, and maintenance. Most hosting providers are only providing the server hardware. It will be up to you to configure it and optimize it for speed and delivery. Dedicated hosting is definitely the most expensive form of hosting, ranging anywhere from $150 to $375 a month or more.
Dedicated Servers are more than most small businesses need.
The worry-free type of hosting.
After all the time and money you spent developing your website, the last thing you need is someone inexperienced in maintenance and upkeep managing it. Even if that’s you!
Pros: Providers of managed hosting take care of everything for you. From your website’s performance to security, from updates to backups, someone else is doing all the work. Most managed hosting environments are going to be in a VPS hosting environment.
Cons: Expect to pay more for managed hosting than for shared and some VPS hosting. On average, managed hosting runs from $29 to $99 a month or more, depending on features and services. One negative about managed hosting is the fact you are putting your trust in a single company. Ask questions if you have any.
If your business depends on your website and you don’t have an experienced employee in-house that can handle the upkeep, this is a cost of doing business that small business really can’t live without.
Managed WordPress Hosting
The best choice for companies running a WordPress website.
Pros: Managed WordPress hosting comes from companies that specialize in the offering servers that are optimized to run just WordPress websites. This is really the optimal level of support for a company with a WordPress website. As in managed hosting, someone else does all the maintenance, security checks, and backups, for you, plus they also update WordPress.
Cons: Not all managed WordPress hosting is the same, so read the fine print. Some companies only offer WordPress hosting, so if you need email you’re on your own. Managed WordPress hosting is more expensive than shared hosting. Expect to pay between $15 and $99 or more per month, depending on traffic volume of your website and features offered.
Managed WordPress Hosting is the best hosting you can choose if you’re running a WordPress website.
The Best WordPress Hosting Isn’t Just About Your Site Being Available to Visitors
There are other important considerations that you need to take into account when choosing small business web hosting.
Web hosting isn’t just about making sure your site is up and ready to receive traffic 24/7. It’s also about protecting the investment you’ve made in developing your site and making sure that you provide a safe and efficient experience for your visitors. Keeping your website up and in tip to shape includes security, backups, monitoring, speed, and maintenance. Let’s briefly look at each area and discuss what you need to consider.
In September of 2013, Forbes.com reported that 30,000 web sites get hacked every day. Many small business owners mistakenly think that because they aren’t a huge conglomerate or government agency, that cyber criminals wouldn’t be interested in targeting their website. Unfortunately, the 30,000 plus websites a day that are getting hacked are predominately, legitimate small businesses.
From phishing schemes to personal identity theft, there are numerous reasons why hackers hack. But it’s important to note that your site doesn’t have to be an e-commerce site to be at risk. It’s important to check with your web host about what measure they have in place to keep your website safe. The best WordPress hosting providers will have security in place to help against hackers.
Do you backup your small business website on a regular basis? The answer should be yes, but unfortunately, a large number of small business owners don’t regularly backup their website. Files accidently get deleted, hardware hiccups and fails, and with the possibility of hackers and malware, you never know when you would be in a situation where you would need to do an emergency restoration of your entire website.
Regular backups should be done daily or weekly depending on how often you change information on your site. If you site has a shopping cart, the backups should be done even more frequently. The best WordPress hosting will back up your website files for you and store them on a server other than where your website is located.
You don’t want your web visitors to be the first ones to know if your website has a problem. Down time is embarrassing and costly. Your web host should have monitoring your website for problems, viruses, and hacks as part of their service. The best WordPress hosting will monitor your website and be able to react quickly if any problems occur.
You wouldn’t operate your car for years and years without ever changing the oil. A car has regular maintenance that is required to keep it in top operating shape. The same can be said for your small business website. There are maintenance tasks that need to be performed on a regular basis to keep your site operating efficiently and safely.
5 Key Tasks in Website Maintenance:
- Update your software
- Update your WordPress plugins
- Perform regular backups
- Monitor Google Search Console for errors and problems
- Keep domain registration up to date
According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and tend to abandon sites that don’t load within 3 seconds. A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. To put that into perspective, a site that generates $10,000 a day with a 1 second page delay, could potentially be costing it’s owners $250,000 a year in lost sales. Web shoppers don’t like web site performance problems. In addition, Google has made page load speed one of the over 200 different signals that affect search rank.
The best WordPress hosting will have your site on a server that has been optimized for WordPress, providing your web visitors with fast loading pages and a premium browsing experience.
Choosing the Best WordPress Hosting
Hosting can be a positive experience.
Now you’re armed with the information you need to go out and track down the best WordPress hosting for your small business. You know what to look for and what to avoid in your search. Remember, cheaper is not all better, especially in the hosting world. You want reliability, speed, and great customer service. Do your homework, ask questions, and you’ll be able to pick the best small business web hosting for your company.
For more details about web hosting and how to pick the right host for your business website, download our free ebook, “How to Find the Best WordPress Hosting for Small Business.”