Web hosting is a service provided by businesses that maintain, configure, and run physical servers that support websites. A web hosting provider should be able to maintain and keep their servers running 24/7 so your website continues to perform at peak levels at all times. This can go a long way in maximizing website sales and improving user experience. Here are a few undeniable reasons why web hosting services are important for businesses.
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Improved Site Performance
In the web hosting world, site performance is based on several key factors, including site speed, security, and website uptime. Together, these factors determine the user experience on your website. If your website is slow to load, not encrypted, or frequently down, visitors will abandon your site. Plus, Google and other search engines will penalize your website in their rankings. Different web hosting providers and web hosting platforms will affect your site’s performance.
Shorter Server Response Time
Server response time is the time it takes for a web server to respond to a request. It’s what determines how long visitors have to wait for your website to provide them information, whether it’s loading a new page, downloading a file, or rendering an image. When your web hosting provider delivers fast server response times, your website works lightning-fast. But if it has slow response times, visitors may have to wait awhile for the information they request. In many cases, instead of waiting, they’ll abandon your site altogether.
Optimized Website Speed
Did you know that the average consumer will wait just two seconds for a website to load before they hit the back button in search of better options? If your website is slow, you are missing out on potential leads. Your web hosting provider determines your site’s speed. Shared server services are cheap, but because these servers host multiple sites, they are likely to provide slow site speeds. If you invest in web hosting on a dedicated server, then your site is the only website hosted on your server. This can optimize website speeds, especially if you typically get more than a thousand visitors per month to your site.
Not all web hosting providers offer the same security measures. At Watermark Web Design, we recommend all of our clients purchase an SSL certificate for their websites. This is a piece of code your web hosting provider can add to your website to encrypt the connection between your website and visitor networks. Without an SSL certificate, your website is vulnerable to hacks and other cyber attacks. Another reason to opt for SSL? Google down ranks sites without it.
Most companies use domain-related emails to conduct business. Domain-related emails help build credibility with the public, as your emails come from an address that matches your website rather than a random Gmail or Yahoo account. Most web hosting providers offer email services with their hosting products. Companies can choose the number of emails they need as well as the amount of storage they need for their inboxes.
Ample Data Storage
Your website requires data storage space to operate optimally. All of those image files, PDFs, emails, and other media need to live somewhere. Web hosting providers roll data storage into their web hosting services. It’s up to you to decide how much storage you’ll need for your website.
Quality Customer Service
No web hosting provider is perfect, but what separates a good provider from an excellent one is how they respond to customer issues, such as service interruptions, downtime, and other digital emergencies. Are you able to talk with a human through live chat or on the phone, or are you forced to comb through the company’s help pages to find what you need? Quality customer service can make or break your experience with your web hosting provider.
Now that we’ve established the importance of having a web hosting provider to manage your website, here are a few tips on how to choose the service provider that’s right for you.
Consider Your Storage Needs
Is your website a single page or a behemoth with hundreds of pages? Are you a solopreneur or employer of hundreds? How many images and files are included on your website? The answers to all of these questions will help you decide what your storage needs are. If you work on your own and operate a one-page site with a couple of images, your storage needs are slim. However, if you maintain a large website with hundreds of images and multiple employees, you’ll need to invest in ample storage from your web hosting provider.
Get the Highest Possible Uptime
When you’re shopping for a web hosting provider, be sure to compare their average uptimes. Uptime is the time website servers are up and running. The opposite of uptime is downtime, when servers are not running–and neither are the websites they host. While all web hosting providers experience downtime from time to time, you’ll want to look for a host with an impressive uptime percentage and backup contingencies to keep sites up when servers are down.
Will the Platform Allow You to Scale?
If you’re growing your company, you don’t want to stifle that growth by choosing a web hosting service that can’t grow with you. If you have to purchase the top tier of services to adequately host your site, find a different host provider. The last thing that should stand as a barrier to your success is your web hosting platform.
Do They Offer Fast Loading Speed?
We’ve discussed how important load speed is to your site’s performance and its search engine rankings. That’s why fast loading speed should be one of your top priorities when you’re searching for a web hosting provider. Do a little research online to discover if a provider is offering fast load speeds or if the sites they host are getting left in the dust.
How Much Bandwidth Do You Need?
Bandwidth measures the amount of data your site uses within a specific period of time. Large sites with lots of data and lots of visitors will need more bandwidth to stay up and running. Small or new sites with a few images or PDFs and few visitors will need less. It’s up to you to determine how much bandwidth you’ll need to purchase from your web hosting provider.
Inquire about the Monthly Traffic Limit, If Any
Some web hosting providers throttle monthly traffic to a website once the site hits a monthly traffic limit. Not all providers limit traffic, and those that do have different policies. Be sure to investigate potential providers to determine their monthly traffic limits, if any.
Data Security Is a Huge Consideration
Cybersecurity is the biggest threat to businesses with websites. Small businesses are frequent targets of attacks, but most don’t treat this threat with the seriousness it deserves. Data security for your website starts (but doesn’t end) with your web hosting provider. First, check out how they secure their own systems and platforms. If the web hosting provider does not protect its own data, there is no way it can help you protect your data. Once you’re satisfied the company has good cybersecurity measures in place, be sure to take advantage of the cybersecurity features the provider offers, including that important SSL certificate.
Does the Platform Adhere to PCI Compliance?
PCI compliance helps ensure any eCommerce that occurs on your website is protected. Without it, Visa, Master Card, American Express, and other credit card companies may suspend payments on your website. If you plan to host an online store on your website, you need to make sure your web hosting provider is PCI compliant.
Be Clear on the Pricing
Monthly subscriptions, annual plans, add-ons . . . it can be tough to understand exactly what you’ll spend on your web hosting services, and tougher still to compare plans. We suggest determining the scope of services you’ll need before you start to shop. Decide if you want to use a shared server or dedicated server, how many emails you need, how much storage you require, and any other extras you’ll want. Then, price out these options on several different hosting sites. This will give you a clearer picture of how the different hosting companies compare and find the best option for you.
What Level of Customer Support Can You Expect?
Before we wrap up this guide, we want to reiterate how important customer service is to your web hosting experience. When web hosting is working properly, you don’t even think about it. But when things go wrong, you want to make sure that you can access the resources you need to get your website up and running again. If that’s email or online support, great! If you want to talk to a human, be sure your provider offers that level of help.
Choosing a web hosting provider is important, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Working with an experienced web designer on your new or updated website can help. Watermark Web Design and other reputable designers can recommend web hosting services that work well for our clients. Watermark offers local web hosting to our clients starting at just $20 per month. Get in touch with our team today to discover your options.