Choosing a Website Host? Do Your Research First

As you launch or grow a business, you’ll have to spend some time thinking about your website and the infrastructure that supports it. And while a website hosting service may be largely invisible, it’s one of the single-most important factors in maintaining a strong and united online presence. But do you know how to choose the right website for your business?

5 Factors to Consider in a Website Host

A website is essentially a bunch of different files that are organized and stored in such a manner that people can access them online. A website host is a company that’s paid to “host” these files on their server. In other words, you’re paying a monthly or annual rental fee to use some of their server space.

In return for your hosting fee, you get access to things like security, maintenance, software updates, and customer support. Having said that, not all website hosts are created equal. Just like renting a motel room where there are significant differences in quality and amenities from one hotelier to the next, every website host has its own definition of what’s acceptable.

As you look for a website host, it’s important that you don’t just select the first one you run across. Rigorous due diligence will ensure you end up with the right host for your present and future needs. Here are a few factors to consider:

Reliability

The strength of your website server is key in the overall reliability of your website. An unstable connection could force your website offline, which directly impacts sales, conversion rates, and search engine rankings.

“Banking on a hosting company with reputable uptime scores, preferably above 99.5 percent is, therefore, key to your site’s success,” online marketing guru Zac Johnson writes. “Avoid companies that report an annual uptime score below 99 percent.”

Security

In today’s hostile cyber environment, security is an important element that can’t be ignored or compromised. A failure to select a hosting company with a strong security backbone could leave you exposed to unnecessary risks like isolated attacks or cross-site contamination.

As BrightStar Systems explains, “Cross-site contamination is the spread of malware over multiple shared hosting accounts. It happens when a site is negatively affected by neighboring sites within the same server because of poor isolation on the server or account configuration.”

A security-conscious website host will have systems and protocols in place to prevent the spread of malware and keep websites better protected.

Tech Support

Support isn’t something to take lightly. Whether you’re running an ecommerce website or simple business domain for an offline service company, reliable technical support is a must.

When a website goes down, it’s more than an inconvenience. If you aren’t careful, it can become an expensive problem that significantly hurts the future of your business. In fact, many businesses never survive an extended server failure.

Features

On the surface, most hosting companies look pretty similar. But when you dig into some of the specifics that set them apart, you’ll find that each vendor is different. As you compare and contrast potential suitors, think about the features and add-on capabilities.

On a related note, it’s important to think about scalability. You need a host that can effortlessly grow with your website (rather than hold it back). Having a future-oriented mindset will save you from a lot of trouble down the road.

Price

Whereas most people begin with price in mind, it’s not something to think about until after you’ve researched the other key aspects in the equation. Once you’ve considered reliability, security, tech support, and other features, you can think about pricing and what fits into your budget.

Cheap isn’t always best. In this industry, you tend to get what you pay for. Analyze price through the context of the features mentioned above and select one that blends quality and affordability.

Don’t Make a Rash Decision

There’s nothing fun about choosing a host. Most business owners would rather move on to creative aspects like website design, branding, and content creation. But resist the temptation to speed through the process, which could result in a premature decision that inhibits future growth. Take your time, do your research, and make a wise choice that’s rooted in objective evidence.

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