Search for a web hosting company online and you’ll find an array of options. There are large national hosting companies and small, specialized ones. Some offer a full array of extra services—such as website design and SEO help—and some offer few frills. And to make it all the more confusing, they come at a wide range of price points.
How do you wade through all your options and find one that is right for your business?
“It’s a very individual decision that depends on the specific needs and attributes of the business and its website,” says Steve Hammer, president of RankHammer, a Dallas digital marketing agency that, among other services, helps its clients identify a hosting service that fits their requirements. “Owners should do some research and understand all of their options to really find the one that’s best suited for them.”
Hammer suggests you consider these 5 things when selecting a web hosting service for your business:
1. Ease of use. Web hosting services come with various user interfaces. Some services provide a user-friendly experience, while others are designed for tech-savvy people that are comfortable using text-based commands. Consider who at your company will be responsible for managing the server. If it’s a tech pro—and you’re certain that won’t change—you might choose a hosting company with a less-intuitive interface, Hammer says. “But if there’s any likelihood that person could leave and someone else will have to manage it, look for an easy-to-use interface that anyone can figure out.” Spectrum Business web hosting services provide templates and DIY wizards to help you build a professional-looking web presence, along with a set of digital tools to help you promote and market your business.
2. Scalability. Do you think your website traffic will grow significantly in the next few years? If so, look for a hosting service that can accommodate your potential needs for more power and performance in the future. Cloud-based hosting firms are generally able to easily adjust to the growing needs of a company and increase bandwidth as needed, Hammer says.
3. Security. You can’t take website security lightly. While it can be hard to assess and compare the security measures web hosting companies use because they may follow different protocols, Hammer offers these pointers: Look for hosts that focus on strong security on their website and in their marketing materials. Also, do an online search to see if a hosting service has been compromised by hackers before—a possible indication that its security protocols are not strong enough and could be breached again.
4. Backup. What happens if your website crashes? Hopefully your hosting service has you covered. Backups can give you the capability to restore your website. How regularly you need to back up depends on how often you update your website. Companies that infrequently or rarely update their website may be fine with a weekly backup, while those making frequent changes may want to do daily or even hourly backups, Hammer says. Hosting services do not necessarily handle backups the same way: Some require you to do it manually, while others have built-in automatic backups. Because it’s not unusual for a small company to discover its website was compromised a couple weeks after the fact, Hammer suggests choosing a web hosting company that stores backup versions of a site for at least a few weeks.
5. Speed. Research shows people abandon websites that take more than a few seconds to load. So look for hosting that can offer high speed and performance. Cloud-based hosting providers and those with solid-state disk (SSD) hosting tend to provide the fastest processing, Hammer says. Realize, though, that more speed is often more expensive. So look for a hosting service that provides enough power for your site today and also allows you to “buy up” if you need greater speed and performance in the future. “It’s OK to be iterative if you have a scalable provider,” Hammer adds.
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