Let’s face it, very few of us like to think about Website Hosting. It’s kind of boring and probably the last of your considerations when you’re busy starting a new website. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret… if I’d had the following list when I started my first website, I would have saved a lot of wasted time, headaches and money. So if you’re currently looking for a website host it’s your lucky day – grab yourself a coffee and keep reading!
To start with, here are two mistakes made by rookies. Avoid these like the plague.
Mistake #1 – “Myopia”
Don’t sign up for hosting based on your current websites needs with no consideration for the big picture. When you’re starting out, a low-cost overseas hosting plan may seem ideal until the website needs increase and the growing pains commence. Website owners can waste hours of precious time dealing with support teams and suffer from an under-performing website before finally moving to a more suitable host. Take a strategic approach and consider your future needs. What will your requirements be once your website is humming along in 5th gear?
Mistake #2 – “Price Warrior”
An over-zealous obsession with price will not be good for your websites health. Of course, price needs to be a consideration when choosing a web host; however, it should be part of a set of criteria, not the overriding focus.
Now let’s focus on what you should consider in your decision making process. It won’t take you long to run through all this list and in doing so, you’re much more likely to get a hosting partner that suits your long term needs right from the start.
#1 Investigate the website host’s servers
If your website visitors will predominantly be Australian, you’ll do well to use a host that has servers based in Australia. The key reason for this is a faster page load which both your visitors and the Search Engines love. If you’re technically minded, enquire about additional factors such as Data Center security, redundancy, and the quality of the infrastructure utilised.
#2 Review their support
The Support offering is a HUGE consideration. At some point, you’re going to need it. Some support teams will make your life easy, others will drive you to an early grave. For example, an IP block is a relatively common problem for website owners which blocks them from accessing their website. It will take an experienced support team member less than a minute to fix. Try to imagine the frustration when the support team is on the other side of the world and can’t be contacted because their office is closed due to time differences or public holidays.
You should also ask questions like, what are the support hours? How can support be contacted? What does the web host support and what is billable? Is the support team locally based? If a Support Policy is available it’s well worth reading.
#3 Investigate Hidden Costs
The advertised hosting price is often just a starting point. Additional services such as setup, backups, server management, spam protection, SSL Certificates, email accounts, addon domains, website transfers and even Customer Support may incur extra fees. Ask for a list of additional costs that may be incurred. Many a website owner has chosen a web host because it was $1 or $2/month cheaper, only to be stung with extra costs that far outweighed the initial saving.
#4 Consider your website requirements
Do you have a blog, CMS website, eCommerce store, forum, directory or perhaps an Application you need hosted? Ensure you ask the web host if they have experience hosting customers similar to you and even ask for testimonials.
#5 Check the hosting provider’s website
Does it look professional and are there signs that it’s been updated recently. Has their blog been neglected for the last 12 months? This is a sign that the web host may not run this operation full time or be giving the business the attention it deserves.
#6 Take a look at their Social Presence
Do they have social pages that are neglected with no updates for many months? Are there a lot of negative comments from existing customers?
#7 Check hosting plans
A big hosting plan with all the bells and whistles can cost big dollars – the last thing you need if you’re a startup business. You’re best to start with a simpler plan if you’re starting small. However, the chances are your website will grow so it’s crucial that your host has scalable plans that can grow as you do.
#8 Read their Uptime Service Level Agreement
This agreement will outline what percentage of time the web host guarantees to have your website active. It will usually provide details on what compensation is payable when these uptime guarantees are not met. A website that’s down can impact your business severely so don’t overlook this factor.
#9 Compare Pricing
You don’t want to pay more than you have to so make sure the host you are considering offers pricing in the ball park of it’s competitors. If it doesn’t, there may be a genuine reason such as a hosting plan that provides specialised services that the others don’t offer. Ask the question to find out why if the pricing seems much higher than the others.
#10 Determine the backup process
If you’ve ever lost your phone that isn’t backed up you’ll know the headaches that result from the lost contacts, photos, music and loads of other personal information. If you can imagine that on a much bigger scale, you’ll understand how frustrating it is losing your website. There are a variety of reasons you could lose your website, but a major contributor to website loss is hackers and viruses. It’s crucial that you have a backup of your website for this reason. Ensure that your website host provides full backup services on a regular basis to give yourself peace of mind.
#11 Be sure they can provide what you need
Every customer has different requirements regarding technologies and services. Will you require multiple databases, Linux or Windows, multiple websites, perhaps you’ll have large bandwidth requirements or need SSH Access? If you aren’t tech savvy, it’s best to check with your web developer (if you have one) to check if there are any special requirements your website may need. If you don’t have a developer, speak directly to the web host in layman terms about what you’re wanting to build and they should be able to advise whether their hosting plans are suitable for your needs.
#12 How long has the web host been operating?
The fact is, it’s quite easy to start a web hosting business by reselling another host’s plans. New providers pop up every day and many of these don’t last for a variety of reasons. Find out how long the host has been operating and avoid new startups to reduce the risk of being left with no hosting at all.
Don’t waste time and money on the wrong website host. Take some time at the start to run through the above considerations and you’ll have a much better shot at getting it right from the start. And most importantly, avoid the rookie mistakes of focusing entirely on price and failing to consider your websites long term requirements. Good luck with your website and call one of our support team on 1300 722 504 if you’d like to discuss your hosting requirements.