I have often been asked why hosting matters for a web site. To many people, any cheap shared hosting will do. But is that the truth? Does it really not matter where you host your website?
I think your choice of webhost is important — and by the end of this post, I hope you will too. To help you out, I have compiled four areas you should consider in your hosting choice, and why each one matters to the success of your website.
Now I am not saying you need to immediately move to a dedicated server or start paying a huge hosting bill every month. You don’t need the fastest server available but you do need to avoid the slowest ones. Why does speed matter when it comes to your site? Here are a few reasons:
- End users are impatient. If your site loads 4x slower than your competitors, who do you think your target market is going to shop from? Just think of how annoying it is to navigate through a site that won’t load.
- Social media. Facebook and other social media sites pull the data used for your snippet and thumbnail from you site when you link to it in your social media feed. If they can’t connect to your site, the attempt times out and you don’t get a nice preview.
- Google penalizes for site speed. While it’s not a huge factor, Google can penalize you if your site is loading too slowly both for mobile view and for desktop view.
Reliability & Uptime
Several major hosting companies had some serious outages during the recent holidays, with entire servers doing down for a day or more. This results in lost business, not only during the actual downtime but in terms of buyer confidence once the site is back up. How does your hosting company stack up in terms of reliability and uptime?
- Is someone monitoring your uptime? Are you alerted when an issue comes up or are you the one that has to alert your host?
- Are you notified of potential downtime and scheduled maintenance?
- Does your host address the issue or blame you when you notice downtime or a slowdown? Worse yet, do they deny it exists?
- Does your hosting include regular backups? Are the backups stored in a way that is accessible and useful, even if your site is down?
Security not only affects you — it affects every single person visiting your site if they are unknowingly downloading a virus from your site. What are the potential issues you could face?
- Hosting with weak security breeds viruses. WordPress worms can travel horizontally through many accounts on the same server, infecting your site and anyone who visits it.
- A hacked site can get you on the blacklist so that new visitors will be unable to see your site as their virus program or Google blocks it.
- You can get hit without warning when your host isn’t keeping the servers clean or alerting you to potential threats.
- You could lose your entire site in the worst case scenario. In the best cases, hacks can be fixed — but not without costing you money, causing you downtime, or losing some of your data.
When your site goes down or has problem, how reliable is the support you will receive from your hosting company?
- Will they be able to provide you (or your developer) with logs to address the problem? I have seen too many horror tales of hosts that just respond with “I don’t know” instead of being able to produce useful data.
- Do they actually read your support request e-mails and respond in a helpful manner? Don’t laugh — I recently had an issue with this and I assure you that you’ll be screaming when you get the 4th response that clearly indicates no one is actually reading your e-mail.
- Can you get a response from someone? If no one will pick up the phone or the response time is a few days, you may have an issue.
As you can see, hosting can be complicated — but with the right host and proper setup, you can look forward to a long and happy relationship with your website. If you have any questions about hosting, please feel free to ask in the comments below!
As you can see, hosting can be complicated — but with the right host and proper setup, you can look forward to a long and happy relationship with your website. If you have any questions about hosting, please feel free to ask in the comments below! You can also Contact Me if you want to discuss your shared hosting needs, or check out my Fully Managed Hosting if you are looking for a higher level of service from your host.