Webhosting is, and will be detrimental to the success of your business and everything else that is related to it. Personally, I think it is one of the most important decisions that you’ll need to make before you do anything else.
It is hence crucial to choose a good webhost, and avoid falling for gimmicks or promotions that might urge you to go for cheap webhosting, and be stuck with shoddy hosting and aftersales for a long period of time, putting your business and your online presence as well as your reputation at risk. And for what, a few hundred bucks?
Here are some of the things you should consider when choosing a webhosting service for your website or blog(s), and especially when deciding between an expensive webhosting package vs. a cheap one:
By far, the most important factor when it comes to webhosts: reliability. This is something that can make or break a webhosting service. Every single webhost that you come across will claim to be ‘the most reliable out there’, or guarantee 99.9% uptime, but in reality, it’s mostly a load of BS, especially when it comes to cheap webhosting packages. Remember, you get what you pay for, and with cheap webhosts, expect plenty of downtimes, outages and generally unreliable service. Webhosts such as HostGator, BlueHost or DreamHost might not be cheap, but they’re the most popular ones for a reason!
Another important element is security. They skimp on using important/essential security measures for their service, and hence don’t provide these to their customers as well, in order to bring the costs down. As a result, websites hosted on these are much more prone to getting hacked and vulnerable from a security point-of-view. Make sure the webhosting company you choose provides at least some sort of security as a standard with your package (and the option to purchase other forms of website protection such as SiteLock).
Cheap webhosting services will almost always skimp out on the set of features that they provide. For instance these services will rarely provide unlimited bandwidth, the ability to host more than a few websites (unlimited domains), and other features that the more expensive web-hosting services usually offer as a standard with all their packages. Additional features like a good control panel (cPanel), site-building tools, a security suite (such as sitelock, for instance) and anti-spam and anti-virus measures, any-time money-back guarantee, free chopping-cart tools (handy, if you intend on running an ecommerce website), unlimited email IDs, and marketing tools are offered by almost all good webhosts. But beware, as a lot of webhosts will provide you with a plethora of ‘extra’ or additional benefits, while skimping out on providing the essentials in order to attract and lure unwitting customers.
For a lot of the people out there, customer/after-sales service is easily one of the most important aspects of a webhosting service. Like I said before, you get what you pay for when it comes to webhosts. With a good webhost and their reliable service, you won’t need to ring up customer support very often but on the rare occasion that you do, you’ll know that (a) you will be able to speak to a qualified professional who will make sure that any issues are resolved at the earliest, (b) the service will be prompt, and (c) the webhost provides multiple ways of getting in touch with them (phone, email, webchat, etc). Quite obviously, your business will suffer if your website goes down for some reason and the webhost takes too long to get back to you, or too long to identify the issue and rectify the problems!
Search Engine Optimization
The hosting that you choose will have a direct impact on your website’s usability as well as its search engine ranking. For starters, a slow webhosting service will mean that your website is too slow to load up. This means that it probably won’t rank very well either, given that Google counts site speed as a ranking factor, giving quick-loading websites a higher ranking than ones that are too slow to load up. Furthermore, if the webhost make regular backups of your website and reverts to an earlier backup in case of an outage, will that have an effect on your website, like dead links, 404 errors or a loss of on-site changes – all things that could adversely affect your SERPs.
Cost vs Benefit
At the end of the day, it is essential to have a variety of options, and be able to do a cost-benefit analysis for the webhost that you intend to choose. The amount of money that you save on by choosing a cheap webhosting service will probably be lost when you start running into problems, downtimes and/or outages. And if your business or your livelihood depends on your website, or if you depend on your website as the sole source of your income, you probably cannot afford for your website to go down (or give your problems) for even a few minutes, let alone a few hours or days.