If you own a small business, you are probably well aware that your biggest advertising asset is your website. If you don’t have one yet, stop reading right now and go create one! In this digital age, the go-to place for people to find services is the internet. If you aren’t up there, you’re already behind. It’s time to get to work, and we’ll help you find the best website hosting for small business. Plus, with all the options out there, affordable web hosting is not hard to get.
Why is website hosting so important? Owning a website for your small business is like being a parent to a baby while working full-time. You are going to need someone to babysit, and you wouldn’t leave that up to just anybody, would you?
What website hosting means is that you register with a company and use their servers to store all the information that your website consists of. The web host also delivers the info on your site to people who land up there. Choosing a web hosting company and a hosting plan is not a small job. This guide is designed to help you figure out exactly what you need so you can choose the best web hosting company for your small business. Whether you need e-commerce tools, domain registration, unlimited bandwidth, or uptime guarantee, there are plenty of resources to help get you going,
Before we dive into which hosting companies offer the best web hosting to business owners, there are some factors that you will need to pay attention to on your hunt for a good host on the small business web.
Things to consider:
In keeping with the idea of your website being similar to a child, you wouldn’t simply pick a random babysitter off of the internet, would you? You would research, read their CV, call their references, and do all you could to find out just how qualified this person is to look after your little angel.
You should treat web hosting services in the same way. Don’t just leap in. Consider some important things that will make a difference to how your site and business run, and let your attention focus where it needs to without worrying about your hosting.
You may need certain features to be available on your website. This is based on the type of business you run. If you’re an e-commerce website, you will need a web hosting plan that caters to sales. If your site isn’t geared towards selling, then you will obviously not need this feature.
Some web hosting companies don’t offer email features through the site, and some have a limit to the amount of data you can transfer every month. You will need to look at all of these things and decide what your specific business needs and doesn’t need.
Efficiency is important, and you don’t want to be wasting time, money and data doing things that really aren’t necessary for your business!
Obviously, this one will depend on your budget, but the old saying is most often the truth – you get what you pay for. There are various hosting packages to choose from. You have to keep in mind that there’s shared hosting as well as a dedicated server. Some hosting companies will seem pricey, but cheap hosting is not always the answer. If you can only afford a free domain or something basic to begin, it is worth doing so with an upgrade in mind for the future.
Small business owners have to make sure that the cost of whatever web hosting plan they’re looking at is appropriate for what they receive on the plan. Don’t choose a plan or package based purely on cost! Rather, make a list of what features you need out of a hosting plan, and then compare different hosting provider options that cater for your needs and see which falls more into your price range. Make sure that there’s a great customer support team that can help you whenever you need it.
3) Technical Expertise
Different hosting companies offer different packages, and what’s suitable for you will depend on what you need, how tech-savvy you are and how much customer support you will require. Remember, you do need to have some face-time with your own baby, so you will have to actually do stuff on your website here and there.
It is entirely up to you just how involved you are in your site though. Your hosting service provider can do all the technical stuff and leave you to blog, or you can do the tech bits and save yourself a bit of cash. Don’t be fooled though – if you aren’t totally confident doing some of the inner workings of your site by yourself, rather go for a higher priced option and let them do it. You’ll end up saving time.
If your site is down regularly, people will get frustrated, or they simply won’t be able to find you when they search online. Frustration is the last thing you as a small business want your customers to feel, and the last thing you as the business owner want to experience as well.
Make sure the hosting service you are looking at has a decent uptime reputation. Obviously, the more time your site is active and up and running on the internet, the more business you’ll get.
Uptime and downtime can play a bigger role than you may realize in making a good impression on customers, and nobody wants to lose customers or miss an opportunity because their web hosting provider is down more than it’s up. You can track your website’s uptime using a number of tools to keep updated with how it’s doing.
5) Customer Service
For the occasional moments when downtime is happening or when you need a bit of help with something on your website builder, or control panel, I’m pretty sure you would prefer to have a live chat with a friendly, knowledgeable person. The last thing you’d want would be an automated voice telling you someone will be with you shortly.
Customer service is highly important and often forgotten when it comes to finding a reliable web hosting company. There will be times when Google can’t answer your questions, or you aren’t sure what to do with your site. Customer service agents are the people you will be contacting to help with these things, and bad customer service can have disastrous effects…on your own business, not just theirs.
Not only will your site not get fixed or your problem not get solved, but your frustration levels will also increase, and nobody wants the boss to be frustrated at something that can be quickly fixed by the right person. Make sure that the web hosting company you choose takes their customer service seriously. After all, you are entrusting an important part of your business to them.
Types of hosting:
There are multiple types of hosting, and each is geared towards the different needs of the site owner.
1) Shared Web Hosting
Shared web hosting is likely to be the most affordable of them all, but it’s kind of like sending your kiddie to the local daycare. Sure, it’s affordable, and they’ll be safe … But they’ll be in a room with a crowd of other children, they won’t have the carer’s attention on them all the time, and sometimes sharing toys can lead to tantrums.
Your website will be hosted on a server that is also hosting a few other sites. You’re sharing not only the cost but also the resources on the server. This can lead to issues such as your site loading extremely slowly when one of the other sites is experiencing a lot of activity.
Of course, depending again on what exactly people will be doing when they land on your business site, this could be a bigger or a smaller problem for you. Something like an e-commerce site can’t really afford to have buyers waiting even a few minutes for the page to load, so shared hosting may not be the optimal option.
2) Dedicated Hosting
Dedicated hosting is like getting your kid a private tutor. One on one, time, attention and catering for exactly what he or she needs. The benefits can be clearly seen. It’s worth spending a bit more.
This means that your site has a single server dedicated to it, and can make full use of all the resources on it. This is a more stable and reliable option than shared. Your site will have plenty of storage, memory and all the other resources it may need on its own server. Dedicated hosting will cost more than shared, but it is an investment worth making.
In fact, if your small business is an e-commerce business, dedicated hosting is a necessity, for a few reasons. Dedicated servers usually come with daily backups, stronger security, and the option for unlimited data transfers.
The real draw though is something called a dedicated SSL certificate. This is essential if you are selling products through your site because an SSL certificate means that your site encrypts the data that is shared between you and your buyer’s site, which means that their payment information is secure. This is a huge factor when it comes to being seen a trustworthy business, and while you can get a free SSL certificate when using shared hosting, it is more unstable and tends to be less professional.
A shared SSL certificate will have your URL looking something like this: https://servername.yourhost.com/, whereas a dedicated SSL will simply be https://yourname.com/. As you can imagine, many customers are going to be wary if the URL suddenly isn’t your domain name anymore, and when it comes to e-commerce, you do not want your customers feeling that you are untrustworthy.
If you choose to buy reseller hosting, what’s happening is that you are not buying the hosting package directly from the web hosting company. Sometimes, other companies rent the servers from the main hosting provider and re-sell that server space to businesses.
This can be shared or dedicated hosting, and prices can vary wildly as the resellers set their own package pricing. There is a bonus with using a reseller host, though. As it’s a popular entrepreneur venture, chances are you know somebody who is doing this already! Being hosted by somebody in your friend or family circle is always a little more reassuring, as you have the direct contact should you need to find out some info or ask advice.
The downside is that the channels of communication can be a little tricky. The reseller may need to go back to the main hosting provider to get help with some problems. This is definitely a longer process when it comes to fixing issues. Apart from that, the differences between shared and dedicated still apply here – the only difference is who you are paying!
VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting is a best-of-both-worlds solution for website hosting. While you are essentially on a shared server, there are fewer sites on the same server as you. You’ll have a more stable and reliable outcome than shared hosting.
This is a cost-effective option for many businesses, as the cost of the server is shared. The biggest difference between VPS and shared hosting is that the sites on the server don’t share the server’s resources. Each is allocated a server area that none of the other sites can access.
VPS has a bit of a reputation for being more easily available on Linux-based servers, so to find Windows-based VPS hosting may require some searching. If you are going with VPS hosting, you will also need to find out what the deal is with the SSL certificate. This can vary depending on the host provider.
Remember, the type you choose doesn’t have to be final. If you aren’t totally sure which may work best for you, it is recommended to start off with shared hosting (unless you’re an e-commerce business). Once you find that you are outgrowing it, you can always upgrade.
If you are an e-commerce business and are still on the fence about dedicated hosting, try to start off with VPS and move to dedicated hosting later … Should you need to.
Best Website Hosting Companies:
There is an enormous amount of hosting companies out there. Some are very well-known and have good reputations, and some are known for all the wrong reasons.
Here are a few of the better known and more liked hosting services below. This is, however, by no means an exhaustive list, and remember – this can also vary quite drastically by country.
3) A2 Hosting
Check out our BlueHost review here.
Check out our Flywheel review here.
There are a multitude of others to choose from, and if you want an in-depth, super detailed, practical review of most of them, check out this Google spreadsheet from Hosting Facts.
Website hosting for your small business doesn’t have to be complicated. Figure out what suits your needs and your budget, and then go for a reliable hosting provider. It’s as easy as that!