Many UK businesses don’t think about the hosting package they choose for the company website, often choosing price over quality or their true needs. There are different types and quality when it comes to hosting though, so choosing the wrong host can seriously affect a site’s ranking, if it’s not up to the job it’s intended for.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the different types of host and which are the best choice for various types of business.
If you have a business site, then the first thing to bear in mind is that free hosting is not for you. It’s useful for personal blogs, but for professional sites the quality of the hosting is unlikely to be high enough for it to be effective.
This is due to:
- Support – free hosting won’t necessarily provide this and if they do, it’s often not good enough to cope with emergencies
- Hardware – good hardware to host sites on is a must but does cost, therefore free hosting is unlikely to be up to the job
- Features tend to be light on free hosting packages, so you may not have access to applications such as WordPress on one-click installs
- Sharing – free or cheap packages require you to share the web server with others and so you’re restricted on bandwidth, site speed (due to shared resources such as CPU, memory, etc.) and storage space
- Downtime – your site being available at all times is a must and free packages tend to experience more downtime than others
Even if you don’t choose free hosting, but a cheap package at say £1.99 per month, it may not be enough for you. Ensure that you check out testimonials, ask for proof when it comes to uptimes – many offer 99.9% uptime but often don’t deliver this in reality. There are plenty of review forums out there with real customer experiences on them, so make sure that you have a good look around at what people are saying before you sign on the dotted line.
Types of Hosting
There are a few types of hosting available and what your site needs will determine which you choose. For example, if you have an ecommerce site that’s going to be getting a lot of traffic, then you will need to choose a dedicated server, with SSL support, solid server security and plenty of bandwidth.
Types of hosting available are:
- VPS (Virtual Private Server)
Most solutions will be managed, the only one that isn’t is collocated hosting, which is where you will buy your own server and have it housed at the web hosting company’s data centre. Whilst this allows you full control over the server, it also means that you’re responsible for it, so will mean that you will have to have IT staff who can manage that.
Dedicated hosting on the other hand, means that you lease the server, rather than own it. However, you do have the entire server dedicated to hosting your site, hence the name. Dedicated hosting is the most reliable and best in terms of performance, the only downside is that it is more expensive than other types of hosting.
VPS hosting is similar to shared, in that the actual machine hosts more than one site, but it does so by creating a virtual machine on the server for each site. This can then have any operating system installed, but resources are still being shared with others. However, resources are generally better than straightforward shared hosting, as machines tend to be more powerful and hosted on a cluster of physical servers, meaning that in the event of hardware failure, the site can be rerouted to another part of the network easily with little, if any, downtime.
Shared hosting is just that. You share a server with other sites and are allocated a certain amount of resources. However, what’s often found with shared hosting, especially if it’s low quality, is that other users can hog resources, slowing your site to a crawl.
The actual hardware used by the web hosting company is something that not many people give a whole lot of thought to, but they should. These days, how your site performs in terms of load times is important to SEO, as a slow site is considered to be not especially good in terms of usability to Google.
This means that you should research and question the type of hardware used by the host. Older or low-end hardware is unlikely to give you the performance that’s desired, so ask questions surrounding:
- Server manufacturer
- Hardware used
You want to know if they use top-of-the-line servers, as if they are slow, they will naturally affect the speed of your site. It’s also important to ask how much RAM, disk space and bandwidth there is available to help determine if it’s the right package for you.
This is vital to every business as if the support fails, you can be left with a site that’s not working as it should be and feeling very frustrated that there’s very little you can actually do about it.
Hosting support should be available 24/7 and preferably, should be local to your country, as should your server/data centre. Make sure that support isn’t outsourced where possible and that you can actually talk to a real person if you need to. This is where you should look hard at customer reviews and testimonials; look for a host that understands just how important support is.
There are generally two types of control panel that comes with your hosting solution, Plesk and cPanel. These allow you to manage your site options, such as setting up FTP accounts, setting up mail for different users and catchalls, as well as installing subdomains and choosing applications to install such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
These should have a good, easy-to-use interface and should work smoothly, without confusing you the user too much. They should allow you to make updates and modifications easily, without having to contact support.
It’s wise to choose a host which can offer you flexibility and scalability. This allows you to grow your business with the host and saves you the trouble of later having to move the entire site as you need to upgrade.
With this in mind, make sure that the host offers more than one solution. They should offer all of the packages we’ve talked about, including dedicated servers, so that you can upgrade if necessary. Look at future-proofing the business and use your business plan to think about what extra resources you may need in the future.
The internet economy is huge in the UK and if you want to compete, then you need to get all manner of things right when it comes to your site. Unfortunately, all hosting companies are not created equally, so it pays to do your research when it comes to what they can offer you.
A bad hosting package will affect your bottom line, as it can negatively impact SEO and site performance. In these days of mobile and what’s necessary to ensure your site loads quickly across devices, having a slow site can mean people leave quickly. If they do, then it’s highly likely that you will lose revenue, as well as visitors.