If you have a small business or plan on starting one, you probably already know that you are going to need to make a website. Having a website allows you to take your business to a much larger audience. However, it can be difficult to choose the best small business web hosting company.
Online shopping is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. While retail still has the edge, online shopping is just about neck and neck when it comes to general store and online sales. Both are at 11.8%, and online sales continue to increase each year.
As a business, you can earn a lot of money by selling products online, but there’s much more to having a website than sales. Ranking your small business on search engines like Google is sure to help your foot traffic as well.
This is extremely important since many people will look up stores near them on their mobile devices. On top of this, you can advertise on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Today, I am going to demonstrate how to choose the best small business web hosting company for you.
Web Hosting Terms
Web hosting companies throw around a lot of terms that make it difficult for business owners to understand. While the intention is to give a clear description of services, they tend to have the opposite effect. And for someone brand new to web hosting, it can be overwhelming.
Thus, you need to understand what some of the basic terms mean and how they will impact you.
Uptime is how often your website will be online and is typically reflected by a percentage. If a web company says 99.9% uptime, it means over the course of the year, you should only see 8.77 hours of downtime.
This is hands down the most important term you need to look for in a web hosting company as a small business or anything else for that matter. When your website is down, you are not able to receive traffic or make sales. You should always be looking for the highest amount of uptime in a web host.
Bandwidth is the amount of data and traffic that can transfer between your website, users, and the internet. The more traffic and data your website uses, the more bandwidth you will need.
The importance of bandwidth depends entirely on your website’s size. If you have a new website, you will have a small amount of traffic. This means you don’t need a high amount of bandwidth. However, if you have an established website, you probably already have a good idea about how much bandwidth you need.
Disk Space is the amount of storage your website is alotted on a web server by your web host. The higher your disk space, the more storage capacity you have.
Again, the importance of disk space is entirely based on what type of website you run. If you have a few business pages with contact information and a few products, you are not going to need much. However, if you have a very large website or use large media files, like videos, space will be an issue.
The Domain Name is a combination of letters and numbers that end with a domain name extension i.e .com, .net, etc. This is what visitors must type in as a URL. For example, our domain name is GreenGeeks and our extension is .com.
There are millions of websites, and unfortunately, most of the good names are either taken or have been bought by a person or company with the intention to sell them. Nonetheless, you cannot make a website without a domain name. Most web hosts will offer a free domain name or one for a small price.
A backup is a copy of your website that can be used to restore your website in the case of an emergency. For example, if your website was hacked, you could use a backup to restore your website to avoid downtime from repairs.
Backups are one of the most powerful developer tools at your disposal. Not making one is a huge mistake. You should always look for a web hosting company that offers automatic backups. However, I strongly recommend also making a backup yourself just in case.
Content Management System (CMS)
A Content Management System (CMS) is a type of software that can be used to create, modify, and manage digital content. To put it another way, this is the piece of software you will use to create your website.
The most popular CMS is WordPress due to its customization options and how easy it is to start out. However, there are plenty of other options available, like Drupal and Joomla, which are quite popular.
Most web hosting companies make it clear which CMS they support and may even offer customized servers that are exclusively for that CMS. While you may spend more for this, you will definitely notice a performance boost.
Security is how well protected your website is from threats on your web host’s end. This is probably the simplest term to understand in theory, but the term security means different things to different web hosts.
There are some really good defenses out there like firewalls, malware detection and removal tools, DDoS protection, SSL protocol, general software protection on their equipment, and more.
However, just because they exist doesn’t mean every web host uses them. Or at the very least, offers them to customers without charging extra.
It is very important to look closely at what security features they use to protect your website from harm.
Pick the Right Plan
So you understand the basic terms and how they will affect you, but now comes the hard part: picking a plan. Each web host will offer a wide variety of services.
Most plans have different resource allotments. Understanding the proper amount of resources your website will need is important. Paying for unused resources is a great way to waste money, so make sure to have a clear idea if you have an established website.
In general, there are 3 options for small business web hosting:
Shared hosting is when you rent a certain amount of space on a web server along with other websites. These types of plans are much cheaper as a result and are perfect for new websites that will not receive a lot of traffic or don’t use a lot of resources.
VPS hosting plans allow you to rent out your very own virtual server. This is far more expensive than a shared hosting plan and is really only intended for larger websites that get a lot of traffic and use a lot of resources.
WordPress hosting plans come in a variety of sizes and include shared and VPS options. These are web servers that are customized to run a specific CMS. In this case, WordPress, but there are plenty of dedicated CMS options to choose from.
Dedicated Server Hosting
A dedicated hosting plan is when you rent out an entire server dedicated to you and you alone. Unlike a VPS, which still technically shares resources with others but are more isolated than shared plans, a dedicated server is completely yours to control.
Examine the Pricing Options Carefully
What the web host offers is very important. But for many people, the price that they charge for it is even more important.
The fees you pay to host your website are the equivalent of rent for your business space. Thanks to the competitive nature of web hosting, the prices are very reasonable, especially if you do not need a lot of resources.
However, the price is not very cut and dried. One web host may be much cheaper than the others, but may not offer the same level of support, security, uptime, or quality of the competition.
Since the website will reflect your business, you need to make sure it runs well. So do not always pick the cheapest option.
Consider Environmental Impact
It is pretty rare to start a business of any size in 2020 and not consider the impact it will have on the environment. The web hosting industry has an emissions problem.
Data centers use a lot of power to host websites 24/7 with uptimes of 99.9%, and that leaves a big carbon footprint. This includes the power to operate the servers, overhead, cooling methods and more in every data center.
However, web hosting has many green alternatives to think about. At GreenGeeks, we make sure we do our part by carefully calculating the energy we use.
After the calculations are complete, we purchase 3 times that amount in wind energy and send it right to the grid. This means the more power we use, the more clean energy we contribute.
Your Website Reflects Your Business
If you already run a small business with a physical location, you understand the importance of appearances.
For example, if you want to eat out for dinner, are you going to eat at a place that looks dirty? Probably not, and a website is no different. How fast it loads, how nice it looks and how easy it is to navigate are what people will notice when they visit.
And if they don’t like your website, odds are they are not going to visit your actual location. Thus, picking a quality web hosting company is vital, as it will have a direct impact on the performance of your website.