For your business and brand to boom online, you should take several key things into account when choosing a web hosting company*. Here are our top five things to look for when choosing a web host.
Uptime: Are the servers reliable?
Uptime is the opposite of downtime. Its the percentage of time it has been working and available. In the simplest terms, its a measure of server reliability. You’ll want your website online 24/7, and the uptime percentage in the high 99.99% range. This is a useful resource for calculating uptime – https://uptime.is/99.99
That extra 0.01% of a month is less than 5 minutes of downtime, which could be accounted for by a server update or reboot. Your hosting company will do this kind of work at unsociable hours, so you probably won’t even notice!
A slow web server will hurt your website’s search engine rankings. Fast servers mean a better user experience and better rankings. Simples!
An important factor here is Time to First Byte (TTFB). That’s the number of seconds it takes for the server to answer your request and start sending the web page you want to see to your browser. The faster the TTFB, the sooner you see the webpage.
WordPress is probably the most hacked web platform on the internet. This is essentially due to it being the most popular, with 39% of all websites running on the platform (source Kinsta). If your website is hacked or another mishap occurs, can your site be recovered from backup? If not, then you’re left exposed and could suffer a long period without a website. So back up baby.
Are strong passwords enforced? Will you be provided with an SSL Certificate so that your website runs over HTTPS? Does the server use the latest TLS version? These are all questions you’d want the hosting company to answer “Yes” to.
Some website URLs start with http://, but others start with https://. Well, you’ll want that additional ‘s’, as it indicates that your website’s connection is secure. To get it, though, you’ll need a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate; a little file which adds a secure link between a server and browser, ensuring all data passed between two are kept private.
Some companies will charge you for running your site over SSL, so look around, as you can get this for free from other providers.
Is the hosting company a ‘faceless’ organisation or can you speak to real people? Do they have a support phone line or ticket system? How long is their Service-Level Agreement (SLA) for reported issues?
The bigger the company, the better the support will be, but you’ll probably find that you have to pay for that, so the hosting may be more costly.
Where are the servers physically? You may think it doesn’t matter in this day and age. But it really does. We’d advise choosing a company that has servers as close to your target market as you are.
For example, if your website services the UK market and you decide to host it on a cheap web hosting server over in the USA, the load time will increase. That’s down to the distance between the server and the end-user.
It means their experience will be worse for your users, and the website may not convert sales.
*Well, you can’t trust your brand new shiny website to any old company, can you?
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