Shopping for a new web host can seem overwhelming, but there are a few benchmarks hosts need to achieve before earning your business. It might seem trivial, especially if you want a shared hosting plan for free or very low cost, but your web host can speed up or slow down your site. They can guarantee a certain amount of uptime and build compensation into the contract if they fall short—or not. Ultimately, your website visitors are going to hold you responsible for their experience, not the web host.
You can do everything else “right” when building your website, but choose the wrong web host and it’s all for naught. After all, what good is a great website if the uptime is so terrible you’re seemingly never in full swing? Driving traffic to your site is what bolsters growth, and lack of traffic means poor SEO results, lost customers and lost revenue. You need enough space on that server to make the most of internet connectivity, which is doable via the data center your web host uses. Your web host may (or may not!) offer a bevy of services that complement sheer hosting.
Here are a few benchmarks your web host needs to meet before you sign the contract:
- They keep you informed: How, when and where your web host communicates with you is a huge consideration. How will they inform you if there’s planned downtime—or unplanned? Do they let you stay in control of how and how often you’re reached? Communication should match your own style and, in some cases, time zone.
- Know they’re guaranteed uptime: No web host can guarantee 100 percent uptime, but they can certainly guarantee over 99 percent uptime. It might not seem like there’s a huge difference between 99.6 percent and 99.8 percent, but there is. Every second your website is down, you’re marring your online reputation and losing visitors. Plus, it’s going to negatively impact your SEO because uptime plays a critical role in how “good” your website is.
- Check the bandwidth allocation: This term means how many people can throng your site and the amount of data that’s downloadable each month. Some shady hosts may offer unlimited bandwidth, but that term can sadly be subjective. Some sites require the hosting of major media files, such as if you offer downloading to your visitors, so watch for the fine print in those Terms of Service carefully.
- Demand 24/7 support: You deserve a host who’s there for you around the clock evenings, weekends and holidays. What happens if your site goes down at 4am on Cyber Monday? You’ll miss out on your biggest revenue day of the year simply because your host wants to offer banker’s hours. This is one contingency you can’t afford to forego.
- Ask yourself if unlimited space is worth it: A great way to reel in web host customers is to offer them unlimited anything, including space. Does this unlimited space mean shared plans, dedicated servers or do you have to give up something you really want to get this “deal?”
In the end, only you can decide which factors are a must for you when choosing a web host. Sometimes free is perfect for you, and maybe you really need a neighborhood web host so you get a more personal touch in customer service. Make sure you set the parameters, then find a web host who fits them.