If you ask someone what they think a web host does, you’ll get a plethora of responses – and many of them are wrong. “Hosting” sounds a lot like generic customer service, and “web”? Well, surely that can describe just about anything to do with the internet or websites. You’d be surprised at just how creative people can get when they’re put on the spot. You’ll get answers ranging from “making websites” to “registering domain names”.
For anyone who’s ever been a web host or worked for one, you know that being a web host/maintaining servers is a very niche job. You get blamed for all sorts of things that have nothing to do with you, and asked questions that are totally outside your realm (like why a customer cancelled an order, or how to rank #1 in Google for “cheap flights”).
Here are some of the most common things people think web hosts do, but they don’t:
- Web hosts give me free Wifi
- They make websites
- They handle mobile readiness
- They’re generic IT support
- They “do” SEO
Sorry, no. Hosts have absolutely nothing to do with providing internet/wifi services, but you do need to have your site “hosted” before it can be found online. Web hosts should be offering a smorgasbord of options, but providing you with internet access just isn’t one of them. Luckily, web hosts are so used to this confusion that some of them can offer advice on how to find a quality ISP for their customers.
Some companies offer both web design services as well as web hosting services, but not necessarily both. In many cases, customers stumble onto web hosting sites when they’re actually looking for design or development services. That’s putting the cart before the horse. However, if a web host gets enough of these confused calls, they just might think about expanding their services to include design.
Being mobile-ready, or mobile-first is an entirely different arena. It concerns ensuring a website loads quickly and beautifully no matter what platform or device is being used. It’s a big buzzword right now, and a lot of website owners are worried about not being prepped for the mobile ready world. However, this is something a web designer should take care of, not a web host.
Of course a web host is there for IT support if there’s an issue with their hosting service, but that’s the extent of their knowledge. They have no idea why your search engine rankings are poor or why there’s too much white space on the mobile version of your website. Luckily for customers, great web hosts can often intuit which company should really be contacted and point clients in the right direction.
Only an SEO agency or professional should handle SEO needs. Just like web hosting, SEO can be very confusing to the average person, and the caller might be already frustrated when they reach a live web host. Unfortunately, this is like calling a used car lot in order to schedule a window tinting treatment. They’re kind of in the same ballpark, but totally different tasks.
As a web host, you’ll be getting a lot of wrong calls, but that’s okay. It’s an opportunity to possibly connect to a brand new client, possibly convert them by offering them better services, and it gives you an idea of what potential expansion might like like in your future.