It’s easy to blame a web host or server when your website has issues—after all, these mostly invisible and silent IT support agencies are easy targets. However, sometimes the buck gets passed on purpose and sometimes it’s an honest mistake. A lot of people don’t really know what web hosts do or what other issues might be impacting their site’s poor performance. While there are many things web hosts can do to improve your site’s performance, there’s also a myriad of things that can go wrong that aren’t their fault.
Whether you have a dedicated server (rare!) or a shared one (more likely), no web hosting experience is going to be flawless. There will be downtime, issues beyond the control of your web host (try taking a look at your internet provider or web designer instead), and sheer flukes at play. Check out some of the most common things web hosts get blamed for and what might really be the issue:
- The website’s down!
Obviously if the server goes down, then that means the website will be down (this is why you need to make sure to hire a web host with high guaranteed uptime). However, there’s a plethora of reasons why a site might not be loading, from a poor internet connection to a traffic jam a la the 2014 Academy Awards. Check with your web host first, and hopefully you’ve chosen an agency that guarantees over 99 percent uptime. If they give the all clear, it’s time to start investigating and finding the real perp.
- Checkout issues
This is maddening for e-tailers who depend on a positive checkout experience as their bread and butter. There are many reasons checkout isn’t working, and only one of them may be your hosts’ fault. However, the likelier explanation is that your checkout merchant is having issues, your customer’s payment method isn’t working, or the Wi-Fi connection isn’t strong enough.
- The site is way too slow
Getting multiple complaints about a slow site? The first and easiest thing to check is your server by calling your host—they might be able to spot the problem and fix it instantly. However, a slow website can also be caused by many other things, starting with a bad internet connection on your customer’s end. Another issue might be your site’s design, from having too big of images to too many pop ups and auto loads.
- Your SEO rankings are going downhill
Google is notoriously hush hush when it comes to dishing about the details of their SEO algorithm, but common best practices only partly encompass what your host can handle. For example, uptime and site speed are SEO factors, but there are many more—quality of organic content, good links, the possibility of lingering black hat tricks…the list goes on. If your SEO is suffering, definitely check your uptime and site speed, but more importantly get an SEO agency on board.
- Bad display
Maybe your site’s speed is okay, but it’s just not displaying correctly. You can’t let that slide in a world of mobile readiness. It might be a server/speed issue, but more likely your web designer isn’t keeping up with responsive design.
Still want to blame the host? You can—but that’s not going to fix anything. A great website takes a holistic approach, so start with hosting but be prepared to keep digging.