Why you need the host with the most

While you’re busy running your business each day, if you’re anything like me, you probably don’t give your own website a second thought. I mean, why would you? It’s just there, isn’t it? Or is it…? 

The difference between your website’s success and failure is based on a multitude of factors (see my previous articles for just a few to consider), but there’s one key essential which cannot be underrated – rock solid hosting. Without that in place, the dreaded words “This web page is not available” flash before your potential customers’ eyes and, shortly afterwards, they’re gone. 

I recently read that 88% of online consumers will not return to a site after a bad experience like a failure to load, slow loading or a security warning – all of which are massively dependent on the hosting account the website sits in. 

Sidebar: for the non-techies among us; your hosting account is simply the space on the internet your website sits in. Sometimes this also gives your email a place to live, but for this article we’re focussing on the website only 😉 

Now picture this; instead of the dreaded Page Not Found message, your customers see your site in all its glory, quickly loaded onto their screen and with that magical padlock at the top of the page so they’re completely confident to enter their personal or purchasing details, safe in the knowledge that this will be well taken care of. How much more likely do you imagine they’ll be to connect with you and become another satisfied customer? 

So let’s crack this, here’s exactly what you need to consider when choosing your website host: 

  1. Shared server versus dedicated server. Put simply, this is the difference between your website having its own private suite with all bells and whistles, additional security, etc – versus a Shared Server where you’re bunking in with everyone else on the block. Most clients prefer the sound of Dedicated space, but it comes at a cost and may not be necessary for your website’s needs – always speak with your web developer if you’re not sure on this one. 
  2. What’s included? Here at FAT, we favour Outlook 365 for our email as it works nicely across all our devices – PC and Mac – and makes it easy for us to filter messages directly to the right member of the team. You may prefer your email to come into your host server so you can access it through webmail from anywhere so you need to know if your host supports that. Similarly, visitor statistics reports are included as standard on our hosting packages so you have unrestricted access to see who’s looked at your site, how long they stayed, which pages they viewed, which search engine they used to find you and what they typed in to get there, etc. If this is important to you, you’ll want this as part of your hosting as that’s where it all happens. 
  3. Show me the padlock. With most anti-virus packages now helpfully displaying warnings if a site doesn’t have security built in beside your listing in the search results, that’s an easy way to lower your click rate, so be sure to ask for SSL with your website hosting account. This displays the nice padlock we mentioned earlier and all of the endearing qualities that offers to your potential clients once they’re on your site. Above all else, it’s a mark of trust and as we know, that’s the first step to converting a visitor to a paying customer. 
  4. We need backup! Technically, yes you can download a copy of your own website every night and pop this as a backup onto a disk somewhere safe, but is that the best use of your time? Far better to choose a hosting account with automated, nightly backups – so they’re not happening during the day and potentially slowing your site down for active visitors – and keeping copies of these for a few weeks JUST in case you need to roll back to a previous date for any reason. This is not one you want to learn the hard way! 

Having run my company for over nineteen years now, I’ve lost count of how many approaches I’ve had from hosting companies vying for our business and promising rock solid hosting on their super-reliable servers. Taking the time to fully review all of the points above – plus asking about things like monitoring, alerts and support if anything goes wrong, where the data is physically stored – has shown me that you really do get what you pay for. We now host all of our sites with Amazon Web Services as they offer all of the above and more – but that does mean we’re not the cheapest hosting offering around. 

One client raised this very point with me when we built their ecommerce site a few years ago, in fact they were quite vocal on the subject of the “far cheaper” hosting offering they’d found elsewhere. As one of our core values is to always Start in Service, we were happy to install their newly completed website onto their preferred host server with another provider, just as they requested.  

Two weeks later they were back. 

Turned out that in that short time they had received multiple reports of the website being unavailable when customers were trying to buy. That was bad enough, but after a late-night attempt to “just quickly change something on the website”, the customer had accidentally deleted a whole chunk of their site by mistake – only to find there was no backup. That’s a feeling nobody wants and, now they’re safely hosted with us, they should never experience again. 

The key to choosing the right host for your website is to learn which questions to ask – then don’t be afraid to ask them! Your web developer should be your first port of call but, if they can’t help, reach out and let’s talk about getting your website on a stable footing. Giving you one less thing to think about!