5 Factors for Businesses to Consider Before Selecting a Web Host

Mon, May 21, 2012


One can hardly operate a business in the real world these days without having an online component, at least not if they want to compete in their particular field. Sure you can use old-school methods of advertising (print, radio, TV) in your area to attract local business, and you can certainly list your number in the yellow pages. But the truth is that most modern consumers are going to find you first online, so it behooves you to have a welcoming website waiting to greet them. And you can start by finding a web host that will make the online extension of your business the best it can be. Here are just a few things you’ll want to consider before you agree to a contract.

  1. Speed. You’ve probably gone to web sites where the pages take forever to load. How patient were you? In this era of instant gratification, people pay a lot for DSL, cable modems, or even T1 lines that are going to ensure a speedy connection. But it goes two ways; if the connection on the other end isn’t as fast, your customers will be left twiddling their thumbs (or more likely, moving on to the next site listed on their Google search). So make sure that your web host has the bandwidth (or better yet, multiple connections with a variety of bandwidth providers) to ensure that you always have speed on your side.
  2. Reliability. Even worse than pages that come with lengthy load times are those that end a customer’s wait with a message that reads “page not found”. An unreliable service that experiences frequent, extended, and largely unscheduled down time is detrimental to your business in two ways. First and foremost, it’s upsetting to your customers (both loyal and prospective). Most won’t return if they can’t be connected to your site the first time around. The second problem, however, could be even more damaging. If web crawlers from search engines can’t access your site you could lose your ranking on Google, Bing, and other search engines, meaning that people who are doing targeted searches for your type of business will find your competitors instead of you.
  3. Storage options. A good web hosting service will offer you plenty of options when it comes to storage packages. Many now offer cloud hosting, which generally opens the door to website expansion. But you also need to make sure that you’re not going to be penalized for upgrading to more space after the fact (once you have a contract in place).
  4. Cost. For most businesses, this consideration is of paramount importance. Every dollar counts and you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your money. So skip services that push “unlimited” plans (for storage). They’re more expensive and you will likely never need the amount of space they’re offering. Look for services that offer a variety of package deals and the flexibility to change at any time; the alternative is a web host that will nickel-and-dime you to death.
  5. Security. Most businesses (especially those with online stores) want to ensure that the web host they select will take great pains to keep their customers’ personal information safe and secure. So look for a site that offers PCI compliant hosting (essential for any site that takes credit cards).
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