Whether you do your business exclusively online or you have a small physical location, a great website is pertinent for attracting brand awareness, sales, and customers.
The very first step in producing a website is finding a web host. There are dozens of options available, all claiming to be better than their competitors.
Each service offers extras that “put them ahead of the pack,” but can you believe them? Which hosting service is really the best for your small business?
Criteria for Choosing Web Hosting
The first step in making this decision is to consider all of the criteria. By understanding what your company needs and what web hosting services are, you’ll have an easier time making the best decision for your business.
#1. Understand Your Needs
As mentioned above, you must define your unique business necessities. You might ask yourself some of the following questions:
- – What is the main purpose of this website?
- – Will you be looking to grow your business in the future and need a web host that can support that?
- – Are there certain budget restrictions that you must consider?
- – Do you have someone who will build your website for you, or are you trying to build it yourself?
- – Will you need tech support that’s available 24/7?
- – Will the web host meet your uptime and recovery standards?
- – Does it have the security you need for ecommerce?
As you answer each of these questions, you’ll build a list of criteria that you can’t do without.
#2. Must Be Compatible
Most hosting options are compatible with website builders and networks, but you still want to check before signing up. Most importantly, you’ll want to look for a host that offers a Unix-based system that runs the Apache web server, include Linux, FreeBSD, or OpenBSD. This isn’t the only option for compatibility with web development, but it’s the most common, and you’ll run into far fewer compatibility issues with this system because most web-based software runs on the same system.
#3. Explore Extra Features
By checking out any extra features, you’ll be able to define what makes one web hosting service better than another. In general, extra features are upsells that aren’t entirely necessary for a functioning site. However, they can often make things run a little smoother and ease facilitation processes. These extra features might include things like energy-saving practices, multiple data centers, more attractive layouts, extra security, regular backups, and other features that can set one web host apart from another.
First, compare the free features available. You don’t want a service that will cost an extra $100 per month to run efficiently because of extra features. All the basic extras like security, data backup, and admin privacy should be free or very cheap. This isn’t a matter of cutting costs on your part, but rather a service that every web host seeker deserves.
#4. Consider Costs
Budget restrictions are a top concern for small businesses. Fortunately, there are many options for budget-friendly web hosting. That being said, you shouldn’t simply choose the cheapest option. Oftentimes, dirt-cheap web hosting services don’t offer essential features like non-outsourced support, top-of-the-line security, and quality hardware. Money spent on a terrible product is money down the drain.
Use your list of criteria to identify your top options. Don’t look at the price tag; just examine the available features. Once that’s done, take a look at the prices and choose the best product that fits your budget.
#5. Tech Support Availability
If you’re like the majority of small businesses out there, you don’t have a tech department, and you’re not the most tech savvy. Choosing a web hosting service with excellent tech support should be high on your list of priorities. With a single phone call, you should be able to get customized answers regarding things like login problems or errors with the server.
Good tech support is available 24/7. With a business, you can’t afford to have your business go down at night and not be able to fix it because the host’s tech support doesn’t come in until 8:00 a.m. There should also be multiple forms of contact for tech support, including email, a toll-free phone number, and online chat.
Additionally, double check that the hosting service doesn’t outsource their support. With outsourcing, it’s much more likely that representatives won’t understand your problems, creating time-consuming and frustrating issues for you.
#6. Uptime Scores
Uptime refers to the reliability of the server. Nothing is more important in ecommerce sales and your brand’s image than having a website that functions constantly. Unfortunately, not all web hosting services have good uptime scores. You need web hosting that will operate on powerful servers with an uptime score of 99.5 percent or above. Avoid anything less than 99 percent.
#7. Top Web Hosting Services
Now that you’ve figured out your top criteria, it’s time to look at some of the top web hosting services available to small businesses. Most of the hosting services on this list have been pre-screened for things like excellent tech support, built-in features, cost, and reputation. Hundreds of thousands of businesses rely on these brands for great web hosting, and you can use your list of criteria to compare and contrast the services listed below.
- Bluehost: This is one of the oldest hosting services since it’s been around for 20 years. Bluehost is the “official” recommendation from WordPress (the most popular website platform) because they offer all the basic features with excellent support. It’s currently the number one rated web hosting service for small businesses.
- HostGator: Next up is HostGator, which hosts more than 8 million domains. It’s not the oldest, but it’s among the most popular, especially for its one-click installation options. It has great support and a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee.
- SiteGround: Another highly rated and popular hosting service is SiteGround, which earns its reputation from its speed and security. It’s also one of the most affordable options for businesses on a budget. If you want to check out more of it’s features, check out our review of SiteGround vs. Bluehost.
- InMotion Hosting: There have been countless awards for InMotion’s technical support, making them a huge user favorite. They also offer 99.9 percent uptime, always a crowd pleaser.
- DreamHost: For the last 18 years, DreamHost has made hosting easy for small business owners with one-click installations, automatic updates, unlimited space and bandwidth, and impressive speed.
- AccuWeb: AccuWeb is a fantastic web hosting service. Check out our AccuWeb hosting review for more information.
Carefully considering your hosting options and the criteria needed for successful hosting will help your business grow and remain competitive. When you can rely on a great server to carry your website, you’ll be in line for steady business and a better reputation.