Your Web Hosting Provider Is Your Online Partner.
The web hosting company you choose to store your web site and provide access to the world wide web SHOULD be your friend – your business partner. In fact, your web host SHOULD put your interests first. After all, if your web business soars to success, your web host shares in that success with a stable client base.
If you’re hitting a home run with your URL, you aren’t going anywhere. You’ll stick with the host, the keywords, the site architecture – you won’t want to change. You’re a web success so don’t rock the boat.
Ah, but how do you know if your web host is truly your friend or just a service provider that charges your business credit card every three months. It’s not always easy to tell, but you can tell a lot by looking around a little before you sign up.
1. How long has the hosting company been around?
Look for a long history of web-based success. Look for a company that’s been delivering hosting services for more than 10 years and has management in place to handle an expanding client base efficiently.
A provider that looks after its clients sticks around and a company management with years of experience knows how to treat clients. They even know how to help clients achieve web success – something good for the client and good for the host – a win-win.
And good management knows that.
2. Does the web host kick you to more expensive pricing tier to get more disk space?
You rent disk space from your provider. Most hosts have pricing tiers based on the amount of disk space you take up on the server ( a server is nothing more than a big ol’ hard drive that has a bunch of web sites stored on it) and what “features” you’re willing to pay for.
Some hosts think it’s unfair to force you to pay more for space and features that you don’t need or intend to use. So, many top hosts have created a system that allows you to grow at your own pace without paying for a few more gigabytes that you won’t use, even though you’re paying an extra $50 a year for that dead zone.
Instead, buy space a gig at a time. And when it IS time to move up big time, you move to the next tier and actually save money. A good web host knows what’s good for web site owners, and these hosts customize their services to suit you, not the other way around.
So grow fast. Grow slow. A good provider will work with you every step of the way. The less-friendly providers don’t do this. You want more disk space, you move up to the next pricing tier, whether you need all that extra space or not. In other words, you’re wasting cash and when you’ve got a “penny jar” budget, every penny counts.
3. Does your web host offer free SSL security?
If you’re selling products or services, or if you’re collecting sensitive customer data (like credit card numbers) you need a secure web site – one that sends and receives data that’s encrypted so hackers can’t steal it and use it to buy and sell stolen stuff bought on the web.
A web host that DOESN’T much care about the success of your business will make you obtain your own SSL certification to create a secure web site capable of taking and keeping secure sensitive client data. And that costs money.
On the other hand, a web host that’s rooting for your success helps you achieve that success by letting you piggyback on their SSL certification. Your server is secure so your site is secure, thanks to a friendly web host and a pro-active partner in your success.
4. Does your web host require you to sign a long-term contract?
That tells you something right there. These companies want to lock you in for three months, six months, a year, knowing that you might not hit that home run. Even so, you’ll be paying those hosting fees for the full term of the contract.
If your web host is your friend – a partner that delivers value – there’s no need for a long-term contract. No need for any contract at all. Buy your server space and your features a month at a time. As you grow, you can add more space. Or, if you move on to something else, a client centric host isn’t going to FORCE you to keep paying for services you no longer need.
What kind of friend is that?
5. Real People Helping Real People
If you’re just starting out in the web world and launching your first e-venture, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone you could call with questions? Someone with endless patience? Someone who recognizes that your web success is the basis of the web host’s success?
And you want access to that friend, or a friendly, helpful sub, 24/7. You want someone to explain how to install a blog or to walk you through installing a secure checkout – one-step-at-a-time, even if it takes all night. (it won’t.)
A provider that wants to be friends offers that level of service for as little as seven bucks a month! Web hosts that are less “friendly” limit access to certain hours, they make you pay for the call and some don’t even have telephone customer or tech support. If you have a question or problem, you have to drop the web hosting company an e-mail and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, your web site isn’t getting built and your waiting for a long-distance email response from tech support – and guaranteed, 50% of the time the email answer doesn’t solve the problem.
Do a little research before you register your web site domain name and sign a long-term contract. Any new venture is a risk so work with a company that puts you first, answers questions (even the really stupid ones), provides downloadable guides to help you build and manage a quality web site.
Is your provider your friend? Well, not if they nickel-and-dime you to death. Not if they sell your email address to every “blue pill” pharmacy west of Beijing. Not if they lock you into a contract for a year.
With friends like these, who needs enemies?
6. Everything You Need
A good friend will give you what you need to achieve your objectives.
Some web hosts rent you some disk space and leave the rest up to you. Other, friendlier web hosts, provide a tool box that’s filled with free apps and services:
- web site building software
- 1000s of customizable site templates so (1) you don’t have to know diddly about programming and (2) because these templates are customizable, they don’t look like cookie cutter web sites
- free shopping cart and checkout
- free payment gateways
- free blog modules, forum mods and bulletin boards so you create the exact web site to suit the needs of your visitors and your needs.
- security and a ton of it. A friendly web host wants to protect your sensitive client data as much as you do
- 100% up time because when your server is down your business is down. Not very friendly.
7. Would a good friend leave you high and dry?
There are lots of web hosts from which to choose. Some are host resellers who buy disk space at wholesale and sell it at retail. So you don’t REALLY know who’s hosting your site.
Some of these less-than-best-friends are in the business of collecting client data and splitting for the coast. You log on to your site one morning and it’s gone. For good.
In the middle of the night, while you were sleeping, your friendly web host closed up shop took down the server and now has all of your client data that they can sell on hacker sites.
Happens all the time. A quality host is here today, here tomorrow and here for years to come. Now that’s a good friend.
8. Does your friendly web host put you first in all things?
This is a question of corporate culture. There are web hosts who are in it for the short term (see #7) and web hosts who recognize that your success is the basis for the web hosting company’s success so you always come first.
These web hosts deliver quality services, 100% uptime, a toll-free number and a human to help you with questions. These hosts provide all the tools you need to build a web site and the human touch – a person to walk you through the process – even if it takes hours (it never does when you have knowledgeable techies and customer support personnel who are empowered by company management to fix things so you’re happy.)
It starts at the top with a client-centric view of business growth – your business growth and the business growth of the hosting service. It’s built into the corporate culture. It’s simply the way the web host does business.
So, before you start your on-line businesses, do the research, the legwork, the heavy lifting to find a web host that’s going to be your friend and partner in the week, months and years ahead.
My best web host tip is definitely SiteGround.com