SEO training for SMEsChoosing the best host for your website is more important than you think. Your website is the key point in your marketing. It’s the one thing in your marketing toolbox you should have complete control over. So you need to choose wisely!

Here is our summary of the main points you should consider when choosing a hosting package:

  1. Know what you need
  2. Check reliability/up-time
  3. Make sure you can upgrade your package if you need to
  4. Can you add other domain names or email addresses?
  5. What are the sign-up AND the renewal costs?
  6. How easy is it to cancel the account?
  7. Does it have e-commerce capability?
  8. What are the limitations?
  9. Is there a real live human you can speak to for support?

That was your quick check list. In a little more detail:

Know what you need.

Understanding what you actually need in a hosting package over what you think sounds good can save you truck loads of money! Don’t be tempted to buy that super duper, whizzbang package because your mate has it or it sounds just fabulous. Only buy what you actually need.

Check Reliability/up-time.

Make sure the company you choose offers a 99.9% up-time guarantee. Look on the internet for independent reviews. Ask business friends who they use and if they are happy with the service they currently receive. Recommendations are generally a bit safer than finger in the air decisions.

Make sure you can upgrade your package if you need to.

What you need today may be very different to your needs this time next year. Make sure there is the option to upgrade your package should you need it and that if your website becomes really popular that the hosting service can cope with the increased traffic.

Can you add other domain names or email addresses?

Some hosting packages allow a single email address (or none at all) and a single domain name. You may want to consider choosing a package that comes with the ability to add other domain names and have multiple email addresses (at least 5 would be my choice). This gives you some wiggle room and a small bit of expansion without the extra cost.

What are the sign-up AND the renewal costs?

What are the real costs of the hosting package? Sign up costs can be a lot cheaper than renewal costs. Look at the longer term cost of that package. It may be cheaper to pay more in the short term to improve the overall costs. Chances are you will be owning this website for at least the next 2 years!

How easy is it to cancel the account?

Just because everything is rosy today doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Many small business owners find themselves needing to move their website to another company quickly for lots of reasons – the main one being absolutely pants support! How easy will it be to cancel the account? How much will that cost? Can your website be moved quickly, easily and cheaply to another host? Looking into this now will save you a ton of headaches in the future.

Does it have e-commerce capability?

If you intend to sell products directly from your website then your hosting package needs to be capable of supporting e-commerce. Make sure that what you are choosing is suitable to host your e-shop and can cope with the traffic.

What are the limitations?

What limits will be placed on your account? Is there a bandwidth limit that will prevent high numbers of visitors popping by? What if your traffic grows over night – can you increase the limits? What is the cost, if any, of increased bandwidth?

Is there a real live human you can speak to for support?

Don’t overlook this one. Knowing how you can get support before you need it is really important. If your website goes offline in the middle of a Monday afternoon is there somebody you can talk with to get it back up quickly? This is where choosing a company that has support based in your country helps – they are on the same timezone that you are! There are still companies that will only answer issues via an email or ticket system – finding somebody to talk to can be near impossible. Having a human to talk with means that somebody in the that company has taken responsibility for your issue! That is the best way to get it resolved!

Summary

It is never an easy choice, especially if you aren’t really into IT. Talking to other people who already have a website is always worth the time. Do remember that you need to own your website. Some of the cheap/free, build your own website, style packages mean you never own your website and if you need to move then you have to start from scratch. I would always recommend investing a little real money in a proper hosting solution. If you are really unsure about which host to choose then find a reliable, local web designer.  Most web designers will give you a recommendation based on their experience. If you want our opinion on a particular hosting company then please drop us an email!