How to choose the right web hosting for a website is a conversation that I often have with my website clients and students. Since I started building websites back in 2009, I have used just about all the major web hosts at one time or another, either for my own sites or the ones that I was building, managing, or search engine optimizing for my customers.
Like many things, online these days, trying to make a decision by comparing these different companies can be difficult. Most web hosts promise similar things but say them in different ways making it hard to get an even standard of measure to use in evaluating which one is best suited for your website. There are many different web hosting companies that are good, and overall most larger companies will have a fairly good hosting package for you, but that being said, there are some very important factors that I have found to be critical to the success of your blog or website both now and in the future.
Important Factors For Choosing A Web Hosting Company
I am listing customer service and support as the number one factor because, to me, this is one of the most critical parts of what I am paying for with a web host. As your site grows, this becomes more and more important. Imagine if your site was down and you were unable to contact people at the web host to help you? Having your site down for any time at all becomes a much larger issue when it is your sole source of income. When choosing a web host, be sure you check to see that they have various ways you can contact them 24/7, such as live chat, toll-free phone, email ticketing, etc. You also want to be sure that when you do contact them that they will be able to help you find the solution to your problem quickly. Lastly, something that was a great help to me in the early days of my website building and management career is that some hosts will even move your websites for you if you are switching to their hosting services from a different host or upgrading to a higher hosting package with them.
When evaluating a hosting company for technical specifications, the first step is to look closely at the website that you are moving or intending to create. It is important to look at what it is now and also what you want it to grow into in the future. Different hosting companies specialize in different things. If you are building a WordPress website, then there will be some companies who specialize in that, and if you are wanting to have a robust e-commerce site built on the Magento platform, then other companies will be able to address the unique needs of a site like that. It isn’t necessary to go to a web host that specializes in a small niche only, but it can be worth looking into in some cases. The most important thing, as mentioned before, is to look at your site and understand what it needs now and in the future and be sure the web host you choose has those options available for you.
Room for Growth
Having a clear long-term goal for your website is vital in choosing a web host company that can grow with you or allow your site to move up from one level of service to another easily to meet its growing needs. Most websites that are just starting out will only need the basic hosting pack available just about anywhere, but once the site starts to grow, you will be very glad that you looked into this beforehand. More than once, I have been working on websites for my customers who had the site built on the cheapest hosting they could find. Not only was it much harder to move the site to a new host because there just weren’t the right options for growth with the original host, but what they didn’t know was that for every dollar they saved by using a cheap host, they probably lost many more every day because their site was down often and had a lot of variability in the speed that the site would load. This can be detrimental to your ranking in search engines like Google too.
I will mention price briefly for one simple point; the most expensive web hosting is not always the best or the right choice for your site. There are several different web hosts that I often recommend that are quite inexpensive, but I have found them to have poor customer service and support. What I’m looking for personally and for my customers is a high level of customer service, room to grow, and all at a reasonable price point.
Another option that I highly recommend is a management tool called cPanel. It is a piece of software that your web server runs on and is used to manage your hosting account. cPanel is included with some web hosting companies and is available for an extra charge at others. If you can, always use the cPanel option; it makes managing your site more convenient, makes backing up your data easier, and even moving or upgrading your website much more simple and reliable as well.
Choosing A Web Host Checklist
So based on my personal experience, here is my basic checklist for selecting the right web hosting company for your website:
- Customer Service – The most important thing is good support anytime you need it.
- Tech Specs – Look at what you need now and will need, find a host to match.
- Room For Growth – Make sure your host will have room to grow as your site grows.
- cPanel – Makes managing your website easier and more dependable
- Price – Look for the best of the above aspects at the most reasonable price, the most expensive is not always the best.
- CDN – If you can afford it, be sure your web host has a CDN (content delivery network) for faster speed all over the globe.
- Price – Speed is a big deal and is worth the extra cost if you can swing it, make sure your new host can provide some speed boosting; server-side caching is best.