So, you may be thinking, “great, I’m ready to go!”
Not so fast my friend.
Figuring out what kind of hosting service you need is just the first step. Not all hosting companies are created equally and you need to know what to look for when it comes to choosing a web host.
I already mentioned that great web hosting comes down to these four elements: great support, great performance, great security and scalability.
It’s time to talk about what you need from your hosting provider.
In my early days of getting started I leaned on the support team of my hosting provider a lot to figure out where different problems were coming from.
Some providers were great at providing direction and even would roll up their sleeves and help if they had time. Others did not.
There were a couple companies I worked with in my early years that were quick to point out the scope of their service level agreement, and basically told me they wouldn’t help, that the problem was on my side and I needed to talk to my developer.
Not really helpful.
But to be fair, my coding issues aren’t necessarily their problem. I get that.
But on many occasions I didn’t know where the problem was coming from. I didn’t know if the problem was something wrong with my code, something wrong with the way things were set up in the hosting account or if something was going wrong with the actual server I was working with.
All that repeating the service level agreement to me did was insure that I was going to cancel my service with them and find another company that would actually help figure out where the actual problem was coming from.
Some hosting providers are willing to help you track down your issue and get it solved. Others expect a certain level of knowledge on your side to be able to use their service. It’s important to figure out how much help you’re going to need, then see what kind of help the hosting companies that you’re looking at will provide.
Asking for recommendations about providers will help you get an understanding of what kind of service level you can expect. It’s worth it to pay a little more for a company who is dedicated to customer support, rather than be frustrated like I was in my early days and be stuck with a problem you can’t solve.
One of the most important aspects to your hosting service is how fast it’s going to perform. Website speed is such a crucial issue. It’s one of the criteria that Google uses to evaluate your site for good reason.
Slow site load times frustrate users and send them back to search results looking for another answer to their question, and Google does not like that.
Brian Dean from Backlinko, points out that since 2010 “Google has used site speed as an official ranking signal.”
That’s not the only factor, of course, but it’s one that you have control over and that’s why we’re talking about it here.
Visitors to your site want your content to load FAST. Who likes waiting around for a page to load? “I do” said no one ever.
Your host should have a reputation for great performance and speeds. There is a lot that goes in to how fast a page loads, but the important thing to remember here is that you want a hosting provider who has a reputation for great performance and speed.
Any host worth their salt will be quick to tell you about their uptime guarantee. A lot of times you’ll see that guarantee right on their front page.
Reliability and performance are crucial when it comes to choosing your hosting partner. Technology issues are unavoidable for any provider, but you want to make sure that you’ve chosen a host who’s going to be responsive and take performance very seriously.
Having a backup plan in case of emergency is a must-have for all website owners. Not all hosts provide backups with your hosting plan so it’s important that you check and see what options you have.
You also want your hosting provider to make sure it’s staying up to date with the latest versions of the software that it runs on their servers. This means that they have available the latest stable versions of PHP and MySQL and that they have proper security protocols in place on their side.
You also want to have the ability to use a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate. It’s good practice to use an SSL on your site, and it’s also another of Google’s ranking factors.
You’ve launched your website and it’s doing great. You’re getting a steady stream of traffic. You finally get that call to be interviewed on that podcast you’ve been dying to get on and when you do, you nail it. Your traffic to your site jumps significantly, and you start to realize that the hosting plan you started on doesn’t fit.
Your site goes down because you’ve maxed out the resources on your plan, and all that traffic is now disappearing down the drain.
That would suck.
But if you’ve got a host who you can grow with it’s a problem that can be overcome pretty easily.
The hosting company you choose should be able to grow with you. It doesn’t have to provide all the different kinds of services that I mentioned above, but it should give you a clear path as your site grows and have a way for you to grow with them.
Eventually you may have to migrate your site to another kind of service altogether. If you’ve got a good hosting company they can help you lay out the road map and what you’ll need to do to get there.