Whether you’re launching a new business or redesigning your website, looking for a host is part of the process. Though many people don’t realize it, a web host has a significant impact on your search rankings and customer retention rates. If your website is slow and unresponsive, people aren’t going to want to use it. And if people aren’t using it, it won’t look very good to Google. Not to mention, Google gives slow sites a soft penalty, which will also hurt your rankings.
In this post, we discuss how to choose the best host for your website so that you won’t be left disappointed.
Determine Host Type
Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of hosting types available. Assuming that you’re running an online business and care about search engine optimization, you’re going to boil down the list to three main types:
Virtual private server
Shared web host
Let’s take a closer look at these three host types so that you can determine which is best for your business.
Dedicated web hosts are the most robust option because an entire physical server location is dedicated to your business. You don’t share your hardware with anyone, and any data or software on the server is entirely yours. This means that you can choose what operating system is used, what bandwidth limits are applied and more. Reliability comes with a cost, however, so you can expect this option to be most expensive. Large corporations can usually handle the cost, but smaller businesses can’t. Luckily, small businesses don’t typically need such a robust option anyway.
Virtual private servers utilize a single server hardware installation and run several virtual machines on the hardware. Your business then leases one of these machines. You do have a lot of control over the software used and the data security, which is nice. That said, you are more limited in the operating system and configuration because there are others using the server hardware. This option is less expensive and a better fit for smaller businesses, but do keep in mind it has its limitations. Since several virtual servers run on the same hardware and share similar IP addresses, it can cause SEO problems if those other addresses are spam sites.
Shared hosts are another host type for smaller businesses because they are the least expensive. They work in the same way as VPS, but there is no virtual operating system that is running in a separate environment. All this really means is that there are more limitations to your configurations and software. You can also run into the problem of sharing a similar IP address with spam sites. However, shared hosts are still a great, dependable option for smaller businesses.
Know What You’re Getting
When making the decision for a host, you will need to know what the different terminology means. Some will be more important to your business than others. Let’s take a look.
Bandwidth: Your bandwidth is the amount of data that can be downloaded from the server within a certain time period. It’s best to have a high cap or unlimited connection.
Operating System (OS): Your OS will most likely be Linux or Windows. Linux is cheaper and has more configuration options, but Windows is better if you rely on Windows-only applications.
IP Address: You will be sharing an IP address with other sites, unless you pay for a dedicated server. It’s highly important to make sure that the IP range is not affiliated with spam sites. Google can’t recognize a quality site that is independent of its host, so you’ll be brought down with the worst of them.
Server Physical Location: It’s ideal to choose a web host located near your physical business location. At the very least, select a domestic host over one located overseas. It’s better for connection speed and geo-targeting features.
Server Uptime: The more time your site spends down, the more it will affect SEO and customer retention. Check out reviews to get a better idea of how much uptime the host has. Most say 100%, but do your research to know for sure.
Search Visibility: Any hosted website is automatically visible to search, so don’t let the feature sway you one way or the other.
Site Builder Included: Sorry, but if you want success in SEO, you won’t be using any free site builder tools. You will be paying for professional web design.
Research Customer Reviews
Lucky for you, you don’t have to close your eyes and pick the best host from your narrowed-down search. You can search for online reviews to get a better idea of which host is best. Our only word of caution is to look for real customer feedback rather than paid reviews.
The best way to get accurate feedback is by running Google searches. Search on web forums and discussion boards to get a better idea of the positives and negatives that people have experienced with the web host. This is a great way to learn about how much downtime a web host has, which IP neighborhoods to stay out of and more. You can also search for web hosts along with negative keywords such as “terrible” or “unreliable.” If you find that the web host is paired with a lot of negative experiences, you know to steer clear of it.
Make Your Decision
The last step is choosing a web host for your needs. You won’t find a perfect web host, as not everyone is going to be a happy customer. You know this from being a business yourself. And if you’re a new startup – you’ll soon learn. Choose a web host based on how well it fits your needs and budget as well as the overall number of happy customers it has. As long as there aren’t persistent problems coming up (downtime, hackings, losses, penalties), you should be just fine with the host you select.