How to Choose a Web hosting service

You’ve selected a name and have your business plan together. Now it’s time to get your website online. But which host do you choose?

This is the most common challenge for small business owners. The web hosting industry is incredibly competitive and they will do anything to get your attention.

Don’t get tricked into their traps (I see you – 3 year lock in plan Bluehost!). In my guide, I’ll walk you through the things you need to consider when choosing a web hosting service as a small business.

Your Business Objective

By far, the most important factor in selecting a host is first identifying what the purpose of your website will be.

Will you be optimizing for keywords and SEO traffic or will the website be generating leads for a local service? These decisions upfront will help you narrow down your choices.

For example, if you are writing for traffic, it doesn’t make sense to get Siteground’s “StartUp” tier that caps at 10k visitors per month. Once you hit this limit, your website will no longer be able to receive traffic.

Instead, look for hosts that will keep your website active even after the limit has been hit. You can find out by emailing their customer service.

example pricing tier for Siteground web hosting
example pricing tier for Siteground web hosting that has a 10k visitor limit per month

Another example. If it is business critical that your website never goes offline for even a few minutes, you’ll want to look for features like “99% uptime” – this is code for, we have backups of backups to make sure they kick in when the power goes out.

WPX hosting professional tier
WPX guarantees 99% uptime

Now that you know your objective let’s get into the types of hosting

  • Shared Hosting – this is the most common for smaller businesses. It’s like sharing an apartment building with other tenants. You’re all on the same server or set of servers and the bandwidth is shared.
  • Dedicated hosting – this is like owning your own home. You have full control, but of course, it is more expensive.
  • VPS hosting – this is like the best of both worlds where you share some resources, but have some flexibility.

Hosting Types

Here’s a table breakdown

TypeProsCons
SharedAffordable, beginner-friendlyLimited resources, slower performance
DedicatedFull control, high performance, securityExpensive, requires technical skills
VPSBalanced cost and resources, customizableMore expensive than shared, some maintenance
CloudScalable, reliable, pay-as-you-go pricingComplex setup, variable costs
Each type has its own pros and cons

Customer Support

When it comes to hosting, nothing beats a good technical customer support team. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve created a helpdesk ticket only to come back and see the host actually just did the work for me.

However, not all hosting brands are created equal. If you just go with the least expensive host, you are giving up this level of service most likely.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to know if customer support is good without actually using the service or asking for help. It is a bit of trial and error or you can consider posting on Reddit to get a sense from other users.

subreddit r/webshosting screenshot
reddit can be a great source of crowd sourced q&a

Which leads me to the next tip..

Don’t purchase multi-year plans

This is the mistake I see happening over and over where businesses will purchase 36 months of web hosting because the per-month cost is so attractive (read: dirt cheap).

This is a trick! Don’t fall for it.

While moving hosting can be a pain, it isn’t worse than abandoning a host that you paid hundreds of dollars for upfront and can no longer use after 6 months because your business needs change.

To avoid this, never purchase hosting for more than 12 months at a time. This also lets you take advantage of annual deal seasons.

Black Friday Deals

We all know Black Friday is an incredible time for computer deals and furniture you’ve been eyeing all year, but did you know Web Hosts also get in on the deal action?

the checkout pricing for WPX hosting during black friday in 2024
Black Friday Deal for WPX hosting

Saving 25% off on the first year for a good host can go a long way. It makes it easier on the budget and 12 months is enough time for me to see if WPX is a good host or not.

So if you can wait until November each year, this might be a good plan to save some money.

Site Speed

You’ll want to consider site speed if your website needs to load fast. While technically we all want our sites to load fast, it is especially important if most of your revenue comes from website leads.

For example, if you are running ads on your website, you need each page to load fast so visitors will stay on as long as possible.

Running site speed tests is incredibly time-consuming so luckily the folks at Theme Isle have already done a comprehensive test that you can review for the fastest web hosting companies. (heads up, their report is full of affiliate links).

Auto Backup Services

You don’t need to have the web host do this for you, but it sure is nice when they can do weekly or even daily backups as part of the hosting plan. I would say this is a nice to have.

You can also install your own backup plugins (all in one migration or updraft are two good options).

Having at least a regular backup plan can relieve a lot of stress while running a business. At least you know you can always roll back if something catastrophic happens.

Pricing

The right price is the one that checks all your business objective boxes and still fits within budget.

If you can opt for the annual deal, go for it, but otherwise, go monthly.

On average, you can expect to pay $2.50 to $30 per month depending on the features you need. Anything above that is likely overkill at this time until your business scales.

That’s it

That’s it? Don’t I need to worry about this and that..

No, this is it.

For the vast majority of new websites, you don’t need to worry about anything else.

Best of luck. You can chat with me here in discord if you have questions.

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