For businesses big and small, your online presence starts with your website. Your website is like your digital storefront – where you welcome customers and prospects in the door. But to get your digital storefront operating, you need website hosting. It’s like the lease you would sign on that storefront – it gets you up and operating so customers can search for you and find you on the internet.
What is Website Hosting?
Website hosting is how your business shares your website on the internet so your customers can view it and visit. This is done through a web hosting service.
Websites on the internet are accessed via their servers. When you visited ContentFirst.Marketing’s site, you are first connected to our server, and then our website appeared in your browser. Without website hosting, your business website is just an inaccessible page. Web hosting is the technology that lets your site be accessed, and function properly. Your website host provides all of this for you, unless you choose to control your own servers through dedicated hosting.
Website hosting providers usually require that you own the domain where your website is built. You can buy the domain from them sometimes, or purchase it through a domain purchasing site and use that with your web host.
Website hosting services also usually offer various levels of support and security to keep your website safe and functional. They’re mostly invisible to your prospects and customers, but they’re absolutely essential to your business website.
Choosing a Website Hosting Plan
There are a few types of website hosting plans. Which hosting plan is right for you depends on the type of business you run, and what kind of traffic you expect your website to get. It also depends on your budget, as costs vary widely depending on the option you choose.
Shared hosting is affordable and basic. You share a server with other businesses and websites, so the cost is low. This option is best for small businesses who don’t get much web traffic or beginning bloggers.
Virtual private server hosting
Virtual private server hosting (VPS) is still technically a type of shared server, but it mimics having a whole server to yourself. It can be a good balance of price and function for small businesses who are growing.
Dedicated server hosting
Having your own dedicated servers is one of the priciest options. You will have plenty of server capacity and full control over your security, systems, and everything else. But you’ll need a dedicated team member (or whole team) to manage your dedicated hosting for you.
This is a newer option where several separate servers operate like one big server. It allows server space to grow as needed, meaning you can get more space as your website traffic grows. If you’re starting small but expecting big website growth, this is an option worth exploring.
Hosting Tips for Your Website
Once you’ve decided which hosting plan is right for you, the search for the right host begins. You’ll want to take stock of what else you need from a website host in addition to just server space. Do you want managed hosting, where your web host takes care of managing your server for you? Do you want your plan to include your domain name, or will you purchase that separately? And do they include email accounts for your business? Is there a support team on hand to fix any issues, or are you on your own when something breaks?
There are dozens of website hosts out there of varying quality, so do your research carefully. There are a few free options but it’s worth paying to ensure your site is always operational and professional. You don’t want to risk missing out on sales because of a poorly managed website.
What Your Web Host Should Provide
There are quite a few offerings that various web hosting providers include with a hosting account. Many of the more-specific ones may or may not work for your business. But there are a few basics you should expect to get from your web hosting provider.
The most popular website creation tool is Wordpress. How popular is it? Well, more than 25% of all websites in the world are Wordpress websites. You will probably want to use Wordpress yourself for your business website. Your hosting provider should tell you right away if they’re compatible with Wordpress.
Most hosting providers require you to have your own domain name, whether you purchase it through them or through another site. You should look for a web host that allows you to set up your own email accounts with your domain name (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org), which looks professional for your business.
With so many hosting providers out there, you want to be sure you choose one for your business that offers plenty of support. You want to select one that might have 24/7 technician support in case something goes wrong with your site. And if your site just needs general help and troubleshooting, you’ll benefit from a strong support team that can identify and fix the issue for you.
This is especially essential if you’re building your business website yourself and don’t have your own IT support person like many small businesses. Any number of things can affect the functionality of your website. As a business owner, you have plenty of other things on your plate – you probably don’t want to spend it wrestling with technical website problems. You want to be able to get those issues fixed before they affect your sales too.
At ContentFirst.Marketing, we design and build business websites for people just like you every day. We recommend using Amazon Web Services for your hosting account – one of the biggest and most trusted names in the business. Need help setting up your business website or web hosting, optimizing your site for search engine traffic, or anything else? Schedule your free business review today and we can start setting you on the path to measurable growth.