So you’ve finally decided to take your business online? Congrats!
Along with selecting a website designer and domain name, you have one more major decision to make: Selecting a Hosting Provider.
While it may be tempting to just go for the cheapest price, you can actually be hurting your bottom line.
That’s because who you choose for your Hosting Provider will affect the User Experience of your Customers. It will also affect your website’s speed, which will hurt your chances of getting noticed in Search Engines.
So here is a concise, essential list of 5 things you need to look for in a Hosting Provider.
1. SSD Hosting
SSD stands for “Solid State Drive”. Many newer laptops and PC’s are migrating to this technology.
While this technology is slowly starting to come down in price, many current, and most older PC’s still use traditional hard-disk drives.
A traditional hard disk is a rotating magnetic disc used to store information. Due the mechanical nature of this drive, and the fact that it can only read a limited amount of information at a time, hard disks are much slower than SSD’s for accessing data.
An SSD is similar in construction to your computer’s RAM, or the storage that is found on cell phones. It has no moving parts, and is instantly accessible.
The point is, hosting your website on a Provider that uses SSD’s will contribute to a noticeable speed increase in your page loading times.
Not only will your customers appreciate that, but Google and other Search Engines will reward you with a higher Page Rank for having a speedy site.
2. Included SSL Certificate
Having your site run on SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology ensures a much higher level of security for your visitors. SSL will encrypt your data making it next to impossible for hackers to gain access to it.
If you’re running an E-Commerce site, having SSL is an absolute requirement. But even if you’re not selling anything online, you need SSL.
Your site looks way more legit to customers. And, the Scribes over at Google will rank sites with SSL, higher than those without it.
Since many Hosting Providers are now offering SSL as a standard part of their packages for no extra cost, there is no reason not to have it.
There are a myriad of reasons why your site may unexpectedly go offline. It could be that your theme, or one of your plugins, were incompatible with a new CMS update. Or malicious code could have been injected via a security loophole.
Either way, you want to have the peace of mind that comes with having automated, regular backups. This means you can easily restore your site to how it was at an earlier point in time. So if the unthinkable does happen, you’re covered.
Many web design agencies offer backups as part of a comprehensive Maintenance Program. But having it included as a part of your Hosting Package means that’s one less thing you need to worry about.
Basic fact: Some Hosting Providers are more reputable than others.
With the advent of whitelabel hosting services, many web agencies are getting in on the Hosting game to try to add a form of recurring revenue to their business. And for the majority of these companies, that’s a great idea.
Unfortunately, there are a number out there that fail to offer the ability to directly manage your website by means of a Control Panel of some kind, the most popular of which is cPanel.
This means that anytime you wanted to needed to access your site’s CMS or file system to make any changes, you wouldn’t be able to (without contacting Support). Often, this level of direct control is needed in order to troubleshoot various issues and bugs that can crop up, especially with WordPress sites.
I personally won’t even work with clients that don’t have a hosting provider with cPanel access.
If your hosting provider doesn’t offer cPanel, or a direct alternative, simply run away.
Hosting providers that are on top of their game will feature server-level security, such as a firewall and network monitoring processes that keep harmful traffic away from your site.
Web servers run on different code than your browser or Home PC, but they too need Antivirus and Anti-Malware software to keep hackers at bay.
Another often-overlooked item that is essential to keeping your website secure, is regular updates.
Servers run on applications such as PHP, MySQL, and Ruby. These are evolving languages and applications that should always be updated to their current version.
The rationale behind this, is that the longer a version of an application has been widely available, the more time that gives hackers to try to figure out how to exploit its security vulnerabilities.
Again, most reputable hosting providers will keep their servers up-to-date with the latest versions available.
Did I miss something on this list? Let me know in the comments below!