Starting an online business is no easy feat.
There are SEO campaigns to consider, social media managers to hire, and online payment platforms to implement.
Yet there is also one crucial aspect that outweighs the rest: choosing a suitable web hosting company.
With so much competition out there – 1.8 billion websites and counting – it’s now more important than ever to ensure your web host of choice is as fast, reliable, and cost-effective as possible.
If not, you’ll simply get left behind.
But unless you’re an expert in the field, how can you tell who’s hot and who’s not?
This article will teach you seven common pitfalls to avoid when contracting a web hosting company.
Thinking a Free Hosting Service Will Do
To save money, it may be tempting to contemplate a free hosting service like WordPress. After all, your business is just starting out and your requirements are minuscule.
Don’t fall into that trap.
While free web hosting services are a hit with personal bloggers and social media influencers across the world, you’ll need to contract a paid host if you want to make any real money online.
“You’ve got to spend money to make money,” as the old saying goes.
But you don’t have to spend a whole lot. iPage, for example, is offering an introductory package at less than half the price of a cup of coffee every month.
So what exactly is wrong with free hosting? Some of the many downsides include:
- Slow speeds and unreliable network uptimes with non-existent customer service.
- Plastering your website with third-party advertisements, many of which are of a highly questionable nature.
- Losing consumer trust in your brand. If you don’t want to pay the nominal fee for a domain, who is going to have faith in your product?
- No top-level domain with most of these free plans, which diminishes your credibility.
We’re not here to tell you WordPress is bad. In fact, there’s a good reason it has become the biggest content management system in the world.
Just be sure to give their free option a miss. Instead, build a website through a web hosting company that specializes in WordPress, such as 1&1.
Buying a Plan Without a Trial or Refund Guarantee
The best web hosts will offer trials or money back guarantees to demonstrate how confident they are in their services. Many even have Service-Level Agreements (SLA) in place for uptime.
Once in a while you’ll encounter an extremely cheap hosting plan that doesn’t come with any sort of trial period or refund policy. These are not bad per se, but it means you have to check out the provider’s track record. Affordability often comes at the expense of quality.
Free trials and money back guarantees allow you to really get a feel of their hosting service — how responsive their customer support is, how equipped they are to deal with technical issues, how reliable their network is, and how long their servers take to load your website.
Taking Their Word for it Regarding Customer Service
Every company in the world purports to have top-notch customer service. They’ll answer your calls within seconds and resolve even the most complex issue in a jiffy – guaranteed!
In reality, such sales copy is likely nowhere near the truth.
Rather than taking what they say on face value, take matters into your own hands.
- Call them up at various hours of the night to ensure they answer their phones.
- Send their web chat system a few messages to see how long they take to respond.
- Consider the email response times of past correspondence.
- Ask them technical questions to see if they can adequately answer them.
Remember, web hosting is a service. If they’re not able to reply promptly with useful information, you’ll likely be better off taking your money elsewhere.
Choosing the Wrong Server Type
Do you expect to see serious traffic spikes? If so, a scalable option such as cloud hosting would be better, since it’s able to draw more resources on demand.
Maybe your business is just starting out and you don’t want to spend a lot of money on ensuring it’s online every second of the day. In that case, a shared or virtual private server (VPS) would better suit your company’s needs.
Is security your utmost priority? Dedicated servers are about as secure as they come.
It’s crucial to determine the most appropriate server type for your requirements before comparing different companies. Many companies such as Bluehost offer all of the above, but their track record for different services may vary.
After all, you don’t want to end up like Amazon, whose famous Prime Day was ruined in 2018 by a large-scale server crash. Not even photos of cute puppies were enough to quell the anger of a million furious online shoppers.
Not Bothering to Research the Fine Print
Reading through pages of fine print is a chore. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Sadly, however, if you don’t, there’s a chance you could end up with a lousy product that doesn’t even come close to fulfilling your needs.
Unlimited bandwidth sounds awesome. But in reality, nothing in the hosting space is ever unlimited. What if they suspend your account after you reach a set limit?
What if the amazing rate you got your package for was only valid for the initial term of a few months — and afterwards, you’re charged a rate that’s several times higher?
And what if you need to upgrade your plan somewhere down the line — only to find out that they charge a hefty service fee to do so?
Other sneaky examples include prohibiting the client from installing their own software on the server, or only offering one POP account.
Pro tip: Try calling the customer service team to identify any potential restrictions. This could be quicker than reading their T&C and you’ll get to gauge the quality of their customer service as well.
Not Paying Attention to Security
Cybercrime is big business these days.
The last thing you want to do is send out an awkward email informing your clients their credit card information has been compromised.
Sound far-fetched? Home Depot had to do exactly that when they failed to secure 50 million cards in 2014.
Regardless of what industry you’re in, closely examine the security protocols of potential web hosting companies to ensure they comply with your specific needs. At the very least, they must offer secure socket layers (SSL).
SiteGround is a good example of a web host that takes security seriously. They’ve written over 800 WAF rules to safeguard against zero-day vulnerabilities in the past 12 months alone.
Forgetting to Check Out Web Hosting Company Reviews
Nothing builds trust in a product like word-of-mouth feedback.
But oftentimes this can be difficult to obtain, so you must turn to the minefield that is online reviews.
To find the best website hosting platform, check out what people are saying across various different review sites.
In particular, look out for what people are saying about the vendor’s customer service, their server uptimes, and even how fast websites load while hosted on the vendor’s servers.
Remember, fake reviews are commonplace across all industries. Use your best judgment to weed out any glowing recommendations that appear too good to be true.
Choosing a Web Hosting Company
There’s no hard and fast rule for choosing a web host company. Ultimately, it comes down to your business requirements and monthly budget.
Keep the aforementioned advice in mind while on the hunt for a service and you’ll be better equipped to make the right choice for your online business.