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A Beginner’s Guide to Web Hosting Services

Beginners guide to web hosting featured
Web hosting might seem like a difficult subject, but it's important to make the right decision for your business. Image credit: Florian Krumm

In today’s digital marketplace, everyone needs web hosting services. Everyone from freelance writers, to world-renowned actors to professional chefs and everything in between have some kind of virtual space that tells you everything you need to know about them.

Getting your website online has become a more accessible goal than ever before, but to get your web presence started off right you may be best looking into the amazing world of web hosting services.

What are Web Hosting Services?

Building a presence online is like building a house; without a strong foundation and support over time things could start to fall apart.

A web hosting service is what its name implies, a service that hosts your website.

A web hosting service can offer a strong foundation to whatever you want to put out there, from blogs, to websites to online stores. A web hosting service is a company that holds a large amount of internet space available for you to essentially rent.

Choosing the Best Hosting Service for SEO, CRO and UX

Your web hosting service will have a concrete impact on your business’ bottom line. From a business point of view, a website does two things:

  1. Attracts potential customers,
  2. Convinces them to make a purchase.

Your hosting plan is fundamental to each of these goals. Let’s start with how hosting impacts your ability to attract users.

Website Hosting and SEO

Web hosting and technical SEO are inseparable. In fact, about a third of SEO ranking signals are related to your hosting:

Web-hosting-services-impact-on-SEO-detailed
Hosting can have an impact on just about all elements of your SEO. Image credit: Uptimisers

For one thing, your site’s speed impacts your SEO in three crucial ways.

  1. It improves Google’s ability to crawl your site,
  2. Google will prioritise faster websites in search results,
  3. Users spend greater amounts of time on faster sites, which signals to Google that your site is providing valuable content, so it will be prioritised even further.

In addition to just speed, Google takes account of the security credentials of your site, including security certificates which are supported by your host. Sites which meet certain security standards, like HTTPS and HSTS consistently outrank those which do not.

Finally, the reliability of your hosting provider greatly impacts your technical SEO. Put yourself in Google’s shoes for a second. You wouldn’t rank a site which has a lot of down time, because there’s a good chance that it will return a server error when users click on it.

Website Hosting and CRO/UX

The same basic principles impact your site’s ability to convert users into paying customers. We already said that a faster site offers a better UX, leading to longer browsing times. This means more time reading your content, and absorbing your messaging.

Similarly, secure hosting greatly impacts your conversion rates, especially on ecommerce stores.

If you don’t meet modern hosting security standards, most browsers won’t even let users visit your website, let alone enter their card details.

How Does a Web Hosting Service Work?

If any site exists on the internet, it is being ‘hosted’ by someone, somewhere, physically on a server.

Web-users come and go, accessing these servers to receive the host’s content.
Hosting draws out the lines for your ‘plot’ of space within one of these servers, and this becomes the home for all the files and content you wish to share with others.

A web-user visits your page, and any content you want hosted on this server gets shared directly to them. The best part is, on professional servers that sharing will be incredibly fast and efficient.

A web hosting service will work with your company to provide a stable and robust ‘plot’ of internet real-estate, integrate your designs seamlessly on to the web and help keep your presence alive with great support and customer service.

How Much Does This Cost?

Web hosting is a booming industry that is constantly expanding. This means that your company is spoiled for choice, with prices consistently low for the wealth of perks provided by web hosting services.

Many of the major services out there operate for you for as low as a few pounds a month, some even going under the £1 mark entirely. Web hosting services really want your business more than ever, so they’ve put a definite focus on being as approachable and affordable as possible.

Most starting websites will not impact your bottom-line very much, and the benefits from increased sales could well out-weight the costs.

Along with being able to share your company with the world in a safe and reliable way, nearly all the major web hosting services provide great quality-of-life incentives; effortless integration of websites made with outside tools such as WordPress, and round-the-clock support lines that are just a call away for starters.

All these services are designed to relieve you of the stress of maintaining your online presence, so that you can focus on more pressing matters in the day-to-day running of your company.

What to Look for in a Web Hosting Service

As you can tell, web hosting is an important investment. As such, you’ll want to choose the right service. However, the tricky thing is it’s also a highly technical investment. Being honest, most business owners aren’t technical experts.

They’re experts in running their business.

So how do you make sense of all of the different tech specs of various hosting providers? More importantly, how are you going to decide which ones are most important for your business’ bottom line?

Let’s take a look at some of the key variables.

Storage Space

As the name suggests, this is the amount of data you can store on your website. These days, this typically stands around the 5GB mark, but can go all the way up to unlimited plans. The thing to consider here is how much media you display on your site.

Things like images and videos will quickly eat your storage allowance.

You’ll also want to look into what happens when you want to update your storage allowance. As your business grows, you might start to invest more heavily in content marketing. Then your site will grow too.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is essentially how much traffic your site can handle. The best analogy here is a busy road. A dual carriageway can easily handle hundreds of cars every hour without becoming congested.

However, if thousands of drivers tried to drive down the same road, things would quickly start to slow down.

Bandwidth works exactly the same way. As such, it’s generally best to purchase the plan which offers the highest bandwidth within your budget, all else being equal. Remember, the speed of your site has a direct impact on your sales figures:

Impact of web hosting services on profitabilty.
Load times greatly impact the revenue generation power of your site. Image credit: Hobo-Web

You should also consider what’s known as bandwidth overage.

This is your host’s policy for what happens if you go above your allowance. Generally, hosting services will do one of three things:

  1. Turn off your site entirely,
  2. Automatically charge additional fees,
  3. Notify you that you’ve exceeded your allowance, and give you time to upgrade without penalising you.

Which of these is preferable should go without saying.

Business Email Hosting

Your hosting service is also generally responsible for hosting your business email accounts. There are a number of different things to look for here, including:

  • The number of unique email addresses you’re offered,
  • The amount of inbox space each address has,
  • Which mail clients are supported as standard.

The key thing here is to take a long view when making business decisions. Even if you have 2-3 members of staff at the moment, it makes sense to invest in more business email addresses straight away.

This allows you to easily add new members of the team, as well as creating email address for different business functions, like marketing@yourdomain.com or Customersupport@yourdomain.com.

Where Should I Start With Web Hosting Services?

There are so many web hosting services out there vying for your business that knowing where to start can be a dizzying thought. The best place to begin is to determine what your company needs. Consider asking yourself these questions:

  1. How many visitors do we want/anticipate getting per month to our website?
  2. What is the scope of our website? How big in gigabytes do we really need it?
    Do we need a support structure to reach out to if technical problems arise?
  3. What can we afford?

Once you answer those questions, the next step is to research. A quick search online will turn up lots of lists of web hosting services, showing what one company can offer versus another, and how much each will cost. Use your answers from the previous questions to really determine what you need.

If you anticipate a lot of visitors then aim for high bandwidth, or if you want a site dense with information and content then see what storage options are provided. Keep going until you find one that suits your needs.

At this point it may be useful to have a website made in existing tools such as WordPress or whatever you prefer, many services allow easy integration of your designs already so make sure to note which.

Once you’ve found and reached out to an appropriate web hosting service, you can start to ask what kind of hosting is required for what you want to achieve.

There’s shared hosting plans, as well as cloud hosting plans to really up your storage, or even dedicated hosting plans for those that want a server all to themselves.

Again, there are many options for many different purposes, and by contacting a web hosting service you’ll be easily able to find what you need.

Finally, you’ll need to decide on a Domain Name for your site. A Domain Name is what anyone uses to find a website so you’ll want to pick something easy to remember and that’s instantly reflective of your company.

Going forward without one is like leaving your site in deep space and hoping somebody will find it, it hurts your brand more to not have one.

You can already have one decided on before following any of the steps in this article too, because your domain name is YOURS and can be taken with you on to any other web hosting service.

After securing a domain name and settling into your plan with your web hosting service, you’re good to go! If you’re starting off small, options for expansion are very easy to get from your Service.

If you’re starting off big, then you can relax in the fact that you’re paying for a truly quality product. A web hosting service can be an invaluable resource for finding your way in the sometimes-confusing online world.

ProfileTree are a full-service digital agency specialising in web design, content marketing and social media marketing. We also offer a range of web hosting services. To find out more about our web hosting services, click here or follow our blog!

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