Small Business Web Hosting: A Closer Look At Small Business Web Hosting Requirements

The Small Business Website

A small business website is a potentially powerful tool in the marketing and promotion arsenal. It can be used to attract new customers, but it can also be used to direct existing leads to, inform existing customers of updates, and it can even be used as a customer account management tool in some instances. A small business website is often more than just an extension of your business efforts, it is the first face of your business that customers see. It is imperative then, that your website conveys the kind of professional image that you want to promote.

The Professional Image Of Your Business

A professional image is purveyed in a number of different ways. Not only should the design compliment any existing company branding and be clean, crisp, and easily understandable. The tone of your content should be similarly well done and the message that you convey to readers should be on of your corporate image. This is all obviously important to the success of a small business website and consequently to the success of your small business. However, it is important not to overlook the vital role that the web host plays in the setting up and control of your website.

Considering Network Stability

Web host companies vary greatly. Some offer excellent packages at affordable rates, and combine this is with an impressive uptime guarantee. However, others are more prone to system and server crashes making it nearly impossible to produce the professional image you require. A quick search on the Internet for hosting reviews will usually turn up some surprising and generally unwanted reviews. Picking carefully the host that offers the package you need along with the security and stability your website demands is mission critical. Your visitors are unlikely to return if your website suffers from regular crashes and slow loading pages.

Comparing Uptime Guarantees To Customer Feedback

Network stability is one of the most important things to consider. However, it can be difficult to ascertain just how stable a host’s network is on the back of their uptime guarantee. Look for hosts that offer some form of documented proof. In some cases this may be as simple as statistics and figures, as well as details of the times the system went down. Look for online reviews and compare the reviews to the actual figures. When looking at reviews from Webmasters do remember that the people most likely to place a review are those that have suffered difficulties. The happy customers are generally the quiet ones but you might find some vehemently pushing the cause of a particular company.

Taking Advantage Of The Money Back Guarantee

If a service offers a free trial, or money back guarantee, then check the terms and conditions of this trial and take advantage of it. For the most part, if you pay annually you will receive a minimum 30-day trial. If you aren’t happy during this period you can cancel your account and claim your payment back. This gives you a month to determine how stable your website will be using their service. Again this isn’t a definite indication of a low or high quality service but it is an indicator.

Website And Network Security

Security is another big issue especially if you will be holding details of your customers, your leads, and your company on your server. Not only can an insecure server mean that this data is prone to being stolen but security threats are also network stability threats in some cases. Sites do get hacked and the sole purpose of some attacks is simply to overload the server and cause a server crash. In other cases, your site could be replaced by another meaning your hard work is potentially lining the pockets of others.

The Security Threat Posed By Other Websites

Security threats come from all over, and this is particularly true of shared hosting accounts. A shared hosting account means you will be sharing a single server with tens or hundreds of other websites. If any of these websites use high risk scripts on their website then they not only put their own site at risk but all sites on that server. Through no fault of your own you could find that your website goes down or you have data and information stolen from your server. This also means that no matter how careful you are and how rigorously you implement security measures you aren’t always in control of your website’s security.

The Problem Of Overloaded Servers

Other threats to the integrity of your website also exist with shared hosting accounts. Hosts attempt to make as much money from each of their servers as possible; this is only natural. However, in some cases they do this by overloading the server. By charging sites a premium for using more than their allotted diskspace or bandwidth a host takes a chance that the majority of all other websites on that server are not using anywhere near their capacity. For the most part this is a safe and accurate assumption. However, that isn’t always the case. Slow loading pages and server downtime are indicative of an overloaded server.

Looking Beyond The Problems

For all of these potential problems, though, the huge majority of shared hosting customers do not face any real trouble. Some form of site or server downtime is virtually inevitable, especially with budget hosting accounts but the good hosts will be able to inform you of most of these outages or act quickly in responding to unplanned server downtime. You should attempt to choose a host that offers a reliable service and good customer service for those occasions when there is little or nothing they can do about it.

Alternatives To Shared Hosting

More stable and more powerful alternatives do exist in the shape of virtual private server hosting, dedicated hosting, clustered hosting, and even hosting your own server. For the small business just starting out on the Internet though these can prove cost inhibitive and simply unnecessary for the website’s needs.

Small Business Web Hosting Conclusion

Small business websites are proving to be more of a commodity than they are a luxury. They offer an affordable and effective way to keep in touch with existing customers, manage customer accounts, and even generate new business leads. Care should be taken to ensure that your website appears professional because it is potentially the first aspect of your business that many customers will see. Your small business web hosting decision should be based on this fact, as well, ensuring that you choose the best host for your requirements. Network stability, security, communication, and of course budget are all important factors that you should consider.