“Web hosting from £2 a month”, “Free web hosting” and so on all sound like tempting offers but before you take the plunge, be aware of what your signing up to.
Here’s our top 4 tips for getting suitable, reliable web hosting
Know who your neighbours are…
Would you buy a shop without knowing where it is and what shops are either side of you? No? So why would you buy cheap web hosting on a shared server?
You don’t know if the guys next door are professional spammers, or if the lady upstairs had never updated WordPress on her website and has been hacked and now distributes half of the world’s “little blue pill” offers without her even knowing.
The are two big downsides to having bad neighbours:
1. A hacked site can be processing hundreds or thousands of queries every second – using up all the shared server’s memory and leaving very little for your site to deliver your website to your genuine visitors.
2. Google sees (through its Gmail service) the spam – and that it comes from the IP address you share with the spammers. You are tainted by association (because you have the same IP address) and you’re likely to suffer from reduced search visibility. Additionally, if you’re compounding the error by running your email from the same server your important email to a new client will be more likely to go into their junk folders, and not get delivered.
A quicker website means:
- Happier visitors, who get the information they need quickly (and research has shown that faster sites are more likely to convert to enquiries and sales than slower sites).
- Happier Google, which uses site speed (and the success of the site in retaining those happier visitors) as a factor in determining how well to rank your site in their search results.
Not all support is the same
All web hosts promise 99%+ “uptime” (ie the server working 99% of the time) and 24 hour support. But when it comes to that time when your site has gone down, just when you really need it to be working (that marvellous email campaign you spent hours crafting has just gone out – but now the site is down), is the person you’re speaking to just taking you through the steps written on the card in front of them? Are you both speaking the same language – or is English their second or third language?
Or are they a real technical support agent who knows what they’re talking about? Can they understand your urgency and act proactively in your best interest?
What hosting do we provide, and why?
We use Nimbus to provide the servers for the hosting we sell to our clients. Nimbus provide data centre web server services for web agencies. Only our clients have their websites hosted on our Nimbus servers. We know who is on there, and we make sure everyone is using a recent, safe version of the content management system on which their website is built.
We make sure this server has enough memory available to handle everyone’s needs (with plenty to spare), and if one of our sites has a big surge in visits, Nimbus will give us a free “power boost” for a week, providing even more server resources to deal with the increased demand.
Some clients have more specialist needs so they have Virtual Private Servers and Dedicated Servers provided on the Nimbus network, which gives them more server power dedicated just to their website, plus the ability to pass the more strict PCI compliance requirements.
And whilst the technical elements are important that’s not the real reason we use Nimbus to supply our servers. As the saying goes, “people buy people”. We use them because they give us good advice, they flag potential issues to us, and when there’s a problem – and in technology, it’s going to happen – they don’t hide behind email or a script. They get on with finding the problem and fixing it.
Aubergine hosting packages
The hosting packages we sell to clients include as standard:
- Regular updates to their content management system (eg WordPress) to maintain security
- Regular checks that the sales and enquiry functionalities on their website are working and being received by the client
- An hour of our time to make the simple updates that clients need – changes to telephone numbers, removing old team member
You can always find cheaper web hosting. But when you think of your web hosting like your offices, you realise that cheap isn’t necessarily good. Reliable, flexible and well managed are important factors for a serious business to recognise.
One final point on hosting and your email. A lot of the country’s ISPs are now making it very hard for domain owners to email from the same server as the website. Especially if you host on a shared server because the reputation of the IP address will almost definitely be blacklisted somewhere. That means your email becomes less likely to arrive or will end up in the junk folder.
We recommend leaving email services to the pros – Google or Outlook (O365) all offer excellent email hosting and your spam will drop dramatically, too. It’s quicker, faster and works on all devices and email clients seamlessly.
So, if you’re fed up with your current hosting – whether because of downtime, things always breaking or your email never arriving at the recipients why not give us a no-obligation call on 01525 373020? Tell us what’s going on and we’ll give you our best advice.