Any small business owner looking to take a company into the future cannot afford to overlook the many benefits of moving a brand into the online arena. With practically unlimited opportunities for inexpensive marketing and expansion, the ability to meet and attract patrons in a social setting, and of course, the prospect of nearly unfettered access to the consumer public on a global level, the internet has dramatically changed the way that small businesses can compete. But there are certain steps you must take if you want to realize success in your attempts to capitalize on this medium for commercial expansion. And one of the first things you’ll want to do is find a fantastic web host.
There are several criteria to consider before you settle on a web host that will best suit your online operation. The two main requirements are speed and reliability. Think about times when you’ve visited a website where pages took forever to load, or worse yet, wouldn’t load at all. Did you return to later on or did you simply move on to the next listing under your Google search? Most likely it was the latter. If you want to ensure that your customers don’t do the same you need to select a web host that has the bandwidth and connection to keep your site up and running 100% of the time.
Okay, so every web host will have times when scheduled maintenance is necessary (although they should inform you of this so that you can pass the information along to your patrons). But you’ll want to look for a site that guarantees reliability and offers reparations (like money back) for unscheduled down time. Keep in mind that frequent blackouts can also affect your rankings on search engines if their web crawlers are unable to find your site.
You should also find out about options for expansion. Although you may start small with just a few pages and a handful of loyal customers, both of these areas are likely to grow and you want to make sure that your web host can accommodate any expansion. Some hosts will charge you extra for added pages or features (like an online store or on-site blog) while others will fine you for a significant increase in traffic to your site. Still others will insist that you purchase some sort of pricy, “unlimited usage” plan to protect against such fees. You’ll want to avoid all of these scenarios by simply choosing a service provider that offers incremental plans to cover your future needs.
As for how to go about finding the type of managed services you seek in a web host, there are a few options. You can start by speaking to trusted colleagues, or even friends and family that run online business to see if they can make recommendations. If you don’t know anyone personally that you can ask for advice, visit industry forums to post your query. You might even consider contacting the owners of respected sites that you visit and enjoy personally or professionally to find out if they would be willing to give you information on their hosting service. And of course, you should do plenty of research on your own to ensure that you find a web host that can offer you everything you need at a price you can afford.