But first, an experience we can all relate to…

Is the neighborhood safe? Is there room for our family to grow? Does the home fit my lifestyle? What amenities are included? Are the neighbors friendly? Are there any structural or maintenance issues? How are the reviews/media?

There’s a lot to consider when selecting a home. It’s a place for entertaining friends and family, as well as one of the places that you will spend a significant portion of your life. It’s reflective of your personality and tells guests your story through photos, colors, decorations, placement and other selections. Whether it’s remodeling a room or new colored towels, improvements and maintenance are ongoing.

This would be absurd.

Imagine eliminating the considerations above and selecting your next home based on price — the cheapest price. No thought about your life, family, needs, safety — just looking for the cheapest home and moving in. While you might get lucky, chances are the results would be quite the opposite.

Here comes the website comparison (don’t act surprised, you knew it was coming).

So why would you choose the cheapest solution to house your business?

Good chance your business is paying for your home and other life expenses or at least you are working toward that end. Because your business is supporting your life, it becomes very important that you represent yourself professionally and competitively. Prospects need to know who you are, what you do and see value in that. Your website is your opportunity reach the world and is a direct reflection of your brand. Prospects that might have never known you otherwise, will decide in a few seconds whether or not they are interested in doing business with you. Website speed and overall performance are not only at the top of the list for SEO consideration, but the reason a prospect either moves from your site to the next one or becomes a customer.

So, again — why would you choose a home for your online business using one criteria: cheapest?

It’s not hard — just go back to the house.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the technical buzzwords. Like picking a home, host considerations are very similar. Is it secure? Is it managed? How are the reviews? Does it fit my needs? Is there room to grow? It’s really about asking yourself what’s important to you as a business owner and then applying that list to your website and hosting expectations.

When searching  for home, you don’t have all the answers, but what you do have is needs and expectations. Based on those you either do the research or talk to professionals you can trust. After reading, visiting, inquiring and comparison, you find, not the cheapest, but the home that allows you to check off the most “need” boxes, while staying near the allotted budget. The same strategy can be used for finding the perfect home (host) for your website.

If you’re serious about your business, start here.

Don’t go for the cheapest, the one that lists the most technical terms under the price or the one your neighbor’s kid says his college professor likes the best. You get what you pay for (hosting isn’t any different), technical buzzwords are often a ploy to trick those who don’t do the research and your neighbor’s kid’s college professor doesn’t know you or your business.

Start your website home (host) search with the following and then add to the list, if you have additional needs.

Website home (host) needs and expectations.

  • Is the host secure? It’s no fun to wake up to spam posts, missing pages or a site that looks as if aliens invaded it over night. If you thought you had a busy schedule before, try adding a hacked website to the list. Take the time to call the hosts you’re considering and find out what they offer to protect your website and how often they have issues. Then double check that information through online reviews (trusted sources). Always consider consulting an established web development team to follow-up and give a second opinion.
  • Does the host offer managed service and if so, what does that include? Unless you are a technical wizard, you don’t want to set your website up in an unmanaged environment. You’ll want to be sure that your host is doing regular site backups and will walk you through any issues that you don’t have the know how or time to handle.  If you are extremely busy, it’s useful to have site maintenance included.
  • What specifications does the host have around sites allowed per space? In other words, do they monitor how many people live in your neighborhood and what type of neighbors they are? If your site resides on a server that is near capacity or has other sites that drain significant resources, this directly affects your SEO and site visitors experience. If a host can’t provide detailed information on the “neighborhood” and your “neighbors” probably best to move on.
  • Does the host perform regular server updates and maintenance? Believe it or not, many popular hosts are behind on updates that affects security and the way your site functions. Take the time to read about and become familiar with the platform your site is built on. Ask your host prospects what they do to optimize their environment to best service your site.
  • Will the host provide performance testing reports? You need to know that you are getting the service you signed up for. Your provider should be able to provide reports showing consistent performance from month to month. If issues arise, they should be able troubleshoot with you to determine if you need a better plan or should connect with your web developer to pinpoint website problems.
  • Don’t stop here! It’s your business! All questions are good questions when it relates to putting your best foot forward online. Make sure you’re getting exactly what you need and if you don’t know, ask.

 

And finally.

A host is the home for your business, online. Do the research, ask the questions, get second and even third opinions. Again —  If you don’t know, ask! The host you choose is the difference between high scoring SEO and performance and poor search results and major security issues.

Careful consideration at the onset, will prevent problems, increase performance and allow you to focus on your what you do well — running your business.