Choosing the right hosting for your website is crucial to succeeding online. The very definition of hosting is “an online service that enables you to publish your website on the internet.” Without it, you cannot ensure that your website data will successfully appear on your visitors’ browsers.
We understand that the digital landscape can be a minefield, particularly for someone who is not technically minded, that’s why we’re breaking down this decision into the six most important considerations when choosing the right hosting for your website.
Much like your home, it’s important to lay a digital foundation for your website that can ensure an effective and secure operation for your online business. In our experience, a lack of understanding of what is required from your hosting service can lead to confusion and we sometimes find clients only considering the cost element. However, there are a number of other important factors to consider when choosing your website hosting service:
To continue our home analogy; you wouldn’t leave home without locking your front door, and your website should be no different. If you’re an eCommerce business, you’re likely storing sensitive customer data, so security should be at the top of your priority list; especially if you want to keep those customers, maintain a great reputation, and grow your business.
When searching for a hosting provider, you should look for the most secure hosting that you can afford. In this age of cyber attacks and endless cyber security risks, you should look for hosting that is continuously monitored for unusual activity or unauthorised access.
Just like when you’re purchasing online from any website, you should also make sure that your hosting includes a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. This is a vital piece of security that encrypts the data that travels between your customer’s browser and your server, keeping payment and customer data completely secure.
Security is not just important for eCommerce sites managing customer data. Keeping your website secure considerably reduces the risk of your website being hacked and having nefarious links hidden around the site, to steal visitor data as they browse.
Whether you’re selling online or providing a resource for your audience, it’s imperative to keep your site secure and build trust with your visitors. A lack of security can lead to penalisation from search engines, directly impacting your SEO and reducing the likelihood of your website being listed in search engine results pages (SERPs).
What is your long term goal for your website? Do you expect it to stay the same forever, or is it your intention to grow? If so, scalability is something you should consider early in your search for a hosting platform. Ideally, you want to make sure that a sudden surge in website visitors won’t cause any issues on your hosting server.
Before you decide on your hosting partner, make sure that whether you’re trying to accommodate steady growth over time, or a spike in views because of a great viral campaign, that the user experience will never be compromised. Ensuring scalability will help you to maintain a smooth user experience, ultimately leading to the satisfaction and loyalty of your visitors.
Make sure you’re aware of any additional costs before signing a contract. Will you be able to upgrade your hosting plan as needed? It’s important to understand any limitations or restrictions such as traffic or bandwidth.
Consider the support element of your hosting like you would your home insurance. In times of need, make sure that it is there to help you navigate any issues that may arise. The gold standard in support is 24/7 monitoring that is easy to access if your website goes down or faces a detrimental issue. Just knowing that you’ve got a dedicated resource at the end of a phone or an email can give you peace of mind that your website is always in good hands.
Be sure to take a look at the small print to understand how often your website is backed up in case you ever need to recover a lost or corrupted file. Ideally, your hosting provider should be doing daily backups.
According to Google, your website should load in under 3 seconds to be considered ‘fast’. Anything more than 3 seconds and you’re at risk of losing your visitor to a website that appears instantly.
Although your hosting server alone cannot be responsible for the overall loading speed of your website, it is certainly a contributing factor. If you don’t want to be penalised by search engines (and visitors) you need to ensure that the hosting server has sufficient processing power and memory to make your pages load immediately. Of course, you should also consider the size of your images, the types of media on your pages, page elements such as buttons and tiles, slow or outdated plugins, etc.
Consider the reliability of the server as well as the speed. Be sure to ask about the uptime rating. This tells you the guaranteed availability of the server that is hosting your site. With our secure WP Engine hosting you can expect a 99.99% uptime.
Dedicated Hosting Environment
Just like giving out your house key to others, you should consider the impact that sharing your hosting server could have on your website. With shared hosting services, your website may be affected by the actions taking place on other websites. This could be anything from a huge surge in website traffic to another site either slowing down your website, or making it completely inaccessible, to your site security being compromised by the actions of another site on your hosting server.
You should look for a dedicated hosting server, or managed dedicated hosting where the provider maintains the security for all sites on the platform.
It’s easy to find yourself simply looking at the monthly cost when considering hosting services. Particularly because a quick online search can return results for “free hosting” or basic hosting plans from as little as £2.99 per month. As with everything in life, you often get what you pay for, and in some cases, you get things you don’t pay for (such as spyware and hacking).
We encourage you to fully assess your hosting package before signing up to any lengthy contract, because cheap website hosting may lead to lower security, limited flexibility and access to support, performance issues, etc.
At Browndog we use WP Engine’s dedicated WordPress and WooCommerce hosting platform for over 100 client websites, including our own eCommerce business, FWDirect. We would never recommend a service that we wouldn’t use ourselves, which is why we only provide the most secure hosting for our customers.
Our hosting packages look after the maintenance and upkeep of your website, including plugin updates. You will benefit from a dedicated server, no limits to traffic or bandwidth (within reason), additional Global Edge Security (GES), daily backups and priority 24/7 support from WP Engine.