We all learn from our own mistakes in one way or the other. However, don’t you think it’s better to learn from others’ mistakes than doing it ourselves and then repent of them? If it’s about hosting your commercial website, you can’t afford making a single mistake. An hour of downtime can not only cost you much, but also put your online reputation at a stake.
There are several such incidents where small businesses and startups became victims of poor web hosting service. If you keep an eye on some of the web hosting reviews, you will learn and feel the pain points. Every eCommerce website owner must do this exercise to develop analytical skills.
You’ll not only need a good web host, but a reliable and easily approachable solution provider. Anything less than that will simply not work. If your friends said that it’s so easy to put up a website and get going in online business, please think twice before you go by the rumors and surprises. It takes a plethora of money, effort and deep understanding of the WWW to run a show on the web.
You, as a responsible business owner should be completely aware of the pros and cons of a web hosting solution.
In the proceeding sections, we will learn the common mistakes people do while choosing a web host and the tricks to avoid them.
Mistake#1: Expecting the Cheapest and Free Web Host Solution
Nothing comes free in this world (except for the free WordPress themes), so why should your hosting be free? If someone promises you a free hosting service, for sure you are going to encounter at least one the following problems in future.
- The web host may put unsolicited 3rd party advertisements on your website.
- You may not be able to run certain scripts for animation or video.
- There can be serious issues with website loading speed.
- Someday you may receive a warning message ‘Upgrading or Shut Down’ from your host.
- You may have no clue of when and why the server went down, leaving you as a silent spectator.
- The hosting provider may not respond to your concerns with utmost care in case you need quick technical fixes.
- You may not have the leverage to build or scale up your website, the way to want it.
- Search engines may not give your site an equal importance while ranking it on search engine result pages (SERPs). This is certainly a huge problem. If people searching for your product will not find your store listed higher in the SERPs, you will definitely lose some cash.
Can you afford to take so many risks and live on uncertainties at the cost of couple of bucks? Inexpensive but paid web hosting, so far, is quite affordable and risk-free. Modern hosting companies like Hostt, allow you to host your websites for free, as long as the domains are registered with them.
Mistake#2: Shared vs Dedicated Hosting – Does It Really Matter?
Actually, it does. When you are on a shared server and in the range of $5 to $50 a month, you are sharing the retail space with at least hundred if not thousands of other site owners. Now if one of the thousand sites on a particular server consumes maximum resources or encounters virus and malicious codes you will have to suffer the consequences. There will be sluggishness in the website loading speed. The technicians at the web host may also shut the server down for some business hours.
In short, your online store may experience several problems that cost you more than what you save with shared hosting.
Does this leave you any other options than going to a dedicated hosting? Of course, not. Ask yourself that if your site goes down for an hour, will that really affect your revenue and reputation. If the answer is yes, dedicated hosting is what you need. However, if you are a startup and selling less than 20 products in a day, you may not need to move to a dedicated server initially. You can always scale up when you need it.
Mistake#3: Not Communicating with the Technical Support
If 100% uptime guarantee is what you expect from your web host, you too have certain roles to play. Hosting service is a technical service, so you need a good technical support person who can assist you 24 x7. In case you stuck in between some operations, you should be able to talk to someone over the phone or access to quick live chat option for immediate help. It’s crucial that you have the emergency phone number handy.
Mistake#4: Not Paying Attention to Given Terms and Conditions
We all tend to ignore ToS while signing up for any service or deal. Sometimes this practice may turn out to be fatal. Generally, hosting companies highlight only those points that they want you to read, not what you need to know to avoid future issues. You should read Refund policy, Cancellation policy, ToS of agreement carefully and ask the provider for any clarification. It is your accountability to verify the service description, deliverables and related conditions before you make payment.
Mistake#5: Not Having a Clarity on Disk Space and Bandwidth Usage
If you have already subscribed to 50 MB disk space and 10 GB bandwidth, you are all set to run a big show. With 10 GB bandwidth, you do not have to worry about transfer limit even if your site gets thousands of hits in a day. But if you start with 2 GB bandwidth and will not upgrade shortly your will face the downtime problem.
Mistake#6: Not Sticking to the Basics of Buying over the Web
There are protocols that every online buyer needs to follow while dealing with vendors over the web. Here is a checklist below in case you want to revisit them.
- Can you find the phone number you can call to, and is it easy to find it on the vendor’s website?
- Can you find customer testimonials or third party reviews of the host?
- Can you find physical address of the business on the ‘Contact’ or ‘About Us’ page?
- Are you buying the service directly from the hosting company or a third party reseller?
- Do you find enough information about the technical support and customer service on the website?
- Do you see money back guarantee on the website?
These are only a few tricks among lots of others you may consider while re-evaluating your web host.
Mistake#7: Not Having Detailed Information on the Support Portal and Its Use
Every web host maintains a support portal for its users in order for them to submit tickets and get real-time update on its status. In case, you do not know what it really means to you, just ask your host about it over the phone or a live chat session. The bottom line is that you should be able to submit, view, review and respond to the tickets until the issue is resolved.
Mistake#8: Not Understanding the SEO Implications of Web Hosting
If you think that any affordable hosting package will work as far as the host gives you a 99% uptime guarantee, you are possibly wrong. Hosting problem can actually overkill your SEO efforts. Slow site speed, database connection errors, shared hosting with poor quality spam sites can damage your site’s credibility to human users as well as Google bots. With exceeded bandwidth limit, prolonged runtime errors, internal server error you may even end up at de-indexing your site in Google. No matter how big your SEO team is or how good they are at building links, without a reliable host in place, you sure will not succeed in marketing your products.
Mistake#9: Not Exploring Your Limitations
You may have encountered promotional texts like ‘Unlimited’, ‘Free for Ever’ while browsing various web host portals. Does this really mean that you get everything for unlimited use? Does it stand logically possible?Apart from bandwidth and disk space quota, you should watch out for the other limitations that do not generally show on sign up page of the host.
Feel free to ask your web host if you can:
- Maintain multiple POP accounts;
- Use Secure Shell (SSH);
- Add statistics to your account;
- Install new software on your own;
- Use shopping cart on your website.
In a nutshell, you should be able to figure out that your hosting company does not limit you from anything needful.
Mistake#10: Partnering with a New Hosting Company
There are brand new hosting providers who offer huge discounts, freebies, coupon codes, software, and cash awards to gain quick attention of business users.Their objective is to acquire a large number of customers and scale their business in order to make quick cash. Unfortunately, after a period of 6 to 12 months, they run out of server space and close down. It is important that you select a company that has been serving customers for more than 10 years and has gone through the pain of serving them successfully.
The above 10 mistakes are the broad level analysis of how majority of the business owners succumb to poor hosting solution. If you go deeper into the subject or listen to the victims in person, you will know more.
It’s always good to trust on your judgment than going by any advertisement or biased opinions. Once you read enough reviews, customer testimonials, blogs, tutorials and forum comments you will be in a better position to analyze and compare between a good and a bad host. If you have a gut feeling that the answers are not easily forthcoming from a host, you should discontinue the discussion and look for alternative.
Last but not the least, you should not miss out even the smallest things like a server backing up your website on a regular interval or sending you an auto update for disruption of service. All these factors determine if you have a good web host to partner with, and if you can really continue with the host for next 10 or 15 years.