A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Website Hosting
by John Rampton
Having a website as a small business owner is just sort of a given and a known fact. What isn’t as common is the fact that small business owners seem to know little if anything about the actual mechanics behind the website that ensures a website is available 24/7/365. Besides knowing generally how small business website hosting works, it’s important to determine if the website hosting you are currently using is the best option for your business and future growth plans.
What small business website hosting companies do
Web hosting companies host your website on their servers and make sure that it is available for your traffic and customers at all times, as well as make it available to you or your developer to update on a regular basis. It is the hosting company's job to handle all the technical aspects that go into running a website, including ensuring it’s secure from cybercriminals, malware, and viruses as well as a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This means you can focus on running your small business, including SEO and marketing strategies, content marketing, social media, and daily operations, because you know they have all the technical part of your online presence fully managed.
Other helpful services offered by a small business website hosting company include locating and securing domain names, shopping cart software if you are an e-commerce business, email functionality, and design tools. As a small business, you also most likely don’t have any IT team so a small business website hosting provider can provide the technical support you need related to any issues with your website.
Types of small business website hosting
There are many types of website hosting that you should be aware of:
- Dedicated hosting means there is a dedicated server for just one website
- Shared, or virtual, hosting involves storing numerous websites on its servers
- Colocation hosting is where a business owns its own dedicated server at someone else’s data center
The most economical type of small business website hosting is the shared, or virtual, hosting.
Small business website hosting costs
Charges for web hosting are typically on a monthly basis with fees tied to the number of websites you need to host, how much storage space you need, and the number of email accounts.
As a small business, you most likely just have one website and a few email accounts with not a significant need for tons of storage space. Of course, you are most likely going to grow so consider looking for a small business website company that will grow with you and give you the scale you need. Prices can range from free to $10 a month typically based on the type of website hosting company you go with.
If you have multiple sites or specialize in e-commerce, you may want to look for a small business website company that highlights that type of expertise. These types of website hosting cost a bit more but come packed with many features.
Benefits and things to think about with a small business website hosting company
The biggest benefit of using a company for website hosting is the value for your money in terms of the time and expertise you get, while providing you with your online presence and helping to fuel your online traffic. You also save money by not having to invest in the hardware, networking, and talent to operate it, which would cost significantly more and not something most small businesses could even afford.
The one downside is that sharing server spaces with other businesses can put you at a small risk of those sites doing something like sending spam which would then cause the server to be blocked. However, many small business website hosting companies take precautions to make sure this will not become an issue. While some website hosting companies have been known to deliver unreliable service, the best thing you can do is do your homework by asking other small businesses who they use, and get a recommendation, take time to read online reviews, and ask the hosting company for references.
How to select a web hosting service
Don’t select a web host provider based on cost alone. Simply put, the “you get what you pay for” mantra doesn’t always apply in the Website hosting business. Things to look for should include packages that fit your needs, website builders, integrated control panel, the ability to easily install supported apps, server access options and the type of technical support offered. As a small business owner just starting up, keep in mind that there are some incredible companies that are absolutely free or low cost.
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