Small business websites range from a signpost pointing to a brick and mortar location to a full-service ecommerce site which is the business itself. A lot of what you’ll be looking for in your small business hosting is dependent on the situation that you are in with your small business.
What Type of Hosting Should Small Businesses Use?
Shared hosting is the cheapest and quickest way to get your site up on the internet. If you aren’t running any extensive ecommerce applications and don’t need to handle massive amounts of traffic, then shared hosting is probably the ideal kind of hosting you’ll need for a small business. If you have a small business site that is mostly of the contact information and signpost variety, then shared hosting can save you a lot of money each month.
Cloud hosting is the step up from shared hosting, and is the ideal starter package for a small business website that is running more extensive ecommerce applications or will need to handle greater amounts of data. It allows a lot of scaling and flexibility for your site, which can be ideal in the early stages when you are unsure what will create the optimal user experience and optimal business situation.
Dedicated Server Hosting
Dedicated servers or more expensive private clouds are the top tier of hosting, and are usually not going to be what your small business needs. Usually, dedicated servers offer way more data and power than you’re going to need and will cost you a lot more money than you’ll want to spend. However, dedicated servers can be appropriate for small businesses that need to store extremely sensitive client data or that need to create intensive user experiences.
Things to Look For In Small Business Hosting
Once you’ve identified the kind of hosting that you’ll need, you should begin to compare hosting plans (we’ve got a great tool for that) in order to figure out what will work best for you.
Your business probably doesn’t have money to burn on web services. You want to pay good money for a good service, but you don’t want to overpay. Honestly, comparing hosting plans is one of the best ways to make sure that you don’t get ripped off in the hosting game. You’ll need to create a great hosting plan without overpaying. By comparing plans you can get a feel for how much each kind of service and how much data should cost. If you’re getting shared hosting, that will be the cheapest kind of plan, with public clouds coming next and dedicated servers and private clouds at the top of the price points.
One of the absolutely critical parts of small business hosting will be the service and maintenance that your hosting company provides. If you’re building a small business website then you are probably also running a small business–no surprise there–and therefore you don’t want to waste time running the backend of your website. In order to function at a high level, you need a website that is managed with malware checks, various security checks, automatic backups, and customer service. If your site experiences problems or begins to crash or fall apart, then you’ll want stellar customer service that can handle those things and get your business back on track.
The level of security that you’re going to want to grab for your site depends on the kind of information and data that you’re dealing with. Obviously, you don’t want to collect any malware on your website, and that will be the basic level of security that you need. In addition, your host should provide firewalls and server-level security so that everything runs smoothly.
Speed and Data
You want good processing, RAM, and data storage to maximize the user experience of your site. If your site only gets a few hundred users visiting every month, then you don’t generally have a need for massive data and speed amounts. However, keep in mind the type of business that you’re running! If people are often going to discover you on their phone while looking for local services or shopping, then load times will be critical to engaging an active, mobile audience.
Latency and load times generally are dependent on the location of your servers. If you are running a location-based small business, like a local service or a business that has locations in a single city or area, then you may want to consider finding servers which are in your area. If the servers are on the other side of the country or even in a different country, the load time on your website can increase by valuable seconds. Not only does this increase your bounce rate and hurt page load times, this also hurts your search engine rankings. Your local tags won’t be that valuable if you can’t show up on people’s phones and computers quickly.
Dashboard and Ease of Use
You don’t want to burn a week trying to figure out how the dashboards and control panels work. If you know that you want to run your hosting on WordPress or a specific CMS, then you should be looking for a hosting company that helps to integrate the CMS that you want to use. You should be easily able to upload files and media to your site and use the dashboard to optimize performance.
Small business hosting is all about determining the goal of your site, then matching the type of hosting and the hosting company to best meet that goal. If you aren’t sure what you want your site to do, then it can be really hard to figure out what is important to get in hosting. If you know that you want to run a simple site that helps people connect with your business, then look for shared hosting that doesn’t cost too much and that carries the right kind of data and speed. If you are looking for a site that runs ecommerce and takes your business to new levels, then you’ll be looking for something a bit more powerful that carries more extensive customer service.