Your hosting platform can make or break your online or eCommerce business. Learn why you need to choose carefully and what to look for in a hosting service.

Building a robust eCommerce business is difficult. Working and fully automated trade models suffer growing pains just as brick and mortar storefronts do on their road to success.

Truth be told, building a successful online business can be more challenging because you must rely on third-party providers for web hosting and software services. 

Ask any seasoned entrepreneur, blogger, developer, innovator, or marketer. They will tell you that choosing the best web hosting services provider can make all the difference between a lifetime of fantastic eCommerce performance and extortion or trapped experience. 

What is web hosting?

Websites can be content management systems (CMSs), web applications, or document-based platforms. The files, applications, or systems that run websites require a web address or domain name.

Each time a potential client looks up your domain name in their browser, internet protocol will direct that request to your web hosting provider’s servers. These servers will, in turn, send your website content back to your website visitor’s browser. 

WHSR says that you can choose to self-host on your server (if you have one) or pay a web hosting service provider to host your site for you. Web hosting services provide website CMSs, applications, and file storage facilities. These are useful to businesses and individuals who want to have an online presence.

According to TechRadar, there are six main types of web hosting. Each option has unique costs, reliability, control, technical knowledge, server speed, and storage capacity requirements. These include:

1. Shared hosting 

A web hosting service where multiple websites reside on a single web server when connected to the internet. This is typically the most economical option with maintenence costs and other fees being covered by more than one customer.

2. Virtual private servers

A virtual machine, typically sold as a service, that’s offered by hosting service companies. These operate fsimilarly to a dedicated physical server but are defined by software, making them less expensive and easier to create and configure to specific user needs.

3. Dedicated hosting

Rather than sharing a server, dedicated hosting allows a website, or series of sites, operated by the same person or company to lease an entire server. This is often more expensive, but it can be more secure and lead to less errors or downtime.

4. Cloud hosting

Cloud hosting utilizes multiple servers as an informational database to balance the load and operational needs of a website. This can lead to improved uptime thanks to the available redundancies of having multiple servers supporting your site.

5. Managed hosting

Rather than troubleshooting and handling maintenance yourself, managed hosting is an option where you have a 3rd party manage the upkeep and implementation for you. This is typically a secondary service that also includes a shared hosting platform (ie. virtual, cloud or shared hosting).

6. Colocation hosting 

Typically the most expensive option, colocation hosting requires the purchase of specific hardware you utilize onsite, as well as the rental of physical servers within a data center.

The consequences of choosing the wrong hosting platform

All hosting is not created equal. It’s important to choose the right platform. Using the wrong one can have dire consequences. As an illustration as per the infographic below, a one-second delay can cost your eCommerce shop, 7% of its conversions, because the fastest pages on Google have a loading speed of 2000ms.

website performance

Now, let’s check out what can go wrong thanks to poor hosting.

Negative SEO Ranking

Google’s ranking algorithm has clarified that it will not tolerate inaccurate information and poor web experience from websites on its pages. The search engine, therefore, rewards fine, unique content, fully optimized sites, and the best web experiences with exposure. Google rejects not only poor content and performance on websites but can issue a Google Penalty as well.  

Neil Patel says that the search engine’s manual or automatic penalty can, at the very worst, reset your Page Rank to a big fat zero. Or eliminate your website’s cached results. All of this can happen overnight.

Additionally, poor quality web hosting services can lead to low website loading speeds. Slow page loading speeds can cause user frustration and create conflict between your website and the search engine’s all-seeing algorithm. 

Softwaylancing cautions that a 20-second page loading delay can cause a 44.19% loss of page views. Now, think about it, a major benefit of content marketing is high page ranking for more sales. If you choose unreliable hosting service providers you will completely water down your content marketing efforts. Fast page loading speeds are key to content marketing success. As we’ve mentioned before, you will improve your site’s speeds if you use additional features such as content delivery networks and file caching.

Malware and security  

The best web hosting services have high-level security practices. This wards off bots, hackers, and other bad actors. 

They have robust firewall defense features for network-level protection. Their firewall will intercept requests to your site and scrutinize them to separate the malicious from the valid. Any malicious actor’s request will be denied.  

Reputable web hosting businesses will also scan for malware regularly and update their scanning applications to ensure the discovery of complex and novel malware. The best of them will restrict access to your website’s core files to prevent hacking or a crash of your website because of the accidental alteration of your core files.

Low-quality web hosting services, which do not have ample technical support, security, maintenance, and backup facilities, can be an enormous risk for a fledgling business. Close to 30,000 websites fall victim to hackers every single day. 

Outstanding hosting services will not only back up your web files to remote servers for safety but will have ample security features as well. They will also offer you easy file restoration services if an attack happens.

Loss of revenue

You only have seconds to capture the attention of a potential customer, and you cannot afford to waste them on slow-loading pages and glitches. Take, for example, the $11 million in revenue loss that website technical trouble cost Costco on Thanksgiving 2019. 

costco crashed website example

As per ABC News, the 16-hour long outage not only cost the retailer huge profits but put off their customers whose social media criticism further affected the company’s reputation. 

Poor hosting services are synonymous with technical glitches and website downtime. They can quickly put you at odds with your customers and lead to loss of revenue. 

Lack of customer support

Most business owners always realize, albeit too late, that choosing a host with less than steller customer support can lead to an expensive and messy end. There are tons of nightmarish business stories out there that warn of the elevated risk of making hasty decisions when choosing a service partner for your business. 

A good example is the Navitaire, Virgin Airlines internet-booking website. Its critical system failure led to the grounding of Virgin Airlines flights and massive financial losses. 

The airline’s check-in, reservations, and boarding site crashed two times in three months. Unfortunately, Navitaire took over 24-hours to resolve the glitches, despite promising quick support and resolution of challenges to the airline. Over 50,000 Virgin airlines customers were frustrated by the SaaS company’s lack of swift support services to the airline. 

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What features should the right hosting platform offer?

We don’t want to scare you with all of the pitfalls that can affect your business website due to poor hosting services. This is purely meant to frame how serious of a decision this is for your business. Now, to help you find the best option let’s go through the 5 things you should be looking for when purchasing a web hosting platform.

1. Optimum bandwidth and storage

If you are a new online business entrant, you might feel overwhelmed by all the technical terms and features that you need to understand before choosing a web hosting solution. For starters, storage and bandwidth are key features of a hosting solution’s capabilities and costs. 

Storage space refers to the entire quantity of space given to your website by your hosting services solution. It is a virtual filing cabinet that should amply fit all your storage needs. It should also expect the growth of your storage needs as your eCommerce business, for example, blooms and gains more data.  

The best web hosting platform will not only offer sufficient storage space but will allow you to downgrade or upgrade your storage size as your needs change. 

Bandwidth, an equally important web-hosting feature, refers to the amount and speed of data transfer that takes place between your online visitors and your website. The popularity and amounts of data required by users at a time will dictate the amount of bandwidth that you should pay for.  

Bandwidth affects not only page-loading speeds but also website backup, email access, and sending speeds. When paying for bandwidth, look not only at your current needs but also anticipate your future capacity needs. Use a website hosting provider that allows you to transfer to a different plan if your site hits its maximum spare capacity usage without levying punitive and expensive penalties.  

2. 99.9% uptime and reliability

When web hosting guarantees you 99.9% uptime, they mean that they will not allow your website to go offline for over 45-minutes each month. Downtime is a word that describes a server’s service or change in out time while uptime points to the time that a service is available online. 

A website that is up most of the time has a higher chance of pleasing its customers, earning more revenue, and rankings higher on search engine result pages. It is possible to have 99.9% uptime rates if you choose a reliable hosting provider. 

It is essential not to just take their word for it. Read customer reviews to gauge your provider’s uptime history and ask questions regarding their approach to support and maintenance.

3. Ability to scale

Your online marketing efforts will eventually pay off, and you will have more website users. Is your website hosting solution package scalable to meet an increase in traffic generation? Choose a solutions provider that is willing to upgrade critical hosting features affordably. Avoid sellers that make vague “unlimited resources” promises just to draw you in. 

4. Transparent pricing plans

The design, content, and programming needs of your site will dictate the costs of your web hosting package. You should, however, ensure that your provider lays out all the costs. Avoid businesses that have misleading pricing, hidden fees or that add expensive costs to services such as package upgrades or downgrades. 

A web hosting service may, for instance, charge a seemingly low $5 per month but throw in a mandatory charge of an extra $5 during checkout. Choose providers that allow your site to run at the price mentioned on their main pricing page and don’t include hidden fees. 

5. Domain management tools

When your website is up and running, you will need a variety of domain management tools to keep it in top shape. Domain name administration tools will, for instance, help you change or edit your name servers easily if you have to change your hosting company. You also need access to your site’s DNS records to allow the setup of sub-domains or third-party services like Google Apps. 

Domain management tools like MX records are vital in email hosting setup while domain WHOIS privacy can ward off spammers. The best hosting services should offer useful features and tools such as a content delivery network, 2-step authentication, eCommerce software, automatic backups, and one-click testing development environments.

Finding the best hosting platform is possible 

The reliability of your web hosting services provider is vital to your online business success. Do your homework and choose a solutions provider of high repute. Don’t decide solely depending on price. Use these tips to get a dependable web host that will give you seamless value and a great return on your investment.

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AvatarDeana Kovac

Deana Kovac is an internet marketing specialist and self-professed geek, passionate about writing. She enjoys sharing the knowledge and expertise she gathered with her team but also with wider audiences.