How I was introduced to website hosting
Before I started a virtual consultancy, a
bit LOT of freelancing ensued! At first, I mostly helped small businesses with event planning, day-of coordination feats, sales, etc. As time progressed, the event planning took a digital turn that started to incorporate social media. (If you know me, you’ll know that Social Media was my original [digital] jam.)
In the early days of social media, you could only access your profiles via an actual computer. So when helping companies “way back” then, if you knew how to use social media, the assumption was that you knew EVERYTHING about computers too. Thankfully, that led to some really great discoveries!
During one of those “discoveries,” I learned about website hosting.
One day I went to add some social links on a company’s website, and to my surprise, the site was offline (it crashed the night before). When I notified the owner, he was already aware and directed me to another website where we had to pay $75 to get a backup copy of the site uploaded to WordPress.
The weird thing was, WordPress ran his website, but this company (who had the backup) had a different URL. So how could THEY have a copy of this site and also be able to upload it?!
(Queue: TOTAL CONFUSION!)
Now, I had experience WordPress and knew that you could manually download website copies weekly. So why on Earth would you pay $75 for something like that?
SO I asked, “Why are you paying someone to keep a copy of your website when you can do that yourself (manually) via WordPress?“
Thankfully, the owner loved teaching us new things and explained that he used a website host for a multitude of things, but mostly as an extra layer of security. He also mentioned that you could use hosts for site monitoring, website backups and access to other tools. And guess what? The additional tools/services can help with anything from SEO and extra storage, to improving security, company emails and lots more! On top of that, he said that hosts don’t usually charge for every service, but since the problem was a bit more technical, you could just have them take care of it for a fee.
Thanks to a small assumption and simple question, my universe was altered FOREVER! #ButterflyEffect
Anyway, over time, I learned even more about website hosts, and how imperative they are for websites and businesses.
» Fast forward » to the present, and I’m writing this blog to help you learn the ropes of why you need a website host, too!
What Many Website Hosting Companies Offer 101
As mentioned above, website hosting companies are used for many things. Here’s a general list of how they can help:
- Technical Support
- Free (Company) Email Accounts
- More Website Options (themes, installations, website speed tools, etc.)
- File Management (File Manager, FTP, site backups, etc.)
Ultimately, you use them to help monitor and manage one site or multiple ones in conjunction with a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, Joomla, etc. They offer many additional options, plus access to resources that you wouldn’t otherwise have. The whole goal is to make managing your website(s) more comfortable. Plus, it never hurts to have the additional support.
Another thing, when choosing a host, it comes down to what your company needs. There isn’t necessarily a “perfect formula” for selecting one. Some hosting plans are cheap, while more extensive sites cost more money to maintain just because of their sheer size. I’ll clarify more below.
SO is website hosting really THAT important?
You bet! It’s even more imperative if you’re planning on growing your site, implementing e-commerce and need a go-to when you aren’t able to afford a full-time developer.
Ultimately, not every host offers the same services, nor does every small biz need the same thing. So to help simplify things, we’ll review each host based on the list above and create a nifty reference sheet.
Side notes: all of the below hosts have a fee. Why? Check out this article on free vs. paid web hosting. Also, all of the below pricing ranges we’re pulled on 11/21/17 and are based on shared web hosting plans (minus Shopify since they’re strictly e-commerce). To add, I chose shared hosting plans (sans Shopify – e-commerce only) because those programs are usually the most economical for smaller businesses on a budget. Lastly, UGH! Media, LLC isn’t affiliated with any of the below web hosts. This article is for informational purposes only and not construed as a ranking list. They all have their perks!
Let’s get to it!
Top 5 Hosts for Small Business Websites
Bluehost has been around since 2003, has +2M users, and a team of +750 that offer 24/7 tech support! One thing that makes them stand out is their huge list of comprehensive tools! It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert, they strive to make it easy! Plus, they offer a secure, easy-to-use live chat that doesn’t make you wait forever (like *ahem* the utility company).
Bluehost has a bunch of web hosting options! Their shared hosting prices start at $2.95 per month and go up from there.
Creating an E-Commerce site? Already have one but looking for a different host?
Shopify might be your one-stop shop because if you already have an account, hosting is included! However, take note that Shopify offers e-commerce hosting, not necessarily Shared, VPS or Dedicated. So if you have a site that doesn’t sell anything, check out the other website hosting companies. If you’re planning to sell stuff in the future, then check out Shopify. They’re the current leader in e-commerce hosting!
Shopify has three different e-commerce hosting options that range from $29, $79 or $299 per month (as of 11/21/17).
HostGator was founded in Oct. 2002 and in under four months had +100 customers, and by 2013 they had +400,000! To add, they’re currently hosting +9M domains! There’s a reason why so many people choose HostGator! ↓
“Every web hosting plan comes with a 45 day money back guarantee, 99.9% uptime guarantee, and is fully guaranteed by the CEO himself. If you ever have a problem with the regular support, just ask that your ticket be assigned to Adam and he will personally take the time to give you the VIP attention that you deserve.” -HostGator
Ultimately, HostGator is pretty straightforward, and they offer a few different web hosting packages! Their hosting prices start at $3.95 per month and go up from there.
DreamHost has been rockin’ it since 1997. The best way to describe them? Customer-centric (look at their reviews!), lots of love for opensource AND they have +400K happy customers! Not only that, but they’re always striving to innovate to make your user experience even better, and they have a 100% uptime guarantee.
DreamHost has a bunch of web hosting options! Their shared hosting prices start at $7.95 per month (for a 3-year plan) and go up from there.
SiteGround has been around since 2004 and serving +500K domains with their ever-growing staff of +400! They’re also proud because they focus on in-house solutions that sometimes also lead to new products that improve security, uptime, and speed! Cool, huh?
SiteGround has a bunch of web hosting options! Their shared hosting prices start at $3.95 per month and go up from there.
So there you have it, an intro to website hosting and why it’s crucial for business! We have more website hosting tips that we’ll be sharing in 2018, but in the meantime, stay tuned for additional UGH! Media how-tos, tips, and posts! We share a new blog every other Monday on helpful tips and how-tos to help you connect the dots between digital transformation and your small biz.
Although we specialize in Conversion Rate Optimization (specifically within SEO, Social Media, and Websites), we may not already be your CRO company. This post does not establish an UGH! Media LLC-client relationship. It is simply for informational purposes only. For more info, please refer to our disclaimer.