I’ve been in the position many times when I have looked at the costs of starting an online business and one of the things that always comes up in the calculations is Hosting. In many cases when you are starting an online business and it is on a shoestring budget then you only need the very basic of hosting to get you going, however if you stick with this throughout then you will suffer long term and below we are going to explain why your cheap hosting could be effecting your online efforts.
Last year I worked with a client who had her hosting with her brothers reseller account. Now their website was for a very luxury item which was extremely important to the purchaser, so for everything to run smoothly was essential, there were issues with the checkout and the speed of the transactions that was causing people to abandon their purchases. So as a consultant I made the suggestion that they change hosts and get their own dedicated server. This caused a number of issues:
- Due to the relationship the client had with the hosting provider (her brother) we went to battle over “It isn’t the server!” this wasted valuable WEEKS not just hours but weeks of time going back and forth. During this time we had a test website set up with all of the information on our own dedicated server and it was running like a train with no problems what so ever.
- The increase in cost from a few pounds per month to almost a hundred pounds a month is a big hit for a business to take. We went around in circles over and over the increase in cost and will it improve the website and so on.
- The website ran a massive number of scripts to keep the functionality of the website as good for the customers as possible, however little thought was given by the client to the speed of the server and the pages being served to the visitors.
After advising the client many many times to upgrade their hosting from the cheap reseller account that they were part of, we eventually parted company with them not wanting to incur the extra costs and us not being able to do what we needed to do because the tools that we were provided with were just not of the quality required to get good results.
I am however reliably informed that 9 months down the line the company that they are now working with have upgraded their hosting and moved the website and low and behold they are now seeing better results from the website speed. Crazy how this advice thing works isn’t it?
So how do you justify the cost of a bigger hosting package within your business plan?
Websites have evolved, there was a time when you waited for a page to load because you had a slow internet connection and that was the cause of everything going slowly. With the technology available today, devices that browse the internet, internet connections and websites themselves all work quicker and as such every aspect of a site that can run quickly needs to run as quick as possible.
How Can Your Hosting Hurt Your Business?
Your website speed can do a number of things to your online efforts:
- A slower website will not rank as high as a faster website in Google as Google factor in the speed of your website in their ranking algorithm (somehow).
- A slower website will make people leave and will keep people from moving around your website as it will take its time to load and not always look as you mean it to look.
- A slower website will mean that more things go wrong on your site. Not always on the site itself but things won’t look right, if your website is slow to load then chances are that you will see the site looking different as certain aspects take longer to load. For example your logo might not show until last thing, or your sidebar might show at the top of the site pushing the content down the page for the visitor.
- Faster websites get higher conversions. Massive companies spend a fortune on making sure that their servers are fast and that their websites are serving pages quicker than a jack rabbit, there is good reason for this, they get more sales that way.
So how can you get your website to run nice and quick?
With getting your website to run faster there are a number of issues, firstly the demand for functionality means that you run more plugins or scripts that need to run on your website. I had a client that was adamant that he had the “Best Website in the Wedding Industry” he had paid to have some bespoke work done on his website and therefore because of the functionality he had self proclaimed that his website was amazing! Just one issue, it took about 30 seconds to load and when I mentioned to him that his functionality was costing him people to his website he flat refused to take on board what we were saying. The knock on effect of this was as a company that provides promotion services for websites we couldn’t help him promote his website as we were unable to solve the issues that were in place.
There are ways that you can increase the speed of your website:
- If you are implementing a website for the first time or even if you are going for a redesign, make sure that you are using the absolute basics that you need for your site. Having 5000 plugins running to offer functionality to your users that they basically aren’t using will just slow your site down and stop you getting a good speed from your site.
- Make sure that you are up to date with the latest code/plugins/versions/scripts etc This means if you are running WordPress you need to make sure that all of your plugins are updated on a regular basis.
- Make sure that your hosting company offers you a good package. In many cases to keep costs down your website is hosted alongside thousands of others on the same computer, it only takes one of those websites to be extremely resource hungry and all of a sudden your website is running like a dog and no one can tell you why.
- Don’t be afraid to test your site speed for yourself from different locations using tools like tools.pingdom.com that will tell you how fast your website is and compare it to other websites it has tested so you can see how fast it is. You can do this for every page on your website so you test to see how quickly different pages are loading.
- Don’t forget to test that the version of your website that shows on mobile devices also loads quickly, your ranking can be effected by people bouncing off your website without it loading (yep Google know when that has happened) so make sure you test to see how quick your website loads on a mobile device as well.
- Consider moving your email off your server (yep you can have your email on a different server than your website) Google Apps is an excellent service and will serve you well for global access to your email, it also means that you don’t have your email clogging up your website disk space and your bandwidth which gives your site speed.
All in all a lot of your websites speed comes down to your hosting company. If you are getting a lot of traffic then you are serving more data to your users and you need to start thinking about adding in some extra cash to your hosting provider to give you a nice fast hosting account that is optimised for your website.
If you are running an online store then you should think about a dedicated IP address and an SSL certificate (if this is all jargon to you then simply ask your hosting company to sort it out for you and get them to implement it) at the same time make sure that your hosting is nice and quick so you can get people through the payment process as quick as possible.
All in all you need a web host that will provide you with a great speed at a sensible price.
So what is a sensible price for hosting for a small company?
Our recommended hosting company is Siteground mainly because you can get everything you need all under one roof without it costing a fortune and you get a nice quick hosting service at the same time. Make sure you check out their latest offers before you look at the competition.
Please bare in mind that when your website gets slow and you have a lot more going on than you did when you first designed it, more visitors, more content, more images, more video the list is endless, however you still expect your hosting to keep its speed? Well now is the time to start thinking maybe it is time for an upgrade!