- What’s important to know in a web hosting provider?Not all hosts are created equal. Not all hosting providers are created equal. The vast majority of “cheap” hosting providers are offshore, which will drastically impact your site performance, your bounce rate (how quickly leave your site) and your conversion rate. For local businesses, it is strongly recommended to use a local hosting provider with servers within Australia, that has a good reputation for service and performance.Comparatively too, cheap hosters will also often just provide you with a hosting “shell”, and then i comes back to your own capabilities to migrate your website across and get everything setup.
- What are servers?
Servers are large, purpose built computers that are often directly connected to the internet through a data center (a place dedicated to housing servers). In the hosting context, these are called web servers as the server itself has been configured to serve websites, as opposed to documents (file server).
3. What are the different types of hosting?
Typically there are 3 categories of hosting services. The most common is “Shared hosting” where a single powerful web server is setup to cater for multiple websites owned by different people or businesses. Shared hosting is usually the cheapest hosting option as the consumer is not paying for dedicated server hardware.
Dedicated servers (or virtual servers) is another category of hosting whereby the consumer purchases or leases an entire server for themselves. There is typically a significant cost increase with this option as the server cost is not being distributed across multiple websites / hosting customers, however in certain circumstances (website size, power or bandwidth requirements or for security reasons) a dedicated server may be necessary.
The 3rd category of hosting, which is a more recent hosting addition, is through Cloud service providers. Otherwise referred to as “Platform as a service”, you purchase webserver compute and storage, database compute and storage, but the hosting solution is technically serverless. This type of hosting is still in the stages of early adoption given the uncertainties associated with the pricing for this. Whereas dedicated servers, or shared hosting, provide fixed costs, platform as a service hosting charges based on utilisation.
4. What hosting is best for my business? (eCommerce site, personal blog site, a site with less traffic etc).
For the vast majority of hosting consumers, shared hosting through a reputable hosting provider will be the best balance of performance, support and cost. If a user is solely focused on price, then off-shore hosting will always be the cheapest option however note the “hidden costs” mentioned above in terms of lost revenue due to visitor exit rates.
For larger sites, or sites requiring more bandwidth, shared hosting may still be an option however on a larger hosting package that meets the site requirements. Failure to select an adequate hosting plan can lead to services being suspended and impaired – so this needs to be carefully considered when selecting a hosting provider.
Larger sites again, or if security and/or guaranteed performance is a requirement, dedicated servers (aka Virtual Private Servers) provide complete control over the underlying web server, and complete flexibility in how the environment can be configured to suit the website or application requirements.
5. Why free hosting isn’t always a good idea?
Avoid free hosting alternatives like the plague. The free hosting model is based upon advertising that is injected into the footer or header of your websites. If you’re a poor uni student with a blog, this may be fine, but if you are wanting to make a professional impression for your business’ website, then wide-berth any hosting services that offer a free tier. Aside from the ads, these services are almost always oversubscribed, slow and offer zero support. It’s the equivalent of operating your business from a hotmail email address… nobody, will respect your business if your ad-riddled website is the first impression they get.
6. What about security? Or Tips on security.
This is a hot topic, given that the vast majority of websites are built on WordPress – an open source content management system whereby the code is freely available and if you don’t keep this patched and updated, the exploits are also widely documented.
While patching the WordPress core files is generally safe, upgrading plugins can lead to broken websites depending on whether your website developer followed best practice or not in using child themes.
Security however extends beyond simply patching your website (although this is a great starting point). There are a lot of great security plugins, web application firewalls etc available that help protect your site against common exploits and will often alert you if malware has been injected into your site. The user of content distribution networks such as CloudFlare offers an additional layer of protection, but closer to home, the hosting provider should also have measures in place as part of their service that helps protect against things such as brute force attacks by locking out users (by IP address) if too many failed logins are identified.
7. How do you provide more value to your customers?
Black Label Hosting is a fully managed hosting service that literally takes the hassle out of website hosting. Our service not only meets, but in many cases exceeds all of the above requirements for a quality hosting service. We offer a Black Label Concierge service which takes care of all on-boarding activities for our clients to make sure the hosting migration is done properly, goes smoothly and with minimal disruption to any business services. Each site we bring across into our platform is tested, health-checked, performance tuned, security hardened and configured with its own SSL certificate. We even dive into the website code to make sure all the internal resources are loaded via the SSL-enabled (secure) URL, so the site receives the green SECURE icon to the left of the domain in the URL… and all this being included as standard in each of our hosting plans.
While we certainly do cater for direct client engagements, our service is primarily geared at Digital agencies (SEO’s, AdWords marketers and Web developers) where we see ourselves as more of an extension to the agency partner’s business, and a value-add to their own in-house services.
When you read about metrics as 40% exit rates on sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load, and a 7% drop in conversion rate for each second in webpage response times – this what our services aims to address. So we provide the best version of the client’s website for our digital agencies to work with, so they can then achieve the best possible outcome from their marketing efforts knowing that the hosting platform won’t be a component that’s secretly undermining their hard work.