Which Website Hosting and Why

Why should you worry about which web hosting to use. 

It's just a website right? Wrong! 

Write a list of things you want your website to do. 

What you expect it to contribute to the business.

If you do not want your website to be found or convert traffic into business, now is the time to leave this page!  Quite frankly how you got here in the first place is anyone’s guess.  The following information is what you already know!

It is of use to remind business owners and stakeholders who fall into one of two categories:

1) Determined to have the best chances of a successful website that prevents the competition from stealing your rightful prospects and new customers (or providing your existing customers with the best possible customer service via a website! - A scenario you haven't thought of!).

2) Sleep at night and focus during the day on things that matter, knowing the business website is serving pages fast 24/7.  What you don't have a downtime monitor in place!

Understand the difference between website hosting and cost to your business.  Slow websites increase bounce rates, reduce conversions and loose visitors faster - forever!  First time vistors to your website leaving within the first 10 seconds are 90% likely never to return to your website again.

The cost to your business will be unforgiving if you do not understand how much your business could increase with the right hosting solution in place. 

The best hosting solution need not be expensive.  Digital Ocean for example can be as little as $10 a month for a cloud based dedicated server. 

Compare this to a shared hosting solution package from 1&1 or Fasthosts and the 'saving' is an amount that will cost you more than it saves. 

There is a false economy when it comes to saving money for services that fail to do what they should be doing. 

Let's assume your website has been created to generate more traffic and time goes on.  Consider these two scenarios

1) As time goes on and traffic is no different to when the website was first created you have to ask why. 

2) If you are sending people to your website and it's failing to generate orders and new business you have to ask why? 

But your Google Analytics will give you these answers - You are using GA?  You regularly refer to reports about your goals and conversions?

You have to start with a number of questions about the purpose of your website which should form goals to measure. 

Along side the goals there should be a dimension to measure speed and how it effects goals.  The general consensus is that fast websites increase conversions.  (with all other conditions being met)

In the most general sense, people will stay longer the faster a website page loads.  If people stay longer they are much more likely to convert into a customer or convert as a goal.  Eg, fill out a form to request further information.  

Some easy to implement website goals using Google Analytics to get you started.  Eg, How long a visitor stays on the website or the pages that are being promoted through ads or email marketing, then  benchmark using speed. 

The internet has got a lot faster, not just because of broadband and now fibre optic, remember the dial-up modem? The backbone connection for the internet has been repeatedly improved and replaced with better technology.  The home computer is faster and smarter.  The mobile phone is faster and smarter. 

We’re all doing things faster and expect things to be on our screen (or door step!) in an instant or a blink of an eye (Google's goal is to have its website respond within a blink of an eye .5 second - or worse case less than 1 second).  

What has this got to do with website hosting you’re asking?  The server setup you chose to invest in for your website will determine how fast it responds to website visitors.  The hosting can be made simple if you get the right people to setup your server. 

Where it becomes complicated is defining the necessary services for your website and the platform your use.  For example Wordpress websites can be optimised to perform super fast but let's say you install a couple of plugins that do cool things like popup and ask the visitor for an email. 

What if you were told that this plugin slowed your website down by 1 second and overall your website responds 2 seconds slower before the popup plugin was installed.  

The same principles but different platforms apply Magento, Drupal Opencart and others will all have different requirements from the services running on the server. 

Setting up your website server to perform its best is worth every penny at the beginning.

This was not intended to be another article that compares to watching paint dry or comparing which hosting company is the best.  The best hosting is the hosting that is setup correctly!  A competent developer can setup and tune a Linux server and tweak it according which plaform you use.  This is the only way you will ever be in full control of your website security and speed. 

This information has been created to prompt you to invest in your website performance, not spend more money!  You can have the most expensive dedicated machine hosted on the fastest network and yet a website setup on a $10 Cloud Dedicated Server setup will out perform it if the setup isn't right. 

Ignore the rules of engagement and so will your new customers ignore your website and business. 

If you have or are investing in driving more traffic to your website and not hosting your website with performance in mind you will throw more money away than you believe you have saved.  

No one likes to watch paint dry but to give your business the very best opportunity to getting your website in front of new customers and converting more traffic into business it is essential to make sure your paint doesn't dry with drips!

Good choice, read / listen to this 20 second story (being updated come back soon!).

The cleaner of a client asked him what he spent on website hosting, knowing his business was e-commerce that he was running from home and he had a website that was being hosted somewhere!

She was gobsmacked when he told her what his hosting cost each and every month but equally excited and proud that her website hosting solution was free for life! Yes, she bought a domain with free hosting for life for £100.  Wow he said, that’s amazing and left her to carry on cleaning his house.

This client didn’t always have the very best hosting money could buy.  He started his e-commerce business back in 2002 and went with a shared server solution because £23 a month made a lot more sense for his young start-up business. Had he paid any more than this, his cash flow would have been squeezed.  It wasn’t until his traffic was exceeding 10k a month and his turnover from online transactions was reaching 200k a year that hosting became a topic worth talking about.

For most businesses that are starting out the initial investment in a website is minimal.  A clean simple website design and cheap hosting gives the business a presence.  A good presence that makes financial sense.  What follows or what should follow is a process that involves scaling.  Attracting more traffic and not giving the traffic a good chance of seeing what they came to see is a foolish mistake that can be avoided.

But remember - scaling involves taking a risk so paying for something you can't see can be your only mistake. 

The website hosting simple mistake.  Hosting a website is not seen, it is something invisible, it’s in the background and for this reason it is not assigned any value.  Value that is, that contributes to the growth of the business.  It’s an easy mistake to make and it's understandable how it can be made. 

But here comes the problem for businesses that continue to stick with the cheap as chips hosting solutions.  The free for life hosting packages and let’s face it, anything that is costing less than a few hundred pounds a month and is expected to generate 100’s of thousands of £'s of business a month is pie in the sky wishful thinking.

Check your Google Analytics reports!  This will tell you exactly if your website is responding as fast as your website visitors like it to!

Think about it

The investment made driving traffic to the website is wasted.  

The loss of visitors and the lack of conversions is down to the poor performance of the website. 

Cheap hosting equates to slow under optimised servers delivering your website pages slower than the faster servers.  

There is no way to explain this other than fast response from the server = faster loading website / pages = visitor much more likely to stay on the page / website for longer.  

What do you do when a website doesn’t load as fast as you would like or a website page freezes?  


You leave and the chances are you’ll never come back.  Statistically it is over 90% and statistically the chances are high that the cheap skate business owner haven’t implemented a retargeting campaign so the chances of you ever reaching this business again are in the high 90%

It’s a boring subject.  To be interested in website hosting takes a certain sort of hunger for knowledge.  The truth is, as a business owner you only need to know that the investment made to get more traffic / visitors to your website should reflect the investment in knowing the website will respond as fast as it possibly can to suit your budget.  

Check your speed with Google Insights or Pingdom

With the web server technology available today there is no excuse for not having an optimised server delivering a faster website / pages and user experience.

Here are some questions to ensure you go about securing the best solution for your website.  If you are using a service such as Wix for your website you will have no control of your website server and performance.

Know the difference between a shared and dedicated server?
Know the difference between a cloud based hosting solution?

How much traffic comes to your website each month and where does it come from?

How much are you investing in acquiring new traffic?
How long do you expect your website visitors to stay and consume your content?
What is the primary purpose of the website?
Are you sending new traffic to a specific page to complete a call to action?

There are many considerations that end with the question.  Is the server responding as fast as it should when visitors come to our website.  See original Google Insights website performance tool

Google's new speed test for mobile websites

We’re human we hate delays!  We hate waiting in queues.  

Yes people do wait in line waiting for something but it’s usually something worth waiting for and it’s not available online.  Can you imagine how popular the internet would be if you had to wait in line for something.  You are 23 in the queue please continue to wait we will be with you shortly!

When it comes to the internet and people searching for stuff there is no waiting in line.  There is too much choice and there is no being patient.

Write a list of the reasons why people should
a) find your website and
b) what they should do when they do find it.

Look at the available hosting solutions and research price differences for the same level of service.

A superfast managed dedicated server for example could cost £500 a month but the same solution could be achieved for half the cost using a non managed server and a website developer to set it up.

A few considerations.
A shared server means resources are shared with all other websites being hosted on the same shared server.  This will vary from one hosting provider to another.  
How many users there are on the shared server, or how many resellers are on the same server, will impact performance.  This server setup is typically a dedicated server split into a number of users the hosting provider is profiting from.  A profit they make that compromises the performance of the server which in turn impacts the speed and user experience for your website visitors.

A standard website hosting package that offers website hosting for the year on a pay monthly from as little as 3.99 a month is start-up level service. 

These types of website hosting packages vary in resources allocated to each and every domain hosted on the same range of IP addresses.  It can be from a few hundred to 10,000+. 

Yes you read that correctly. 

Your website could be on a server that is hosting over 10,000 other websites at the same time and they are all competing for the same server resources. 

A salesperson  or technicians for the hosting provider will claim that the servers are optimised to optimally perform and allocate resources with software and monitoring and that distributed resources reduces any risk of bottlenecks and downtime.  This claim is bold and misleading.  Yes technology has improved and there are some very clever systems to regulate server traffic and resource hungry setups but it really is hit and miss for your website.  

Your website will never ever be able to scale along with the activity you carry out to drive more traffic to your website.

If your business really is focused on driving more website traffic to the place that generates more business why would you stifle it?  

The main problem with hosting is knowing what you can’t see is actually doing what it claims to be doing.  This is only true if you have not got something in place to monitor downtime / outages or you’re not looking at traffic reports.  

Super fast hosting isn’t cheap but it need not be cost prohibitive.  Take Digital Ocean for example, a cloud based service with state of the art server networking enabling a business to scale according to resources needed.  A good dedicated server setup on their cloud network can be achieved at a base cost rate of $10 a month!  Comparing websites being hosted in this environment compared to a website hosted on a shared server would be notably difference.

Want to see a case study for a website that gets over 100k visitors a month is more secure than a banking website and costs $40 a month!?

Over the years there have been many attempts to order a list of top hosting providers in terms of best performers.  Eg, top 10 hosting providers but this is generally skewed to include those that win awards for being so wealthy!  And those paying to sponsor such websites!  The website’s that list ‘objectively’ the best hosting providers also try to sound neutral by using text like this:

Choosing a type of web hosting
There are many types of web hosting plans available, but most projects will be best served by one of the two most popular types of plans: shared and VPS hosting.
Shared hosting, which involves many customers sharing an IP address and a single set of computing resources, is very inexpensive and widely popular. It is perfect for personal blogs and websites for smaller businesses and non-profit organizations.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting gives you much more control, as well as your own unique IP address and a larger portion of server resources. It is typically the right choice for larger organizations and online businesses.
Depending on the type of site, and how much traffic you expect, you can filter the list above for the type of plan you are looking for. From there you can narrow it down based on the specific details (like how scalable the plan is, how they handle traffic spikes, and the cost of bandwidth).

The above quote sounds neutral and just what you want to hear but its telling you nothing about the host providers they are promoting, cant recall the exact website this is from but if you Google "best website hosting providers" or "best website hosting services" you'll start seeing a pattern - a misleading pattern!

Want the best hosting solution?  Ask someone who runs a website that consistently increases traffic and is generating revenue month after month.  A website that is a successful website will be one that is delivering content and pages fast and reliably and therefore has a great website hosting provider.  

Know your competition?  Not the local ones that pop-up every now and again.  The real competition that are always on top of the search results and always have a website that responds superfast. Tip, if you have seen a business spending cash on Adwords consistently for the last few years, the chances are high that paying for traffic works!

Check out their website on Google Insights and check who their website is hosted by using a whois tool, this tool will tell you how many other websites are hosted on the same IP and whether it’s a dedicated server or not.  

Whilst there is a trend to move away from dedicated servers and onto a cloud based dedicated server setup the main difference will be how it is managed and setup to ensure the best performance for your website.  Depending on your website platform the server setup will have different considerations.  Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla all do similar things but the database and file structure will impact on the server differently.  E-commerce platforms will likewise have to be considered for the same reasons.  Oscommerce, Open Cart or Magento will all need specific server setups to ensure optimal performance.  

There should be enough information in this short document to give you a starting point.  And remember:

“It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When
you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay
too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you
bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The
common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a
lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well
to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will
have enough to pay for something better.”
― John Ruskin

This short article skims over the basics and provokes thought.  Hosting a website is more often overlooked if not because it is not fully understood or something that can’t easily be setup but also because free to cheap services are available.  Click and forget services that end up costing the business more in the long term!

This was written after being contacted by someone recently who business partner registered a domain name with !$! And one clicked installed Prestshop.  After 5 months and no sales and no enquiries the questions started to flow.  Why isn’t this working?  Having had a couple of long and detailed conversations about options the penny dropped and they realised time and money had been wasted.  Start as you mean to go on.  Business solutions are no more favourable online if you choose to go down a route of doing things on the cheap.  You can’t rock up at a car boot sale and be seen to be retailing in the same Shopping Mall as John Lewis!

Personally I hate website hosting because it is seen as by the business owner as a waste of money.  Professionally I love good website hosting because when it is setup right for the right business the rewards are never ending.  For a couple of case studies contact me directly.

The future is all about metrics, setting up your hosting with awesome analytics will tell you in easy to read reports what is working and what is not.

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