This is a guest post by Jodie Manners. Jodie is a conversion copywriter, content strategist and optimisation specialist working with bold B2B SaaS and marketing brands. Before founding This Copy Sticks, she raised £2 million for charities before her 25th birthday. After 10 years convincing the public to embrace their inner altruist, Jodie now puts her words to work helping tech-mad trailblazers grow their businesses.
Everyone makes mistakes, but when it comes to web hosting, they can have a seriously negative impact on your business.
There are lots of options for web hosting out there today. But this choice can make it harder than ever to pick a host that best suits your company’s needs.
If you get that decision wrong, your website performance can suffer. Sites with poor web performance provide a poor user experience. A consistently good user experience is what will edge your business up search engine rankings.
In the long-run, simple web hosting mistakes can hurt your business and put a big dent in your profit margins. So, which mistakes should you watch out for and how can you avoid making them in the first place?
Not understanding how your host affects your SEO
Businesses who fail to understand the link between their web host provider and SEO will always run into problems.
Choose the wrong web hosting service and all the other hard work you’ve been doing to boost your rankings will be in vain. There are many ways your web host can negatively impact your SEO. Here are some of the most important:
- If you customer’s user experience suffers because your website loads slowly, or not at all, it can damage your credibility. People tend to report bad experiences to their family and friends, driving people away and ultimately reducing your web traffic.
- You’ll push any traffic you do get on to your competitors. If people click through to your site but then quickly leave because it’s too slow, your bounce rate will rapidly rise, reducing your rankings.
- If you go with a shared hosting service and the quality of the other sites you’re sharing with is low, this can reduce your credibility in the eyes of search engines, which may then lower your rankings.
- If your site suffers frequent downtime, speed issues or database connection errors, you’ll be penalised by search engines for providing a poor user experience.
In the worst-case scenario, search engines can de-index your site. You can avoid most issues by:
- Choosing a reliable web host with many positive reviews
- Choosing a hosting plan that suits your website’s needs
- Watching your metrics (e.g. bounce rate) and reacting to any irregularities quickly
Not understanding what is being offered
One of the main issues faced by the non-tech-savvy business owner is a lack of clarity regarding their disk space usage, bandwidth and other hosting limitations.
This is not really surprising. Business owners are always being pulled in different directions and few have the time to understand the difference between disk space and bandwidth, let alone all of the other technicalities of web hosting.
But getting it wrong can really harm your business. For instance, if you start with too little bandwidth, your website is going to suffer more downtime as it creeks under the weight of too much data (too many users, images, text, videos etc.)
Downtime is when your website is not available when someone visits. It’s why we sometimes come across the dreaded 404 page when browsing the Internet. And it’s why you hear of a website ‘going down’ when too many people try to access it at once.
Many business owners fail to take note of the limits different web hosts have. How can you decide if a host offers what you need, if you don’t understand what they’re offering in the first place? Before you commit, you should be asking:
- How much storage and bandwidth will I need to maintain the type of website I have/want?
- Is it possible to use SSH (Secure Shell)?
- Can it maintain multiple POP accounts?
- Can you add new software without the help of a developer?
Not adding or using SSL Certification
Can your web hosting service offer you SSL certification? For most search engines, having an SSL certificate is essentially non-negotiable. Providing a secure site for your audience is a crucial ranking signal.
If you don’t have one, you won’t be seen as trustworthy and search engines will be highly reluctant to drive traffic to you.
Make sure your web host provides it and sign up for it if it’s optional. Most web hosts will include an SSL in your package, but for some of the cheaper or free hosts, it is likely to be an add-on.
Choosing a cheap or free web hosting service
Most business owners want to save on costs, and that’s understandable. However, opting for the lowest cost web hosting solution can be a false economy.
Unless you are running a small website, with few pages and little in the way of complex applications (think author portfolios, basic blogs etc.), the chances are that you will outgrow a free or very cheap service.
While it can save you money now, it could become counter-productive. Sites hosted with free services can be ranked lower by search engines. This is not so problematic if your website is more of a placeholder than your main marketing channel, but for a lot of businesses, it is a deal-breaker. You will know if you’ve outgrown a free or cheap web host if:
- Your site is experiencing a lot of downtime
- You can’t run specific scripts for animations or videos when you want to
- You’re in a place to negotiate your own advertisers but are stuck with the ones your free host provides
If this sounds like you, it might be time to bite the bullet and opt for a high-quality, paid host.
With the right web hosting service, your business can go from strength to strength. Any online business worth their salt needs a scalable solution that will keep your site accessible to your audience, as well as pleasurable for them to use. By avoiding these key mistakes, you can keep on top of your competition.