Small businesses with a strong online presence enjoy a significant advantage over small businesses that don’t. Going online with your small business means you can offer your products and services to a wider audience and connect with more people in your local area. Websites attract new customers the world over and your choice of web hosting is just as important as the website itself. Online shoppers require high performance rates and constant uptimes for a seamless shopping experience. Taking your business online is both a necessary and important task. So, making sure that you understand and choose the right web hosting is an important first step in the success of your website. Your specific needs as a business owner are significantly different than other website administrators.

Web Hosting Platforms

You need to be aware of the different types of hosting platforms available in order to safely host your website online. Some hosting platforms may be better than the other, depending on the particular needs, objectives, and operations of your small business.

●   Shared Website Hosting

Shared hosting is well suited to a website owner with little to no expectation of a heavy site traffic. If you expect you will be have a regular flow of traffic on the site of about 20 to 30 people a day, and no more, it will not be hard for people to view your web pages. As the business grows, you might want to look into the next option, virtual private server hosting. With shared hosting, your website along with many other websites share a physical server in addition to an IP address. The amount of customisability available with shared hosting is limited — you are stuck with using the preinstalled server software.

●   Virtual Private Server Hosting (VPS)

With this form of web hosting, your website shares a server with other, different websites while each website has its own sandbox: a virtual server. Unlike with shared hosting, the software on a virtual server is very customisable. However, some constraints are still presented where the hardware and resource limitations of the server are concerned.

●     Dedicated Website Hosting

This type of website hosting is for the website owner interested in having their website on a dedicated server. There is a lot more space on a dedicated server, with faster load times and better overall functionality. Dedicated web hosting is more expensive than shared, but with the added perks, greater flexibility and power, it can be well worth it. Dedicated website hosting offers the opportunity to customise both software and hardware. The resources available on the server are equally accessible on dedicated hosting.

Shared hosting is the most common of the three as most small businesses can comfortably share a server. We recommend shared hosting for businesses receiving less than 20,000 unique visitors in a month.

Deciding on the type of hosting you want for your business is just one aspect of web hosting for your business. There are other factors that need to be considered when you choose a hosting plan. Here are some things to look out for when it comes to choosing a reliable web host for your business.

SSL Certificates

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) refers to a security protocol with which secured data transfer takes place between your website server and the user. If you have to secure login form on your website or process online payments, then your business needs an SSL certificate in order to protect the credit card information of your customers. Even businesses that do not handle payment processing but accept confidential information from people, are also advised to buy SSL certificate to convey reliability of the data security. A lot of shared hosting plans will provide you shared SSL certificate for a small fee or even free of charge.

Disk Space

Although storage space is rarely the limiting factor when it comes to hosting, disk space is worth investigating. Bandwidth and restrictions on CPU resource are more likely to be the sources of limitations as your business expands and grows and more traffic flows to your website. With the most basic hosting plans, disk space is capped at 500MB or 1GB. A small or medium sized website can easily manage 500MB of disk space. Some companies also offer unlimited cloud backup for the most basic plans.

Server Speed

The speed of your server is attributed to things like processor power, latency of the connection, read/write speed onto the hard drive, and the data transfer rate, all of which affect how fast your website loads. Your business website should naturally aim to provide users with a pleasant experience while shopping or browsing your content. A slow website that is unresponsive is reflective of poor hosting, which you should steer clear from. Server speed is necessary to business hosting because your business success hangs on user experience which determines whether they will return in the future.

Refund Policy

Until you try their service, it is impossible to tell how good a hosting company is. The refund policy where a money-back guarantee is offered is a safe way to ensure that you are getting a good deal. Therefore, when choosing a hosting plan, look at the refund policy before making any commitments. Good, reliable hosting company will offer a 100% money-back guarantee, regardless of circumstances, for 14 days at the very least. The refund policy is especially important because server speed cannot actually be tested until you host your website, so if you are unhappy about the performance, you can request your money back within the accepted period.

Site Backups

Your business website cannot afford to lose certain information. During hosting, there are many unexpected disasters that could occur. A regular system of backups is the best protection against sudden failures. With a recent copy of your website, a complete loss can be averted. Certain hosting companies offer automated backups at no cost while others provide a one-click backup tool to be used whenever you feel the need to. In addition, free backup restores exist if you know where to look.