Friday Fundamentals- March 2021
Don't Settle For The Cheapest Web Host – Here's Why
Whether your company already has a website or is on the verge of launching one, you might have noticed something a bit eyebrow-raising as you prepared your site. Namely, you might have thought, If I’m spending money just for my website to appear when customers type my URL, why would I choose the $30/month option when I could pay $3/month instead?
Here’s the catch: When you pay for hosting, you pay for way more than hosting. There’s a world of difference between that $30 plan and that $3 plan, another world of difference between a $30 plan and an $80 plan, and so on. It doesn’t always mean that you need the most expensive plan out there, but it does mean that the cheapest plan is woefully inadequate.
Either way, the cheapest plan you can find is likely bad news (yes, even if the upfront savings are alluring). Here’s why going straight to the cheapest host is an all-around poor decision.
Explaining the different types of web hosting
Most web hosting services fit neatly into five categories:
- Shared hosting. A majority of websites use shared hosting, in which your website shares a hosting server with several other websites. This arrangement allows the hosting provider to offer its services for less money, but it’s not all good news.
On a shared server, anything that happens to one website results in an equal and opposite reaction on another website. If a website sharing your server sees substantially increased traffic, your server frees bandwidth for that website by taking it from yours, thereby cutting your website’s load speeds. Additionally, if another website on your server is breached, the hacker can easily find their way to your website through your server.
- Virtual private server (VPS) hosting. A VPS resembles a shared hosting setup in that multiple websites share the same server, but a VPS divides each website into a separate virtual private server. Additionally, a VPS typically hosts fewer websites, so your website will usually load faster than with shared hosting. It may also experience fewer ripple effects from other websites’ ups and downs.
- Dedicated hosting. A dedicated hosting plan frees up a server for solely your website, so it vastly increases the chances of 24/7 high speeds and thorough security. In many cases, dedicated hosting requires you to maintain your own server, whereas with shared or VPS hosting, your host handles maintenance.
- Cloud hosting. Rather than sharing servers or having one to yourself, cloud hosting involves the remote use of several servers. This arrangement allows for extensive flexibility, so you can add and remove any hosting resources you need. It also facilitates seamless scaling as your business grows and thus brings more traffic to your website.
- Managed WordPress hosting. In some cases, your web hosting plan and your content management system (CMS) go hand in hand. Namely, your web host may sometimes oversee your WordPress account. If so, you’ll likely get daily website backups, regular CMS updates, extra security layers, and ample customer service access.
Note that the fewer websites with which yours shares its server, the more expensive web hosting may be. The same holds true for security, bandwidth, and speed – the more you have, the more you pay. That said, with web hosting, you absolutely get what you pay for.
How does cheap hosting limit you?
Although that $3/month hosting plan is budget-friendly in the short term, it will ultimately cost you more long-term money than you save by going the cheap hosting route. For every dollar that you save on cheap web hosting, you might lose more money to data vulnerabilities, lost customers, and all the actions you must take to recover from both.
Here’s why cheap hosting poses problems for you and your customers:
Everything is an (expensive) add-onSome cheap web hosting plans exist solely to lure customers not yet willing to commit to a higher-cost hosting package. These plans thus lack features by design – the goal is to get you to pay for add-ons, which can be quite expensive. You’ll likely save more money, time, and stress by opting for the more expensive hosting plan in the first place. Some of these cheap hosting plans bank on you not knowing the difference between their bare-bones plan and a better one.
Additionally, costly add-ons may disincentivize you from adding important hosting features since you might not want to pay more. Postponing these add-ons can degrade your website’s quality and, with it, your customers’ experience.
Less uptimeUptime (the amount of time per day during which customers can access your website) is arguably the clearest indicator of high-quality hosting. The best plans guarantee at least 99.5% uptime, a provision you’re unlikely to find in cheap hosting plans.
Low-uptime web hosting increases the likelihood of customers visiting your website only to experience slow load times or a full-on crash. High-uptime web hosting, on the other hand, all but guarantees a good website experience.
Low bandwidth means frequent slowdownsWith cheap hosting, you’ll share a server with other websites, so one website’s ups become your downs. The lower bandwidth you experience when your server must boost another website leads to slow load times or perhaps even crashes – both problems you can avoid with higher-quality hosting plans.
High-end plans also minimize the possibility of customers experiencing slow website load speeds (or no loading at all), thereby saving you the money associated with lost customers. Keep in mind that over half of customers go elsewhere if a website doesn’t load within three seconds – in the attention economy, high-end web hosting is among your greatest assets.
Poor customer serviceIf your cheap hosting plan leads to website slowdowns or crashes, you might need to contact your web host’s customer service team for immediate assistance. But what if the team isn’t available? This worrying prospect is realistic with cheap hosting.
If you can’t reach your customer service team, your website could remain stuck crashed or slow-loading for hours or perhaps even days. The number of customers you lose during this time – and the amount of revenue that goes with them – may substantially outweigh the price difference between high-end and cheap hosting plans.
Poor scalabilityIf your customer base grows substantially after you purchase a cheap hosting plan, your plan’s bandwidth will likely fail to accommodate the attendant traffic influx. Here again lies another fast path to a slow or crashed website and tons of customer and revenue loss.
This poor scalability is part and parcel of cheap web hosting – and you can easily avoid it with higher-quality hosting. Many expensive plans have built-in flexibility that allows your bandwidth, security, and speed to grow as your business does, thus sustaining your website and your revenue.
Slow speedsPerhaps the most obvious flaw with cheap web hosting is its snail-paced website speeds. Nobody likes a slow website, not even Google – slow load speeds can lower your search engine rankings.
To keep your load times low, ditch cheap hosting and buy a plan with load speeds between 130 and 155 ms. Although the notion of load times below one second may initially seem like science-fiction, most higher-end options can easily achieve these speeds.
Trouble migrating your websiteBy now, you might realize that cheap hosting just isn’t the way. As such, if you’ve already opted for cheap hosting, you might see fit to upgrade your plan or switch providers. However, cheap web hosting plans often make doing so incredibly difficult in hopes that you’ll opt into one of their more expensive plans instead.
These concerns, though not immediately customer-facing, certainly have sales ramifications. Any obstacles you experience as you seek to improve your hosting can delay a top-notch website experience, and the longer the delay, the more customers you lose.
Woeful securityAlthough cheap hosting plans do have security features, these features are basic at best. If your first thought in response is, “Well, it would be incredibly random for a hacker to target my business,” that’s understandable, but you should think again. The cold, hard truth is that small businesses are the target of 71% of all cyberattacks. The hackers know that you think you’ll never be targeted -- so they target you! Cheap hosting plans lack features that can help successfully thwart these attacks.
What to look for in a hosting plan
A good hosting plan guards against all the above concerns via the following inclusions:
- Extensive security measures. If your company accepts payments on its website, your website must have an SSL certificate. You can often get this certificate with a high-quality web hosting plan.
- Hassle-free scalability and upgrades. A high-quality plan allows you to upgrade your services and bandwidth as needed. This way, as your company grows and your website receives more visitors, your website will remain stable.
- High uptime guarantees. Speaking of website stability, look for high uptime guarantees in your hosting plan. You don’t want 90%, 95%, or even 98%, which are all abysmally low scores. You need an uptime guarantee of at least 99.5%.
- Top-notch customer service. Whether your website is slowed to a crawl or entirely down, you’ll need expert assistance to solve the problem. This help is only possible with the extensive customer service access fundamental to top-tier hosting plans.
- Regular automatic backups. If your website crashes, then you might face your worst nightmare: The loss of all your information. Your web hosting plan should include regular automatic backups to safeguard against this cataclysmic possibility.
- A complete package. Your plan should come with all the above essentials, housed in one platform, provided with no additional fees.
Capitalize on your web hosting with JHD
A high-quality web hosting plan achieves a lot: Supreme bandwidth and speeds, round-the-clock uptime and customer service access, easy scalability, and numerous state-of-the-art security layers. With these measures in place, you have a firm foundation from which to build your website and make a lasting impression with customers.
Here at JHD, we’re experts in developing and designing secure, user-friendly, eye-catching websites for businesses of all stripes. We couple our expertise in logo design, branding, SEO and more with thorough knowledge of the most up-to-date website design, security, and development technologies and practices, thus allowing you to capitalize on your web hosting. Contact us today to learn more about how to find high-quality web hosting plans – and how we can be there with you every step of the way.