Access is very important for your business and your website is on the frontline! When a prospective client is interested in your firm, your website is often the first stop.
But if your site is momentarily offline or just slow (happens more than most realize), potential clients won’t wait. They keep moving and you miss an opportunity. And it is preventable.
Your Website Services Need to Grow With Your Business
I’m not sure why most people feel this way, but webhost loyalty is practically a religion. I’ve been guilty, but as one who deals with clients’ webhosts, I lost my "religion." Instead it is about results; data-based decisions can help you avoid some of the "blind loyalty webhost" pitfalls.
An economical webhost or too small an account might hurt you by costing you potential clients. Uptime with the lower budget webhosts are prone to "outages" that are tough to catch. Additionally, most businesses are on shared webhosting and to make money, less responsible webhosts will oversell their space. When servers are overloaded with too many shared accounts, they are slow.
Recently I moved a client from a famous brand name webhost. I was surprised to see when I installed their website, their server added one second of download time. Given we only have three seconds before people will abandon your website, that was totally uncool. Moving the client to a business grade webhost that didn’t oversell sped things up to under two seconds. Cost difference? None; however, their site traffic was up.
Tools to Keep Them Honest!
Although a webhost is only one reason for a slow site, having it be temporarily offline is a red flag if it happens repeatedly. When potential clients go to your site, you don’t want them to encounter "timeouts" or slow loading pages because of a busy server. Here are some tools to help determine if a change is needed:
- Uptime Monitoring Tools. Use a monitoring service to alert you when your website is down. Most times (especially with shared webhosting) it will be short outages that resolve quickly. If you get three or more of these a month, it’s time to investigate. Pingdom has a no-cost uptime service (if you have Jetpack active, that has an option for monitoring.)
- Plugin Monitoring. With WordPress websites, most folks have several plugins installed. They do go bad or are poorly designed and need to be tracked. Use P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) to confirm they are performing well (or ask your web designer to run a scan.)
- Run a Speed Test. Make sure your website is optimized to download within three seconds. Pingdom has an accessible online tool. Website too slow? Hire a web designer or developer to optimize your website for speed.
You’re Growing – Time to Upgrade
When you started, the cost of a webhost account was your top consideration. But as your traffic stats go up, you need a reliable website. Any outages or slowdowns, or a problem with economical webhosts, are bad for business and your reputation.
It doesn’t matter how "nice" the customer tech is on the phone, your webhost account may be struggling to keep up. That is fine, your business is no longer the "casual blogger" type of those under $10 monthly which is what they are meant for. Business-grade webhosting is what most small businesses need.
- Shared webhosting. If you have serious traffic, this is not for you. However, if you are under 3K a month, it might be fine. Some webhosts promise not to oversell their servers; look for that statement guarantee. Price range should be about $25 for business grade shared hosting.
- Managed WordPress Hosting. If your site traffic tends to be a roller coaster, a solution like WPEngine or Pagely might be the way to go. Managed WordPress hosting providers do well with sudden spikes.
- Virtual Web Servers. Sharing isn’t always the best idea and your web designer may nudge you to upgrade to VPS. You have your own reserved memory, storage space and most importantly, no sharing with "neighbors" for the system resources. If you have multiple websites for your business, this is ideal. Look for phrases like "managed VPS" solutions.
- Dedicated Servers. If you have a lot of websites, this is definitely your speed. You need someone versed in managing a server to assist. Most small businesses will probably not need this option.
Those are the typical types of accounts with webhosts. Another tool you should consider if you have serious traffic and you want to guarantee your uptime is a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
My advice: don’t let brand loyalty overcome good business sense. Monitor your website with uptime monitoring tools, etc., so you have data to determine whether your account may need an upgrade or change in vendor. It’s a business decision.
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Nancy Seeger, the owner of Arts Assistance, believes website design is part of the marketing toolkit that attracts your audience. Their roster of clients includes a GRAMMY artist, coaches, small businesses and non-profits. Get web design insider tips to more easily manage your website and attract your audience.