With dozens, if not hundreds, of popular web hosts to choose from picking the right one for your website or blog can seen an overwhelming task. Depending on the type and size of website you plan to run you may find yourself needing features offered by only a handful of top hosting companies. A wide selection of emerging server types, like cloud servers and virtual servers, are greatly beneficial but also serve to complicate your decision in picking the right host. Follow these tips to determine which type of hosting you should order and how to pick the very best web host for your content.
Determine Your Specific Needs
All blogs and websites should be hosted on servers through companies that meet their specific needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to web hosting. Some websites will require unlimited bandwidth to serve tens or hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors. Other sites don’t get as much traffic but require large amounts of storage space to host media and other files.
The first step to take to determine your website’s needs is to estimate how much traffic you will likely receive. There are empirical, field-tested methods of estimating traffic levels for a new website, so luckily you’re not totally playing a guessing-game with this task.
Start by using Google Trends to search for keywords within your site’s niche. This free online tool will help you get an idea of how many people are searching the keywords you will be using on your website. If your primary keyword is only being searched by 1000 to 2000 people per month, then you’re not likely to exceed that number in monthly organic search traffic. There are other factors to consider, such as social sharing and non-search traffic but this is a good way to start getting a ballpark idea of your potential market size.
Next, perform a Google, Yahoo, or Bing search for your site’s keywords to get an ideal of your competition. Run each site through a traffic analyzer like Alexa to determine how much traffic a website or blog like your own will likely receive.
Empowered by the knowledge of how much traffic you’ll likely see, you can now make a highly informed decision about which hosting company to go with.
Understanding Hosting Solutions to Make the Right Choice
Finding the right host is a task made easier by getting a good understanding of hosting solutions. The most popular hosting solutions are shared hosting, cloud hosting, and VPS hosting. Each of these three options is offered by most major hosts in various pricing tiers.
Cloud web hosting companies can provide scalable virtual servers that expand to meet your site’s dynamic needs. This is a great choice for websites with variable peaks in traffic. Look for hosts with low-cost cloud hosting plans if you would rather pay only for the services you use.
Shared hosting plans are traditionally the most popular option for smaller and medium-sized websites and blogs. You can get a shared hosting plan on most hosts for less then $15 per month. Many hosts offer unlimited storage space and bandwidth on shared hosting plans, so be sure to compare these specifications as well as pricing.
Larger websites and those expecting monthly traffic in the hundreds of thousands will require a solid hosting company with VPS hosting or dedicated servers. Check to see what kind of solutions your potential web hosts offer for large sites and those with high traffic level. Look for hosts that offer dedicated IP addresses, uncapped bandwidth, and professional level tech support if you are running a large or complex website.
Look at Customer Service and Refund Policies
Before deciding which host to use make sure you look for a good refund policy that will allow you to recover your investment if things don’t work out. Most reputable hosts allow you to get a refund within the first few weeks of service.
Going through a Terms of Service page can be a little tedious, but it’s definitely worth doing before choosing your hosting company. All web hosts offer a Terms of Service which describes things like disc and bandwidth usage allotments, uptime levels, and customer service expectations. You may also find some hosts don’t allow online stores or reselling of accounts, while other hosts are friendly to these ventures. Knowing the terms of your host, and not just the 4 or 5 selling points they advertise on their front page, will help you make the right choice.
Look for hosts with live chat customer service support. Live agents are often able to help with billing issues, basic tech questions, and resetting login information. Many hosts utilize an email ticketing system for more advanced support questions. If a ticket system is in place to contact support, ask what the standard response times are to make sure you’re never left in the dark.
Inspect Bonus Features of Hosting Companies
If you’re running a website on WordPress or a similar Content Management System then you should look for a host that offers CMS optimized hosting. This can help make installing your CMS easier, and provide SEO benefits. Some hosts offer in-house website builders to help you create your own website without a CMS. This is a huge plus for anyone looking for creative and unique website designs without the need for constant updates to an external CMS core.
If automatic backups of your website’s content is appealing then check out some of the hosts offering that service, along with website security checks and other safeguards to protect your data and content.
By knowing your website’s likely bandwidth and storage requirements you can make an informed decision about which type of hosting to purchase. After reviewing hosting companies that offer solutions meeting your specific needs, you can compare pricing and bonus features like site-builders and automatic backups.