It doesn’t really matter what you do or what you sell – you are in need of a professional website. There’s no question about it.
Why? – Well, because, people are addicted to the Internet. More than 2 billion humans use the Internet every day, and about 98% of them have at least once bought something online. So having this in mind, if you don’t really invest in your online presence, you’re basically turning your back to an insanely large market.
Everyone I know is constantly online. Whether they’re searching for something specific to buy, reading articles and blog posts, or just hanging out on social media – people are spending enormous amounts of their time surfing the Web.
They are accustomed to using the Internet in their everyday lives, which is great for anyone who has something to sell.
Even though it might not seem like it to some of you, but the Internet is shaping our opinions on what we like, what we dislike, and what we want to buy. It influences more sales than you think. For example, research has shown that in 2015 alone, 64% of all in-store sales were influenced by the Internet. That means that more than $2 trillion were spent solely on what people read online.
$2 trillion. In a single year.
And the best part of it all? – By 2017, there will be more internet traffic than ever before. More than all prior years combined. Which means that it will influence a whole lot of new sales.
I totally get that. I’m also hooked on the Internet.
You could say that I’m addicted to information and all the benefits that come with using the Web.
Even though I’m a person who remembers the time before the Internet – I can honestly say that I can no longer imagine my life without it. Today, it’s simply impossible for me to picture a world where I’m not able to acquire new knowledge about everything and anything I want in a matter of seconds. I also cannot imagine a scenario where’s impossible for me to instantly check my bank account, look at what’s coming to a local cinema this weekend, or order food in just a couple of clicks.
Having all this in mind, I think that we can easily agree on one thing – it’s of crucial importance that you, as a businessman who is looking to grow his (or her) company and generate new leads, truly invest in your online presence.
In a world where everyone has been given a chance to find their market and precisely targeted their desired customers on a local and global level, it’s basically dumb not make the most out of your opportunities.
Today’s customers, across all age brackets, use the Internet to find information about all types of products, services, and vendors. The Internet has given us, online businessmen, the opportunity to introduce ourselves to our potential consumers exactly when they’re searching for what we offer.
But, even though this sounds great, there are still various different factors that stand in our way of converting those leads into actual paying customers. First and foremost of all, our direct competitors.
Thanks to the popularity of Internet, there are literally hundreds and thousands of brands all across the world that are competing with you for those very same customers. Some of them are better than you, some are not, but still – they’re all standing in your way. They all stand between you and making tons of new sales. That’s why you need to do everything in your power to rise above the crowd and dominate Google’s SERP for desired short and long-tail keywords.
The best way to do that is to create a website and optimize the Hell out of it.
Having a SEO-friendly, great-looking, and professional website can get you far in this endless digital sea of possibilities.
There are literally hundreds of reasons why every business should own a professional website. Influence, credibility, accessibility, low barriers of entry, additional business value, company voice, marketing, communication with customers, customer support, press releases, direct way for your potential shoppers to get familiar with your brand, products, and services – these are just some of the main advantages of owning a professional looking website. The list goes on and on.
Naturally, building a great business site is just the first step on your road to success, but hey – you have to start somewhere, right? How else are you planning to build your online empire if you don’t first create a proper foundation for it?
Just like when building a house, when putting together a website – you should start from the bottom up. The first thing you need to focus on is web hosting.
Sure, the Internet is all about content, but let’s get real for a moment – it doesn’t really matter how good your material may be, if you don’t do a good enough job of making it accessible online to everyone that could be interested in what you have to say or sell, it’s basically useless. That’s why you shouldn’t really mess around when choosing a provider to host your business online.
The importance of choosing a good web host often takes a back seat to everything else concerning people’s websites. Even though we all know that reliable hosting is the cornerstone of every successful online business, it’s still something that comes last in our minds.
Making a decision which package and web hosting company to choose can be tough for a lot of inexperienced online businessmen. There are literally thousands of web hosting providers out there, and each and every one of them are promising 99% network uptime, unlimited resources, and top notch support.
Even though this might sound like you cannot possibly go wrong whichever provider you chose, the truth is – a lot of these hosts don’t really deliver on what they promise. Siding with a bad hosting company can harm your business in many different ways. If you, for example, have an online store and your site goes down – you could lose a lot of sales. Your customers won’t be able to view your content or learn more about your products and services, and thus – they won’t buy anything from you.
I remember the time when Amazon went down. As stated in their report, for those 40 minutes when their website was out of service, they lost around $4mil.
The horror, right?
But that’s not all. Terrible hosting can affect your business in a lot of other negative ways. It can destroy your SEO rankings, corrupt and lose your valuable data – the list goes on for ages.
That’s the question we’re are gonna answer in the remaining part of this post. How does a person figure out which web hosting provider and package works best for his or her needs?
Easily. First and foremost of all, you need to be clear about what kind of website you’re interested in building?
Before you start to even think about where to host your website, you need to have some idea on what you really need. Are you looking for something standard, or are you in need of something special? Are in need of some Windows applications o Linux? Any special software? What kind of traffic are you expecting to generate on your site?
Once you answer these question, you can move on forward and start to review hosting companies and plans to figure out which work best for your website.
You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where your hosting package isn’t strong enough to support your website. You need to be aware of any limitations that could prevent your website from operating effectively.
That’s why money should never be your top concern when choosing a web hosting option for your website. Your goal here is to figure out what works best for you. As a business, you cannot afford any downtime. Constant and fast accessibility should be the only thing on your mind here.
If your idea doesn’t require any special treatment, if you’re just looking to create a standard website for your business, you won’t really have any trouble finding what you’re looking for.
There are various standard web hosting options available for regular users, such as:
1. Shared Hosting – the cheapest and most popular option. You’re basically sharing a server with other customers of your provider. This is a solid option for small businesses and all those that are just starting. This option has its limits, which means that if you manage to really get your online business off the ground – you’ll outgrow its limitations. You’ll need to upgrade your service, which really brings us back to the questions above: “What kind of traffic are you expecting to generate on your site?”
Make sure that you truly understand the potential growth of your online business before you decide to go for this type of hosting.
2. VPS – a.k.a. Virtual private server, represents a virtual machine where customers have full control over everything. You can install whatever you want on it, as long as it’s compatible with its operating system.
3. Dedicated Servers – This is kinda self-explanatory. You’re renting an entire server for yourself, which means that you can host as many sites on it as you please. You have full access to its resources. This service is great for those clients that have big and popular websites that are in need of a lot of disk space. Dedicated servers tend to cost a bit more than other hosting services, but if you’re planning to really grow your website and earn some real money through it – you should go for this option.
4. Co-location hosting – when someone else services the server you provided.
These are the standard packages. Every single one of them can be managed and unmanaged. It all depends on your host. My advice is to always go for the managed option and search for hosting providers that offer 24/7 tech support. Why? – Well, because the Internet never sleeps. You never know when something could go wrong.
However, just like with everything else in web hosting, people tend to talk a big game that isn’t really based on fact. A lot of web hosting provider claim that they offer intelligent 24/7 support, but in reality, their customers have to wait ages until someone responds to their requests. And once someone does, they come into with a level 1 tech gate “expert” with an answer script, instead of a real engineer who knows what he or she is doing.
That’s why you shouldn’t take anyone’s word for it, and actually test the quality and response time of a certain provider’s support, before you commit to a certain brand and offer. Look for providers whose support team has actually been awarded or celebrated by the community.
This is extremely important. Making sure that your website is constantly online is your no.1 priority here. That’s why you should always look for providers that guarantee that your site won’t ever be offline. Even though every web hosting provider offers 99% network uptime, you need to be 100% sure if they’re telling the truth. Test their network, read user reviews online about their brand to see what’s really going there.
When you figure out what you want and what you need, it’s time to create a list of possible hosting companies that could host your website. Now, this is where things tend to get a bit tricky. The logical thing is to google each and every brand name on your list and read the first two or three reviews that you find on top of your search results, right? – Well, wrong.
Web hosting is a unique niche. In this extremely price competitive market where almost every company offers very similar services, a lot of brands know that the only way to get ahead of their competitors is to generate a lot of content that says only the best things about their business. Next to that, they also know that bad reputation basically means death in this niche, so they go out of their way to create and promote terrible reviews about their competitors.
The only way to truly check the quality of a certain provider’s service is to actually check for how long that specific brand has been in business and find genuine comments from their actual customers. Looking at various active client testimonials, checking maintenance schedules and actual downtime statistics – this is the only thing that will paint you an honest enough picture about the provider you’re interested in analyzing.
Thank your for taking the time to read this post. I hope it helped you understand how to maximize your online presence and tell apart those good web hosts from bad ones. If you have anything to add or ask on this subject – write your thoughts in the comments section below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
That’s it for now,
See you soon again,
Goran @ AltusHost B.V.
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