If you are a small business looking to start your first website, then you should decide if you want to pay a web programmer to build a website or do "shared hosting" Shared hosting means using a service to host, and possibly set up, your website, which will share a server with other businesses. There are many companies in the web hosting market, so you should do some comparison shopping based on their services, price and reviews. Read 8 Steps to find out how to obtain small business web hosting.
Step 1: Meet with your marketing team to discuss your budget and what features your website will need. For example, all websites should include a home page, contact page and technical support; however, others need email addresses, shopping carts, content management system, web analytics and blogs. Create a list of everything you need from a website before looking around, so you have firm parameters in mind.
- Consider including a page for articles or blogs. These features help to raise your ranking on Google and other search engines. Only choose to do a blog if you have an employee that will dedicate time to consistently posting content.
- Always include a contact page. This will also help you rank more highly on Google, because it gives them information to bring up if someone is looking for your location or phone number.
Step 2: Decide how much control you want to have with your website. Shared hosting services differ greatly when it comes to how easily you can edit your website. If you plan to update products frequently, you should look for something that offers a large amount of technical control, but if you are service-based and don't plan to update or blog often, you may not need much control.
A quick trial of any web hosting service will allow you to see how much of the content is created and controlled by the web hosting company's templates, and how much you can change. You will also get an idea about the ease of use.
Step 3: Ask other small business owners what they use for web hosting. Focus on businesses that are similar to yours, either service or product based. Good referrals to web hosting companies are an excellent place to start looking, comparing and getting quotes.
Step 4: Search the Internet using keywords that best fit what you are looking for. Try "cheap web hosting," "best web hosting," "web hosting services," and "small business web hosting." Make a list of all the web hosting services that seem to be in your price range or that carry the services you need.
Step 5: Get trial or demo versions of each of those website hosting services. Some services may provide a sales rep that you can talk to, and others just give you an automatic login, where you can go online. Try to reach someone in person so that you can talk through questions during the trial period.
Step 6: Quiz the customer service representative or sales representative about their product. This is the first test of how well the employees know their services, because you will be calling with technical problems. Ask them to tell you how they would provide the features you need, or if you would need to install them separately, such as a WordPress blog or PayPal feature.
- Check into the web hosting company's data center. Ensure they have high-speed connections, so that your website will perform well and load quickly. You should also check that their percentage of "up time" is around 99 percent, a percentage that takes into account how often they must shut down their hosted sites temporarily for maintenance.
- Look for services that have 24 hour technical support. Even if your customers do not buy their products directly from your site, an unavailable website looks poorly on the business, and it usually means you are losing money from sales. Quiz each potential company on their technical support.
Step 7: Make a pro and con list based on the trials you have done of web hosting services. You should arrive at the best choice for your company. Pay for the service on a monthly or yearly basis.
Step 8: Choose a website with a 90-day money back guarantee. Although you should be confident in the web hosting site that you use, it is smart to give yourself the opportunity to see how well this service works for your small business. Unlike large businesses, you do not have the money to waste on an ineffective website.