It is often difficult to convince online business owners how important their hosting is to the profitability of their corporate website or online store. They are so used to the main hosting companies offering free hosting with the purchase of a domain that is worth 15 euros a year or vice versa, hostings for 1 euro a month in which the domain is free, that when you tell them that they should opt for a hosting that can range between 14 and 25 euros a month or more , they throw their hands at their heads and even distrust that you are kidding them. In this post we will explain how to choose a hosting in 2020, starting with the implications that hosting has on the performance of a website, and continuing with the factors of a website that determine the type of hosting they should choose.
What is this post talking about?
How does the hosting we choose affect our online business?
It does not matter if we sell products online or that our website serves to attract request forms for information: if our website influences our billing as a company, you need adequate hosting. But why?
Number of users who leave the web without buying or requesting information
Hosting directly affects a parameter that influences the percentage of users who end up buying online, sending requests for information or doing what we expect them to do through our website (globally called conversion): the user experience .
Let’s remember: a web conversion can be a phone call or an email to request information that is done because the user has seen the number or email address on the web, a contact form, a purchase, a subscription to a newsletter … Whatever we want the user to carry out in our website, which can be more than one type of action.
User experience is the positive or negative perception that a user acquires on a website. And in this perception, the first thing that impacts is the loading speed of a website. Later, more factors may intervene that also affect it, but this is the fundamental one, because it is what determines whether a user starts browsing a website, something that gives them an opportunity to convince them to make a conversion, or to abandon it without carry out any interaction on it, not even scroll to see the content of the first page you visit. This is called the bounce rate, and it is one of the analytics with which that positive perception, the user experience, is measured.
The bounce rate is very high on slow webs. And a slow web is considered one that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Yes, 3 seconds. It may seem like an exaggeration, but it has been shown that more than half of users bounce a website if it takes longer. In other words: we will be losing more than half of the users who can potentially become customers.
To this proportion of users who leave instantly , we have to add those who initially have the patience to wait for the web to load but after a couple of clicks within the web they stop have it. In this case they will not do a conversion either.
The explanation of this user behavior is simple. As users, we are used to visiting many websites a day and spending little time on them (except social networks, for example). Therefore, if a website does not offer us what we are looking for in record time, with a fast load and with a unpublished, relevant and useful information , going back and trying another is very easy, with one or two clicks.
The user experience , which, as we say, influences the loading speed, not only impacts users who leave a website without making any conversion. It also does it in SEO (positioning in Google), that is, in the number of users who reach the web. If our website is going to have less visibility and many of the users who come to it are going to abandon it, the potential conversion rate is affected twice. Imagine if, in addition, we are doing a advertising campaign on Google, Facebook, Instagram , etc .: we will be paying a high volume of clicks that, in advance, we know will go to waste.
This is because Google increasingly tries to offer in its ranking a classification that responds to the service that a website provides to the user. That is why the speed of the web and other derived analytics such as the time that a user spends on a web (little if the user leaves it immediately), among others, have a great importance in your algorithm . We have verified this by comparing the number of keywords of a website on the first page of Google and its traffic of visits before and after switching to a high-speed hosting.
A web, therefore, should ideally load in one or two seconds .
Eye! Even the best hosting will not reduce loading time to 1-2 seconds on certain types of websites: loading time also has to do with how a website is built . If it has a code or plugins that require the hosting to work a lot (multiple calls to a database), for example, it can be as slow as a better website built with a lower performance hosting. It’s basically like using a fast car but hitching a trailer to it.
Keeping our website updated
A website must be permanently updated to avoid failures and even security holes. This means updating WordPress, PHP (the type of language WordPress is made with), database (where the pages made from WordPress are located), updating the template (and debugging code if this update requires it), having installed reliable plugins and update them (often for a fee) every time the provider releases a new version, etc.
In each update it is important to either make a copy of the web in parallel and test it first on that copy and then hang it instead of the current web, or at least have a recent backup, which is usually done the hosting if it has this option, to be able to restore it instead of the current web if the update fails. This is usually especially necessary in the case of websites with many plugins, and with plugins that make all the functionality of the website depend, such as WooCommerce (in online stores) and plugins that translate into other languages (such as WPML).
Many hostings do not have regular backups (some even offer them and others do them once a month or week, something insufficient if our website has -Shopping changes every day, forms, etc.), and very few offer a system to restore backups that is simple or they take care of it.
There are many businesses that have had serious problems with their website that have led to a bad image to your customers and cost overruns not have a hosting to make recent backups or for not offering support reraise or how to do it easily self.
Security against viruses and server crashes
Most commercial hosting plans are on shared servers. This means that the hosting company hosts our website on servers where it hosts other websites. This means that any problems you have a personal website hosted on the same server can affect ours, such as virus attacks the server or slow loading or affect the operation of the web or directly shall fall because another web of the same server monopolizes all the resources (because it has higher visitor traffic, because it has more plugins installed, etc.). Given this, hosting companies are not usually responsible. Again, it is important to know that they have regular backups to restore them if you can not retrieve the current version and a support that resuba or an easy way to do it ourselves.
Not the first time a web affected by a problem generated by another on the same server must develop its website from scratch because it has been impossible to get rid of a virus in your database, for example, has erased much part of your web files.
For this reason, the ideal is to hire a hosting plan that is dedicated, that is, that our website is the only one on the server. There is also an intermediate option, which is a VPS (Virtual Private Server or virtual private server), which is a server that hosts many websites at the same time but with a compartmentalisation system that protects a website.
Comfort on websites that are continuously updated
Good hosting can offer a easy to handle test environment, through cloning of our website in which we can carry out changes without users see them until all are finished. This is important on websites that are constantly updating and expanding their content. For example, if we want to tweak the design of a website, we will probably want that if someone is online, they will not see the tests that are done on the fly; We will prefer to have an environment that allows us to test the changes and publish them all at once.
How do I know what hosting my website needs?
We have already said that it is important that our hosting is fast , that it offers periodic backups, and that if possible it offers a test environment . But surely many who are reading this post will wonder how they know if a hosting will be fast, or how often they will need a backup, for example. Or they will have read in the hosting plans concepts such as MySQL databases, GB of storage, GB of transfer, SSL certificate, PHP, or number of email accounts.
What is NOT important in most cases (and is usually used as a hook)
To begin with, we should know that most of the cheap commercial hostings offer by default plans that are NOT suitable for business websites. We can check this by seeing what they prioritize and what they omit. They tend to prioritize and use as a hook features such as:
- A large number of email accounts: to start it is often not necessary and even desirable to store mail and web hosting files in one. Use a company for one thing and one for the other. This is usually what companies that have email contracted with Microsoft do, for example, because they have centralized licenses for Word, Outlook, Dropbox and cloud storage in a single fee. In this case we will not need the web hosting company to include us email accounts. In addition, if we are SMEs often do not need as many offer 10 accounts, simply less and generate alias)
- A space in very high server (GB storage): most websites take up very little space on a server, so if we offer as a hook to have 25GB of storage really we were not going to be interested. Only a web with many files (for example, an online diary) or very large files (to be avoided because they affect the SEO -there to optimize images so they take up little space, for example) need a large storage space.
- transfer volume very high data (GB transfer): only websites with traffic much (and this must be realistic) or very large files (not only affect space as stated above transfer but if they are downloadable and we foresee that many users do) will need a high volume of data transfer. If we contract mail linked to web hosting and we have several accounts then a high volume of transfer may be necessary, because it includes the data that is transferred when opening and sending emails. Godaddy says in this post What is the volume of data transfer.
What does matter in most cases (and not usually included in normal plans)
We have already seen that hosting companies prioritize things that are not very necessary. This is because they are cheaper and serve as a hook. On the other hand, the most important features are more expensive and are offered in the background because they cost more to sell, since, as we said at the beginning, many companies do not understand their importance. Some of these benefits are:
- Dedicated Hosting or VPS: this is not specified from the outset, because all cheap hostings, which are the ones that hosting companies are interested in advertising, are shared. You have to rummage through their professional plans to find dedicated hosting options. They are usually in separate sections. Obviously if we ask they will always tell us that their servers are very safe and that a dedicated hosting is not essential, but due to the number of clients who come to us so that we can save their website from a security failure caused by another website on shared hosting we know that these errors are not remote.
- Cdmon, for example, offers dedicated hosting for 12 euros per month (paid annually) here . Ionos has this type of hosting for 24 euros per month, as you can see here or basic VPS for 5 euros per month, here Godaddy offers VPS for 17.99 euros per month (4.99 euros if we do not need a control panel -option that only computer scientists accustomed to managing servers can afford-). Hostalia charges 11.21 euros per month on a VPS. Nominalia has dedicated servers from 28 euros per month and VPS for 7.50 euros, which can be configured here .
- Sufficient RAM: a website that is translated into several languages, or that has an online store, or that has many plugins installed, or that is built with a template that does not have the code debugged ( here we explain the difference between websites with clean code and websites made with templates) you will need enough RAM memory that cheap plans do not offer (they are usually a maximum of 512MB). The minimum is usually 1GB or 4GB in the case of online stores that in turn are in several languages, but a web diagnostic is necessary to know the memory resources it consumes to decide how much RAM you need.
- Insufficient RAM memory for the characteristics of the web will slow down a web and may even cause crashes, as happens, for example, with a computer that has many open programs. And as we explained at the beginning, loading speed is essential on a professional website.
- A high RAM is usually linked to a dedicated hosting or VPS, so if we hire one it is very likely that it already has a good RAM memory. This is so because in a shared hosting where all the websites use the same RAM, it cannot be so high that part or all of these websites can enjoy it. Sometimes they even offer too much RAM for what is needed, and this increases the price of these types of plans. The ideal is a dedicated server that has 1 to 4 GB, and thus enjoy an intermediate price, but this does not usually happen. It goes from one extreme to the other.
- Cdmon’s dedicated servers have 16GB of RAM, for example. Godaddy VPS offer 4GB of RAM and Ionos offer 2GB.
- SSL Certificate (https): Although it is incredible, there are still hosts that charge separately for the installation of the SSL certificate, which certifies that the website is secure. This is essential on a website, because users already tend to distrust websites that do not have the typical padlock next to the address bar and Google itself penalizes that a website does not have it in its positioning. This would be included in the factors that measure the user experience that we explained, in addition to the loading speed. We must choose hostings that have this option, and if not, we will have to add the price of their inclusion to our budget.
- PHP permanently updated: many hosting have versions of PHP (the language that WordPress uses) outdated. If, for example, our website uses PHP7 and the hosting offers PHP5, we can find ourselves in trouble, because this affects the security of the website and the loading speed. We must make sure that the hosting offers the version of PHP that our website uses. Some do it at a separate cost.
- Periodic backup copies: not all websites will need daily backups (although from experience we know that on some occasions all websites need to go to the most recent copy, and have the one of the day above has been a great advantage for them), but at least it will be necessary for them to have a weekly or monthly, depending on the periodicity with which they update content (blog posts, changes on the web, forms in case they are stored on the web, etc.)
What else to take into account when choosing a web hosting?
There are other factors to take into account when hiring a hosting, and some of them can only be seen by looking at user opinions online or with free demonstrations (for example, plans with a guarantee of cancellation and money back ). Some examples are:
Good technical support: a professional website may need to consult the technical service of its hosting several times a year, so it is essential that it be fast and effective. It is not always necessary that it be by phone, for example. Many hostings serve very satisfactorily via chat, such as Arsys, or via ticket (sending incidents via email or form within the user panel). Most of the well-known commercial hostings, cheap or not, offer a satisfactory technical service.
Easy-to-use control panel: Hosting companies usually offer to manage the hosting either a well-known tool called cpanel or their own environment. Cpanel can be a good option for those who have used it before, but many have their own panel that usually takes time to figure out and is often authentic hieroglyphics. In fact, in some cases, the developers of a website charge the hosting upload separately when they finish it if the client has hired hosting companies with complex control panels that require a high investment of time. There are hosting options that do not even have a control panel, so you have to be a specialist to handle it.
Free migration: many hostings offer free migration, something that is interesting when considering hiring a hosting. But it must be taken into account that some do not do the migration themselves, but rather guide their clients to do it via telephone or other support, so if we have difficulties to do so, we will end up going to a professional migration service.
Reinforced security environments: it is important that a hosting offers extra antivirus and anti-hacker protection.
Sitelabs Hosting Recommendation
In Sitelabs We have tested all types of hosting over the years, weighing the pros and cons of each one, and obviously we do not recommend to our clients hosting that we would not use ourselves for our own websites.
The best option that we use for this same website, which is our main tool for generating new clients, is a own hosting , which we began to offer in view of the little flexibility of options that we see and that we have commented. Offers:
- Dedicated server
- Intuitive control panel
- Unlimited data transfer (GB)
- From 4 GB of storage
- From 1 GB of RAM
- Free SSL certificate
- > PHP updated
- Daily backups (internal and external)
- Free and instant-build sandbox
- Antivirus and anti-hacker protection
This hosting is linked to a web technical maintenance service whose price is from 29 euros per month . We offer this pack because most companies that have difficulties to select and manage a good hosting also have them to update WordPress, the template, the plugins, etc., and this service includes all this.
We offer it without an email plan , since most websites only need an account (which is usually offered free with the domain, which costs 15 euros per year -Cdmon, for example, does-) and make aliases (other non-mailbox addresses redirected to that one account) and they can configure it in their Gmail email. In this way we can offer a more competitive price.
Web maintenance plans