Why Web Hosting Is Important
Ok, I know what you’re thinking,why in the world are we talking about hosting in a blog that is so focused on digital marketing? Does web hosting impact digital marketing?
Because, hosting is the foundation for everything relating to your website, your visitor’s experience, lead generation, and lead conversions. All of these business objectives, and more will be impacted by the decisions that you make regarding your website’s hosting options.
The conventional wisdom is to find the least expensive hosting provider and drop that fresh new website on it. Hosting seems to, at first glance, to be a commodity. Something that is the same regardless of the company that you choose.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, undoubtedly there are hosting providers that run their business as a commodity, but there are hosting providers that provide real valuable differences to their clients.
How Does Hosting Impact Online Success
Let’s take a look at exactly what a hosting company does and why this is so important. When you sign up for a hosting service, you are essentially renting space on a server that is connected to the internet.
When someone types in your domain name (i.e. mycompany.com) that domain is pointed to the server that your website is on. The server then, recognizes that someone has requested to see a page from your website and delivers the page that they are requesting to see.
Now, this is a really simplified version of what actually happens, but it gives you the basic idea of what a hosting service does.
So, if your website is hosted with a company that isn’t using best practices, or isn’t concerned with the performance of its servers, your site, and more importantly the people visiting your site, are going to experience real frustrations.
What To Look At For Hosting
There are basically 3 ways that companies will set up a hosting package on their servers.
- Dedicated Server: In this setup your website will be the only website on the server. There are some obvious advantages of this type of a setup. First, because your site is the only one on the server, your site has all of the machine’s resources available to it. All of the memory, processor speed, and all of the resources coming to the machine, such as power and all of the bandwidth coming to the server from the internet. The downside to this setup, however, is that because your site is the only one on the server, the costs associated with having a server running and connected to the Internet is completely your responsibility. There are no other companies to share that cost with.
- Shared Server: In this setup your website is on a server with a number of other websites. The obvious advantage to this setup is that the cost of running the server is spread out over the number of different websites that are on the machine. This makes it much more cost effective to have your site connected to the Internet.
The downside to having a website in this environment is that first, you’re sharing all of the server’s resources across all of the websites that are being hosted on the server. In other words, the bandwidth, electricity, processor, and memory are all being shared. So, if there is a site, on the server that your site is on, that is receiving huge amounts of traffic, your site could end up suffering as a result of the majority of the resources going to that big site.
Secondly, a potential downside to having your site on a server with a number of other servers is that it could open your site up to potential security risks.
Let’s imagine for a second that one of the other websites, on this shared server, has been poorly developed and has a security flaw in it that gets exploited. This could potentially then allow hackers to gain access to your website. Now, if your site isn’t collecting user’s sensitive information then the downside to this setup isn’t as critical.
- Colocation Server:This setup has a privately owned server (your’s) that is hosted in a company’s data center. The advantage of this setup is that the company that owns the data center can take care of any maintenance / monitoring of the server, reducing the liability and responsibility of the company to keep the server up-to-date and patched for all potential viruses and your website is the only website on the machine.
How Does Hosting Impact SEO
The bottom line with hosting is its ability to deliver pages from your website quickly and to have your website available 24/7/365. This impacts your SEO because of Google’s overarching view of websites, in the context of high rankings, is that websites must provide a positive experience to the users.
So, if a user can’t access your site, or if the experience is frustrating because it takes too long for a page to be loaded or delivered, then the experience is poor and the chance of your site ranking well diminishes greatly.
The Need For Speed
In April of 2010 Google announced that they were including a new signal in their ranking algorithms: site speed. To quote Google on this “Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there”.
A Secure Web
Google has also told us that they are very focused on security, on the web. Again, quoting Google “…we’re also working to make the Internet safer more broadly. A big part of that is making sure that websites people access from Google are secure”.
Having a hosting environment that provides a better level of security will help you keep your site in line with the security that Google is looking for with all sites. We’ve also written more extensively about this on our blog.
Choosing a hosting environment is really important and not a decision that should be based on the cheapest solution. As you can see, this has an impact on everything that your business is trying to accomplish, online and could have negative impact on not just your site but on your marketing efforts as well.