Written by Adam Gatenby, Digital Director at Better.
Website hosting can often seem quite daunting and confusing, but it’s a vital part of making a well designed and coded website perform effectively. Slow or ineffective hosting can increase drop off rates, security risks, and can even have an impact on your search engine rankings.
From Cloud to VPS, Shared to Dedicated servers, there are lots of hosting options available to suit sites of different scale, popularity and technologies.
With some hosts offering deals from just £1 per month in a very competitive marketplace, it can often be hard to compare between hosting deals and to know what the right choices are to suit your website.
What is website hosting?
Let’s start with the basics.
A website host is made up of one or many servers (highly customised computers) which store website files and data. Your domain name (the www.name.tld bit) references an address (an IP address). So when a user visits your domain, the internet browser finds the address, directing it to a server, in order to then request the website it’s trying to visit. Files and data are then delivered back to the web browser and displayed.
Just like your computer, the servers run certain software which help keep it safe, as well as run tasks such as email hosting, backups etc. Your website is likely to also have a database to store its data, which can be hosted on the same server, or another. All these options depend on the technology and scale of your website.
The benefits of good quality website hosting
The benefits of a good website host can make or break the success of your website, and could help generate more leads or convert more customers.
Having a well performing server should mean you have a fast loading website, which should help attract and retain users. Typically, we see over 50% of users visiting websites from mobile devices, often on the move, using mobile data connections. This makes performance vital, as on average, only 40% of users are impatient and will wait more than 3 seconds for a site to load.
Website speed across mobile, tablet and desktop devices is also taken into account by search engines such as Google.
This is broken down into two main readings, which is server response time (the time it takes the server to return the first byte of data), as well as page load time. Using a combination of Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics should allow you to measure and review your current website speeds and performance. [links?]
Finally, having a secure website and server will also help users and search engines trust your website. Keeping viruses, spam, malicious attackers and visitors away form your website will help protect your website’s authority and reputation. In recent years, there has been a big push on websites being delivered over a secure connection using HTTPS, which Google has started to take in to account when assessing and ranking your website (we’ll tell you more about this in another post soon).
What makes a good website host?
Keeping the benefits in mind, there are some items which are essential. Others are dependant on the scale, use and popularity of your website. These include the following:
- Speed & Performance – The spec and performance of the server(s) which host your website. This often determines how fast your website loads. Considering the geographical location of your server can have an impact, too.
- Storage – The amount of storage space you’ll need to store your website and data
- Bandwidth – The amount of data sent and received from your website – this correlates to the size and popularity of your website
- Security – This can often depend on your hosting setup, support, and infrastructure around this. Ultimately, you need to ensure your website and its data is secure, as well as protecting it from common attacks including DDoS attacks [link?], spam emails (sending from your server), phishing scams and more. Regular security updates of server software will be required to keep it safe from the latest vulnerabilities.
- Backups – Regular backups of your website allow you to recover files fast if the worst happens. Keeping backup data off site or away from your server is advised.
- Support & Monitoring – Maintenance support and monitoring is essential to any website to ensure it’s online, operating efficiently, and regular software updates and hardware upgrades are made when necessary.
Need help with your website hosting?
If your website isn’t packing a punch, we can help. We work with our hosting partners to tailor our clients’ server needs to suit their website’s technology, scale and purpose, ensuring their data is safe, backed up regularly, and their websites stay online and are performing well.
If you’d like to speak to us about your website and website hosting, call us on 01642 989158 or drop us an email and we’ll get back to you.
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