Building a website takes a fair amount of time and effort. After all, you want to show your business in its very best light. You’ll spend hours making sure that the images and content are just right and you’ll undoubtedly check out what your competitors are up to as well. That can give you some great insights as to how to make your brand stand out.

What you probably haven’t spent much time mulling over, is the question of where to host your website? It’s very often a rushed decision, with the focus purely on getting the site published. After all, the sooner it’s online, the sooner it’ll start attracting keen and motivated customers. And after that, it’s all plain sailing.

Except that really isn’t how it works.

Your choice of web hosting provider is absolutely key to the success, or otherwise, of your online presence. It’s the link between your site and the visitor’s browser. If it’s slow, unreliable, or too complex to understand, you and your online business are in trouble!

There are a number of important points to consider when choosing a web hosting provider. Price will obviously be a factor, but as with most things in life, the cheapest option isn’t always the best. Other things you should think about include:

Speed

Time is money and this is particularly true of the online world. The ability to call up products, services and information online within the blink of an eye has made us all impatient. It’s a widely-known fact that websites should aim to load within just three seconds. But were you aware that 90% of your web visitors will abandon your site if it hasn’t loaded within five seconds?

Slow loading speeds don’t just frustrate potential customers. Google takes a very dim view of sites that don’t load quickly, marking them down in the search engine results. And that’s going to cost you even more business in the long run.

Bandwidth and disk space

Some cheaper hosting plans limit the amount of space on the server that your files can occupy. Although that might seem a cost-effective option when you’re starting out, you could be limiting the scope of your business from the outset. Exceeding metered usage agreements can cost you dearly, not just in fees, but also in lost business opportunities if your site goes down. So aim for unlimited bandwidth and disk space, to give your business the very best chance of success.

Security

Hackers are always on the lookout for ways to access private data. Security breaches can cause significant damage to your business, as well as its long-term reputation. But keeping servers updated with security features and ensuring that everything runs smoothly 24/7 is beyond the scope of most small businesses. So check out the security features offered by your web hosting provider to make sure that your data, and that of your customers, is kept private and safe.

Scalability

When you’re first venturing online, you won’t be anticipating huge volumes of traffic – at least, not initially. Whether you’re starting a blog, or setting up a small ecommerce business, it takes time to start building up a reputation online. But you’re sure to be hoping that your web traffic will increase over time as people get to hear about your site. So make sure you choose a web hosting provider that can provide seamless upgrades when you need them. That way, your site will keep on being able to carry out its purpose without any costly disruptions.

User-friendly controls

You’ve set up in business or started a blog, and that’s where your talents lie. But unless your business or blog is based around digital technology, there’s a good chance that you have very little understanding of servers and how they operate. So you’ll need access to a highly-intuitive interface that lets you do everything you need to with the minimum of fuss.

Customer support

There are bound to be times when you need some help or advice with your website hosting. And you certainly won’t appreciate being put through to someone who assumes you’re got a high-level qualification in ‘geek speak’! So make sure that your web hosting provider offers friendly, helpful support that will be able to guide you through any issues you’re experiencing with your site.

The more time you spend checking the services, quality and reputation of your web hosting provider, the better the outcomes for the future of your online business.