Almost every other day I find myself talking to a small business owner who is unclear what is entailed in their website hosting contract. Either we discover that they are over-paying a former website designer who was reselling services at a markup or the website hosting was not in the business owner’s name at all.  These are the worst situations.

I have pledged myself to help each one of my clients and any other small business owner who wants to learn the basics of website ownership. We are going to start with defining the basics and along the way, I will be recommending ways to regain and maintain full control over one of the most important marketing assets available to your business. Even more, I am committed to helping you learn how to use your website and online presence to your best advantage. There is no reason why even those with the most modest budgets can’t gain attention and new business with a well-focused website.

First, let’s start with website hosting.

What is Website Hosting?

Every website is hosted somewhere.  This means the structural and design files of your website live on a server computer somewhere.  The files should not live primarily on your computer or the computer in your web developer’s garage somewhere.

Hosting companies own, operate, and maintain powerful servers with redundant systems for back-up and security.  These alternate systems are ideally placed in vastly different geographic locations.  Not one of the east side, the other on the west side of town. No. We are talking both the east and west coast of the continental U.S., maybe one in the Mid-West, and more servers located in Europe and/or Asia.

Think of it this way, a massive hurricane strikes the eastern seaboard of the U.S .running up the coast disabling Miami, Atlanta, New York and everything in between. It’s a good thing your website files are backed up by servers in Colorado to pick-up for the power outages in Atlanta. Luckily, the servers in Singapore have your back as well.

“I’ll Host Your Website Myself”

If your website developer is telling you that he is hosting your website, either there is gross negligence or he is simply re-selling hosting space on one of these larger entities.

Call me crazy, but I don’t trust solo cowboys, even if they are disguised as a sizable website development agency. Push back and ask lots of questions about staff size and physical locations.  Ask exactly where each of the redundant systems are located for his “hosting service.”

Better yet, move your WordPress website to a highly reputable, standard hosting company such as WP Engine, Dreamhost, BlueHost, Hostgator, or Go Daddy, to name some of the most popular.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is by far the most common type of website hosting contracted by businesses today. Unless your company is of a massive size or has extraordinary security needs, there is no reason to pay the costs of a dedicated server.

A host server has a very large capacity while the average website requires only a small fraction of that space. In the shared hosting environment, several websites share the same server, however, each is securely partitioned within that server.   The system administrator in charge is responsible for making all operational decisions to maintain speed, performance, and security, while minimizing the downtown experienced by websites sharing the server.

Most business owners and even website developers and online marketers do now have the capacity to attend to this critical task. It is best left to a company dedicated to this one area of service.

Managed WordPress Hosting

If your business website on WordPress is anything more than a simple blog, you should seriously consider the benefits of Managed WordPress Hosting.

With an ever-increasing number of websites online built on the WordPress platform most of the standard hosting companies are developing concierge-style hosting packages to serve the specific needs of the WordPress environment.

The best of them have created a dedicated team of WordPress technical experts and servers configured to provide high speed and maximum security for WordPress sites. The team of experts tends to daily back-ups, WordPress updates, and premium customer support which provide ultimate peace of mind for a business owner.

Is it Worth the Extra Money?

Shop around. You will see that you can still get cheap website hosting for $2.95/month. Why should you consider spending more money on managed hosting?  Money saved pays more bills than “peace of mind,” right?

  • Speed: Managed WordPress hosting servers are configured to provide fast response and performance. Not only does this improve your viewer experience, but it keeps your website in the best graces of search engines and helps with optimization.
  • Security: Because the hosting team of WordPress experts stays on top of the open-source code, your website benefits from a near hacker-proof, water-tight security layer that is always on alert for malware and hacking intrusions.
  • Low or No Downtime: Even traffic spikes aren’t going to break your site. If any downtime does occur, your site is restored in minutes if not seconds.
  • Automatic Updates: WordPress sites that are not updated with each new version are likely to break down and have security breaches.  With versions coming out every few months (and even weeks), it is critical that your site is updated in real time.
  • Daily Back-Ups:  While there are other plug-ins and means to maintain daily back-ups, the bank of daily backups available with targeted restore points is a substantial time-saving and security feature.
  • Premium Support: When the help desk team knows WordPress inside and out problems are solved quickly and advice is freely given to avoid issues that might impact your website performance before they happen. Even your team’s IT or web designer is grateful for access to this deep bench of expertise.
  • Additional Tools:  The dashboard for Managed WordPress Hosting usual offers other time-saving tools and features that will save you money in the long run such as staging sites, version control, quick launch and transfer tools.

There HAVE to be some CONS

  • The Price:  Managed WordPress hosting is sometimes significantly more expensive than simple shared hosting.  WP Elevation is considered the industry Gold Standard. They work ONLY with WordPress hosting and are scalable up to massive-sized websites.  Their start-up plan is $35/month.  Go Daddy offers a more modest basic plan at $7.99/month. Both prices are quoted before sign-on discounts and include a different range of features.  You get fewer features with Go Daddy’s Basic plan at a fraction of the cost. Yet, both offer the features mentioned previously.  The cost of other hosting companies managed WordPress packages fall anywhere in between $7.99 and $35 per month.
  • Limits:  These servers are structured to specialize in serving WordPress to its best advantage. Most limit their use to WordPress only and may limit the use of plugins that might slow down your site speed.
  • Less Control:  By the nature of the hosting package, you have someone else, a WordPress expert at your hosting company, managing all the technical decisions for the service. This can drive hard-core developers crazy.  But for a business owner who might need to pay someone else anyway to make these decisions, isn’t that a plus?