What To Consider When Choosing A Good, Low Cost Web Hosting for Your Small Business Site

It can be hard choosing the best web host for a blog or small business website. There are tons of web hosting companies with a catch for unsuspecting small businesses. They will tell you that they offer unlimited server space and unlimited bandwidth plus a cheap monthly payment. Beware! It’s not all about size. You can get all those from any web hosting company BUT be sure that the company has proven records of consistent delivery. To help you, this checklist will tell you what to look out for before deciding on the best web hosting service for your small business.

Overview: How To Find the Best Web Hosting Service That’s Right for Your Small Business Website or Blog

Choosing the best and affordable web hosting for your small business website (or a personal blog) can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not tech savvy. It can take a lot of asking from people you know, checking out best web hosting reviews as well as making a list and comparisons of top web hosting package.

And God help you if, after all that, you don’t get sucked into buying an unreliable web hosting service.

how to choose a good web hosting to buy

There are far too many information available on how to find the best cheap web hosting for small businesses, yet only few provide objective reviews on cheap web hosting companies and services. Thus, many small business owners buy bad hosting and their websites suffer many days of down time.

What you need is a checklist of things to look out for when considering to buy the best web host for your small business website. There are so many web hosting companies and each one offers interesting plans, sometimes really cheap and often with similar offerings.

In this post, you have that checklist of 11 factors to consider in order to ensure that you choose the best cheap web hosting service for your business. Use this checklist as a benchmark to look at each potential web host side by side, comparing their hosting packages, prices, support, service levels, facilities and performance history, terms of service and more.

Here we go:

11 Steps to Choosing the Right Web Host for Your Small Business Website

 A. Price and Payment Plans of Web Hosting

Step #1: Price and Hosting Payment Plans

Although price is an important factor in deciding on a suitable web hosting service, let your decision be guided first by the quality factors (below), so that you will get a good web hosting service PLUS at an affordably cheap price.

Beware! Many hosting companies with poor facilities, frequent down-times and inadequate service delivery are using low price (and excessively large web server space) to lure ignorant small businesses. There are top web hosting companies that offer even cheaper web hosting.

In terms of pricing, only go with a hosting company that offers diverse payment plans, including monthly payment. That will allow you to try the service for a short time (and small fee) before committing long term upfront payments. There’ve been cases where website owners pay for a service long term, only to discover later that the hosting service quality is poor. Thus, they get stuck there until their payment expires.

B. Features of Good Web Hosting Services

2. Hosting Plans, Shared or Dedicated Server Space?

You should not go for a “one size fits all” hosting service. You don’t want to be paying for huge server space when you only need a small fraction of that. Start with a plan that suits your current needs’; you can upgrade later.

Confirm that the hosting company offers a wide range of hosting plans categorized by data size and bandwidth, so that you can pay only for what you’ll consume. Your present website traffic volume, type of data (videos, text, images etc.) and size of data (and pages) on your website is what will determine your specific web hosting requirements.

New and small business websites are not resource intensive and so do not usually need a dedicated server space. At least, not for some time. Don’t be dragged into paying for a dedicated server when you only need shared hosting.

3. Standard Control Panel and Ease of Use

Control Panel (or cPanel, for short) is used by the top and best web hosting companies because it is beginner-friendly and makes it easy for the customer to use the backend features and controls, without a need for a learning curve. You don’t want to buy a web host only to get confused about how to log in and navigate through the features and controls from your dashboard.

For example, I use Hostgator, which has one of the simplest cPanels. I am a tech noob but on my very first login, it didn’t take my a second to see the video and tutorials – all I needed to do was watch the video tutorial to getting started, and the ones for specific topics. All the tabs for you to make your settings and options are labelled and placed in a conspicuous location that you can’t miss.  In fact, they even have the “Live Chat” icon strategically placed so that you can click and get real time step-by-step help with a human support staff, any time you get stuck.

4. One Click Blog Installation Software

Today, every one and their grandmother have websites. Why? Because you do not have to know all the difficult technical steps or hire a techie before you can install your website software (e.g. WordPress). Thanks to good web hosting providers.

Fantastico is the most popular installation software that only the top web hosting companies provide, in order to make it easy for their customers to install website / blog applications in just a few mouse clicks. I don’t know how I would have survived setting up my blog, without Hostgator’s Fantastico Deluxe tool.

5. Script Version

By all means, find out which script version the web hosting company is running – ask their customer service staff. Avoid web hosting companies that are running older versions of PHP. As at the time of writing this post, PHP 5 is the latest version but some web hosts are yet to start using it.

C. Quality Of Service Levels, Facilities and Performance

6. Trial and Money Back Guarantee

Good web hosting providers offer a trial period (at least 30 days) to enable potential customers test-drive their services at a discounted cost, before deciding to pay for longer term. Be sure to find a web hosting company that, in addition to that, offers to refund you 100% of your money back, in case you

Money Back Guarantee: If a web hosting company is providing money back guarantee it means they are confident of their service levels. Read their terms of service and confirm that if after certain number of days, you are not comfortable with the web hosting service, you can always get your money back.

Hostgator offers a 1 cent trial using a special coupon code (“NOW1CENTHOSTING”) and 45 days money back guarantee if you find their service unsatisfactory.

7. Is It Easy To Upgrade to A Different Hosting Plan?

Unfortunately, some web hosting companies make it a pain for their customers to upgrade from one hosting plan to another. Customers’ needs and capacity requirements change over time, for many reasons. Always confirm this from the customer service via live chat or phone.

Before deciding on a hosting company, be sure that the web host operates a stress-free upgrade, should you start getting massive website traffic and increased data size. Do not be tricked into buying a dedicated hosting plan, for a start – buy your size now, and upgrade later, when you need to.

8. Historical Reliability and Uptime Guarantee

Since your website is your online sales front, you wouldn’t want to tolerate a hosting service that will put you out of operation many days in a year. Therefore, always ensure to research from past customers, what their reliability has been like. Hostgator provides 99.9% uptime guarantee; that’s one of the highest in the industry – you should not take anything less than that.

Let me tell you something: some websites owners, from time to time, experience frequent down-time at their sites, whenever their hosting companies are undergoing maintenance. The truth is that if the web host has enough backup and disaster management facilities, service levels will not be disrupted for any reason.

9. Data Security

I bet you don’t want to imagine that your website got hacked from your web host’s end? That’s scary but it happens. In fact not too long ago, this happened to one of the “so called big name web hosting companies”, and the customers’ websites were affected. Your data security is one factor you should never gamble with, so research the history of any web hosting company before you sign up.

Smaller and, sometimes, new hosting service providers tend to lack robust and secured data centres. Ensure to go with a hosting company that has a quality delivery track record.

10. Skill and Response Time of the Web Host’s Technical Support Team

You don’t want to have a reason to contact your web host’s customer and either never get a response or getting one after many days of being in distress. Again, this happens – some customer support desks do not run 24 hours daily. If your website will be up 24/7, then you need a web hosting support centre that is accessible 24/7.

From my experience with Hostgator support, sometimes I get an email step by step feedback as soon as I am refreshing my browser. Their live chat support have come to my rescue many times I wanted instant response. The first time I started my website, sometimes I was on to the Hostgator tech support by email and live chat several times a day, yet they always sounded pleasant and asked me to let them know if I had more queries.

If you’re new to owning a website and especially if you’re not techie, you need a fast and responsive technical support that will always take you by the hand, step by step, whenever you need it.

This is where it can get tricky – be sure to confirm the types of support the web hosting provider offers to their customers; confirm times of day the support staff are open; also confirm if they have live chat support. Also confirm the size of their tech/ customer support staff – that’s because if they have few staff, customers are bound to get response long after they’ve forgotten they asked for it.

It’s one thing to get a tech support response and it’s another for them to really offer you help that will solve your problem – therefore ensure to confirm that the web hosting provider has skilled technical support staff.

Finally, before you signup to the web hosting service, try to contact their customer support by live chat or otherwise, and confirm what their response time and advice are like.

11. Credibility of Web Hosting Company

It is also crucial to consider the market standing of the company. Who you can’t get cheap from the best hosting companies. Yes, you can. Do not equate cheap to mean low quality. I get the best service from my cheap Hostgator hosting. You shouldn’t go for less.

How To Use The Above Web Hosting Reviews Checklist

Note that you do not have to be a techie to determine how any web hosting company stands, with respect to each of the 15 web host decision factors. You can get some of the facts on each checklist from looking at current and previous customers’ reviews. In some cases, you’ll want to contact their customer support to confirm – better if they have a live chat support.

If you print and follow the above checklist when buying a web hosting service for your small business, you’ll be able to eliminate the low quality providers.

Best Quality Cheap Web Hosting Services that Satisfy All Above Factors

Now that you know what to consider when looking for the right and affordable web hosting companies, here are the top 3 award winning web hosts that have, over the years stood the test of time, and completely satisfy all the above factors:

#1: HostGator. Because Hostgator satisfied all the above small business hosting requirements, I chose to host this blog with them and I’m extremely satisfied with the quality of service. I’m no techie and cannot count how many times I have unintentionally shut my site down because I messed up with the coding BUT Hostgator’s ever responsive customer support fixed them all and got my site up and running in no time – for free too.

HostGator has a really affordable pricing, variety of hosting plans and are very reliable. Their customer service is second to none (both email, phone and live chat). Sites on hostgator plans load fast.

#2 & #3: Hostmonster and Bluehost are also good and used by many website and blog owners around the World.

Conclusion

With the above good small business web hosting checklist, you now know what to look out for when choosing a good, cheap web hosting service.

By the way, if you decide to go for Hostgator, you can get your hosting cost a whole lot cheaper by using the special discount coupon codes listed below:

  • LESS994DISCOUNT OR NOW1CENTHOSTING – you’ll get your first month hosting cheap for 1 penny (almost free), on any plan
  • LESS25DISCOUNT – you’ll save 25% on any hosting plan you choose.

I hope you found the web hosting checklist in this post useful.

Thanks for reading and do let me know which web hosting you decide on.

 

Stella

Image: scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

31 thoughts on “What To Consider When Choosing A Good, Low Cost Web Hosting for Your Small Business Site”

  1. nice post, thanks. i truly help your list will help those who are starting up and looking for some help. Personally I pay a huge attention to tech support crew and response time.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Julie. Sure, this post, like a lot others here, have helped many bloggers and online marketers make the best informed decision regarding finding a good WordPress theme.

  2. Stella-

    Once again some really great information. I am getting ready to purchase a few domains and need a good hosting company. So this site and your preference is HostGator? I am currently using godaddy but I will now switch.

    thanks

    1. You’re welcome, Sean. I’m glad that this article has helped you in deciding the Hosting compenies that are worth your money. Be sure to also read the comments on this post, as it’d help you be sure about what Hosting companies others have used before and found unworthy and why they’ve moved to Hostgator plus their Hostgator experiences.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Saikrishna. I’m happy to know that you’ve found a more stable hosting service in Hostgator. I’m pretty satisfied with their level of service.

  3. I started with hostgator 4 years ago and still using them for all my sites. They are really professional and i am one of those guys who don’t like to change things if they works perfectly.

  4. Hostgator is sometimes slow on phone support, but you can always get around this by using chat. This is much faster during their busy hours.Unlike some companies their tech people don’t waste your time trying to upsell you.

    1. Hi Ben:

      I’ve never used their phone support, although this is the first time I’m hearing that they are slow on peak hours. I love the chat support, and have always found them very fast to response.

      However, I believe that on peak hours, it’s expected that there’ll be more-customers-to-support-persons-available.

      Yes, they just focus on solving your problem when you call customer support. I love that!

  5. This only applies to a few sites, but people who need a Windows based server need to know that before they pick a host as the best hosts pricewise for this are usually not the ones who have good pricing and service on Apache servers.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, Andy, for the technically savvy people.

      Many beginners and small businesses owners are not tech savvy, and so not aware of the difference between Windows-based servers and Linus-based ones. They would better understand the criteria for choosing a web host, explained as data security etc.

      Thanks, once again.

  6. For me, I am using hostgator for over three year and can say that they are the best at the moment. Part of the service you get from them is a 24 hour technical help no matter what type of hosting account you have with them. Also, you can host many domain under your hosting account.

    1. You’re right, unlike some web hosting companies, Hostgator support is all day long. That’s a big one for me because sometimes I’ve had to get in touch with them in the middle of the night – and got help.

      On hosting many sites in one account (with their Baby plan), many beginners think they will not need another site, but if you think about the importance of list building, new bloggers and small businesses can setup landing / squeeze pages on dedicated domains, in order to get more subscribers and sales.

      Thanks for your contribution to this discussion, and happy new year.

  7. I use hostagtor also. Stella I read above where you agreed with the other person that brought them up. I have been googing with sites for years and yes hostgator’s service is fantastic also. 24/7 and hardly ever a long wait. Another great article by you Stella, Thanks

    1. I can’t agree more, Dwayne. Hostgator’s uptime is great. They keep my blog happy, and so I’m one of the many satisfied Hostgator customers.

  8. Thank you for sharing this. People like myself, who for the longest time have been resistant to change and are now trying to catch up, need advice like these. I went to Hostgator’s site and I must agree their rates are pretty competitive. I will browse around some more.

  9. It might be a hard task for those who are new in blogging to choose a web hosting company that will work out for them. One needs to be very careful because there are some other companies which may give you a raw deal. The history of a company really matters because with that you are able to gauge the credibility of that company.

  10. Choosing the right web hosting is very important. Hostgator undoubtedly is one of the best hosting company so far. You posted a very important post, Stella. New blogger specially will benefit a lot from such an important post.

    1. You’re right, Gary. This is one of the subjects about-to-start blogging people spend time finding answers to, else they’ll spend hard earned money on poor web hosting service. As a newbie, I researched and compared user reviews and I found that Hostgator had the best feedback from most people.

      Good to see you around, Gary. Thanks for your wonderful comments and visits – much appreciated. I hope it’s all good at ‘Nashville homes’.?

  11. What a brilliant post Stella. I suppose you have covered each and every point one could think about while searching for a good hosting service. I just have confusion about one thing. As you have suggested in Point 2 to use shared hosting services initially. But i would like to know is it safe to use shared hosting? Like what if there are various other poor quality sites hosted on the same server? Would it not affect the progress of my business? and as i have heard there is a great risk of malware attack on shared hosting as compare to dedicated hosting so what measures would you suggest to be taken for a secure hosting on shared servers?

    1. Hi Daniel:

      Thanks for your feedback – I’m glad you like the tips on how to choose good web hosting.

      Shared hosting varies by capacity, bandwidth and server space – the bigger the space and bandwidth, the more expensive your hosting cost will be.

      As long as you use the service of one of the top and reliable hosting companies, shared hosting is reliable and very good. First things first is to find a good hosting company. You can click to read my review of one of the top reliable and good hosting companies.

      After finding a good hosting company, look at the various hosting plans they have, usually categorized by server space and bandwidth. In that review post, I also gave a guide on how to know which premium cheap hosting plan is right for your needs at this time.

      No, shared hosting with a good hosting company will not affect your business progress BUT if you host with a bad, unreliable hosting company, your business website will experience lots of downtime. I use shared hosting (Hostgator Baby plan) and it’s perfect.

      About getting malware from shared hosting IS not because it’s shared hosting. It’s because the hosting company has poor security infrastructure. Such bad hosting companies are also known to be a source of malware even for people on DEDICATED HOSTING. Small hosting companies may not be able to afford good security infrastructure and all round technical support.

      What measures I suggest for getting secured hosting (whether shared or dedicated) – go with one of the top 3 hosting companies, known over the years for reliability, security and more.

      Again, read this post I wrote on a checklist that every good web hosting company should have (click to read).

      Let me know if you have more questions:) Enjoy your day!

  12. Hi Stella,

    I use justhost, they are ok but support is slow and you can’t call them. Yes they are cheap and cheerful but when your site goes off-line and you have to email support it’s no fun. The biggest problem is the migration to other hosts.

    I tried to migrate one of my domains and had to reconfigure most things. Maybe you know a good guide on how to easily do migrations?
    Nik

    1. Hi Nik:

      With Hostgator, you do not necessarily need to know how to migrate to a new host BECAUSE Hostgator does help customers transfer their websites from other web hosts – for free. As soon as you signup to Hostgator, all you need to do is fill the Hostgator transfer form (click to go there).

      Hostgator support has really helped me bridge my lack of techie skill – they have 24 hours support, including live chat (support) and they do a lot of the techie things for their customers – happily too, no matter how many times you call in.

      Nik, I found these tutorials for how to migrate to a new host:
      -http://codex.wordpress.org/Moving_WordPress AND
      10 easy steps to migrate your wordpress site – a guide by Yoast
      -this also how to move your WordPress site to a new host.

      Hope they help.

  13. Good tips! I’ve been sucked into bad hosting in the past. One thing I would recommend when checking out a potential new hosting service is to actually ping the host and see how fast they are as well. Do your research around the web, although be careful of those sites that just throw up affiliate links in the guise of a “review.”

    1. Thanks Fisayo. Data security is a very critical requirement when shopping for a web host. If you have been following industry news, not long ago, one of the popular web hosts was hacked and some customers’ data were affected.

  14. I’ve used HostGator for years. Easily one of the best web hosts I’ve ever used and their customer services is top notch. Customer service ranks pretty dang high on my list of must haves when looking for a web host.

    Also the ability to host multiple domains on the one hosting package is vital for me as I have loads of sites, plus it will save you a ton of money rather than having individual hosting for each website.

    1. You’re right. Hostgator has proved itself, over the years and still offers the best value for money, at affordable hosting rates. I love their customer service response time; it’s talked about by most customers.

      I agree – rather than buying individual hosting per website, the hostgator Baby plan is the cheapest because you can host all your websites for the same small price.

      Thanks for your contribution.

  15. GREAT article…not just for whom you put down, but whom you DIDN’T put down (I just switched over from the BIG “name” on campus to BlueHost….. :D)

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