It's tempting. There are so many companies offering cut-rate hosting – loaded with astounding post-futuristic techno-gizmo features ! – that it just makes sense to save a few dollars, right?
Think again. First, consider how much you would be saving. If you run a business site, saving $5, $10 or even $15 a month is not a big saving. No going concern will become a stopping concern on account of even $15 a month. But the wrong web host can stop a business cold.
Here are three reasons to look beyond price when choosing your web host.
1. Usability. Confession time: I chose my first website host based on price. The control panel was not easy to use, and I often found myself traveling in circles trying to enter it. I switched to my second web host based not just on price, but on usability, and I instantly became a pro. Well, not quite. But I was able to manage my email accounts and learn about CGI, and check my traffic stats and edit my html files right on the server. Not bad for a newbie who couldn't even find his files on his previous host's server.
2. Service. I thought my second host had great service. They even answered my emails. Until the dreaded day that some guy with a chip on his shoulder filed a phony spam complaint. I was out in the cold. In fact, they would not answer my emails or even speak to me at all. Meanwhile, my ISP responded to the same phony complaint immediately, sharing with me a copy and giving me a chance to deal with it. That ISP is now my third web host. I pay a little more, but the personal service is worth it. I have no hesitation recommending http://www.phastnet.com to anybody who wants the assurance that they won't be hung out to dry at the first whiff of somebody in a bad mood.
3. Reliability. When that phony spam complaint struck, my website was down for four days. Ouch! But there are many other things that can bring down a site. What is your web host's uptime? And how reliable is its reporting? Other things can happen, like a form not functioning – meaning lost sales. Worse still, what if Google comes crawling just when your site is down? Search engines don't like sending people to unreliable sites. Companies like http://www.dotcom-monitor.com monitor websites for a variety of measures, and the cost is nothing compared to the cost of lost sales.
Sure, save a few bucks on hosting, and pay a whole lot more in lost sales and increased stress. Your web host is your Internet landlord. Take as much time choosing your web host as you would the place you live in. Price alone just is not enough.
David Leonhardt is an online and offline publicity specialist. To get your website optimized for the search engines, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a copy of Don’t Get Banned By The Search Engines: http://thehappyguy.com/SEO.html. For a copy of Get In The News: http://thehappyguy.com/publicity-self-promotion-report.html.