13.3. Buying Web Hosting


Since this article was written, I have completed a web host survey of my newsletter group, and published the results here:  Top 10 Web Hosts.  It would be wise to choose one from the top of that list, since this was an unbiased survey based on real people.

The final part of this jigsaw is where to host your site. You need to find a web host.

This is one of those very difficult decisions that could come back to haunt you.

Hosts are notorious for downtime. If your server is down, your site is down. If your site is down, you cannot make money from it.

Let me put it into perspective for you.

A few years back, we had a site built with Ken Evoy's Excellent Site Built It!, and wanted to move away from SBI because we felt we had outgrown it. I signed up with a host in the US that had a 99.9% guaranteed uptime, and it only cost me $7.95 a month to host my site.

At the time, that site was making around $1000 a month.

In the first month, my site was down for a total time of TWO WEEKS.

Thinking it was teething problems, I left it another month, and the second month suffered 10 days of down time.

Total in lost affiliate revenue? Around $800.

OK, so what about the 99.9% uptime guarantee. Lets look at it shall we? It stated that the hosting company would refund the proportion of my hosting fees, for any downtime suffered.

Let's see. 24 days of downtime equals a little under $6.50, yet this company had lost me $800. I was not happy.

Today, I am happy.

I was fortunate enough to have found a hosting company that almost does not have downtime. I had hosted another site with them for the last 7 or 8 years (selling some teaching software I wrote when I was doing my teaching degree) and had never faced downtime problems despite meteoric growth of the hosting company. I switched my ill-fated Site Build It site to them.

Ever since, I have hosted all my sites with them. I use a service (Internet Seer) that gives me weekly reports of uptime. Usually is shows 100% uptime. On the rare occasion there is any downtime, it is usually restricted to 5 – 10 minutes, and that only happens once every 5 or 6 months.

This host originally only accepted UK customers, but has since branched out to the US & Canada. I know when they first started in the US they had teething problems themselves, but from feedback I have had, they seem to have sorted those out.

I would point you to my review of this company, but it is old now. The hosting plans have had a lot of features added to them, so if interested, visit the homepage of this company instead:

For U.K. residents.

For U.S. and Canadian Residents.

If you are outside the UK, US or Canada, I am afraid I cannot recommend a host to you. I only recommend what I have tried and liked myself, sorry.

All I can do for you is offer some points to look out for when deciding on a host:

1. Word of mouth recommendation. Talk to people, and ask for recommendations. Be aware that many will recommend hosts purely to get a commission, so be aware of that.

2. Look for independent reviews of hosting. Computer magazines are great for this, as they have less of an agenda when recommending a host.

3. Look for forums on hosting websites. If you can go and see what customers are writing about a host, you can better gauge how reliable the host is. Also visit internet marketing forums like abestweb.com and see what people are saying about their hosts.

4. Price is not always a good indicator. I remember a while back, some friends were hosting with an expensive company that charged $49.95 a month. That host suffered a lot of downtime.

With hosting plans evolving a lot over the last year or two, most provide everything you need. However, there are a few essential features to look for in a host:

clip_image001 They allow you to host multiple domains in one hosting plan. You don't want to buy separate hosting plans for each of your domains.

clip_image001[1] They offer at least 10GB bandwidth a month, and allow upgrades to more bandwidth as required. This will get you started, and not limit your business growth.

clip_image001[2] 1 or 2 MySQL databases as a minimum. Lots of scripts (e.g. WordPress) these days require MySQL databases to function.

clip_image001[3] Log file stats – essential to monitor your visitors, where they come from and how they found you.

While there are a lot of other features you will require, any host that offers the above features should offer the others as well.

Armed with these guidelines, you should now be able to find hosting, order a domain name, and equip yourself with a web editor of your choice.

In the next chapter we are going to start looking at site linking strategies and try to answer the question

“What are the best ways to link your pages together to ensure your site is optimized, and can be fully spidered and indexed”?

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