Your website is your company’s virtual address to the world. While businesses put a lot of time and effort into website design and usability features, equally important decisions, like selecting a hosting provider, often receive less attention.
In fact, per the 2016 “State of Small Business” Report from Wasp Barcodes, issues like hosting providers and domain selection don’t even make the top five list for small business concerns! If you’re curious, issues like improving customer experience and retention do make the list. Ironically, many small businesses fail to see the connection between technical issues like hosting provider selection and overall customer experience offerings.
Most businesses do know that a website that’s slow to load can hurt conversion rates. A one-second delay in load speeds, for example, correlates with a seven percent drop in conversion rates according to Kissmeterics.
If businesses fail to understand the connection between hosting provider and customer acquisition/retention rates, however, they’re more likely to put big decisions like provider selection on the back burner and end up going with the first option that comes along. The result: small businesses find themselves locked in contracts with hosting providers who provide limited customer service options.
Recently, I sat down with Oleg Kaluger, the CEO of Temok, to better understand the different decision-making factors that should play a role when choosing a hosting service and registering your business’s domain name. The biggest takeaway: don’t put the decisions off to the last minute! Spend time researching different hosting providers and domain name extensions before you lock your business into a specific host or website address!
Domain and Hosting Considerations
These are four considerations to keep in mind:
Avoid Naming Penalties with Domain Selection
Watch out for newbie mistakes like choosing an “exact-match” domain, which could actually land your business a Google penalty. (Yikes!) Instead, Kaluger suggests businesses keep the following in mind
- Top-level domain names can stick in the mind more effectively, so try to get a good short domain name that will generate direct traffic and brand awareness.
- Be creative and try all the names and extensions. If your .com is free for sale and you are happy with it – go ahead and register it. Use .org when you are a nonprofit or a foundation. If your favorite .com extension is unavailable, .net could be your solution. If you are country-specific, there are many country domain extensions that could work for you. It’s best to choose the right domain name for your idea that will present you and your business to the crowd.
Keep Technical Considerations Top of Mind
For better or worse, there are thousands of hosting companies from which to choose. This doesn’t mean that all hosting providers are created equal. Need an easy way to start narrowing down the options? Start by thinking about the technical requirements for your website, including disk space and bandwidth requirements, server platform and hardware requirements. Scalability is also a concern. Can you upgrade your server quickly with just a push of a button? The best web hosting providers will offer reliable and affordable server uptime and the ability to easily scale your needs as your business grows.
Customer Service Matters
Last but certainly not least is the importance of prompt, professional customer support. A web hosting company with award winning support should also provide multiple support channels, such as toll-free phone support, 24/7 email support, live chat, online knowledge base, and FAQ. I’ve written before about how small customer service tweaks, like personalizing your auto responder, can lead to better customer service results. Look for companies that go the extra step to offer their clients this elevated level of service. That is the team you’ll want in your corner should anything go wrong on your site.
Downtime quite literally translates into lost money for your company. First time visitors are likely to navigate away from your site and never return. While regular customers will try again, they’ll be frustrated by the poor experience and have a lower tolerance for future technical-related problems. Repeated outages could hurt your company’s reputation and even hurt your position in Google’s rankings. Don’t underestimate the importance of your hosting provider for achieving bigger business goals like customer acquisition and retention!
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