When it comes to online marketing and a company’s website, one particular function is often overlooked; the online hosting of the website.
Partly this is because many confuse web design with web hosting. While the former is all about the look of your website, the latter concerns where your website actually ‘lives’ on the internet.
Web hosting is an equally important consideration for a business as web design, as poor web hosting can severely jeopardise the performance of a website. Your business or organisation may have the most brilliantly designed website, but that in itself will mean nothing if your website takes too long to access or is often ends up offline, both of which is a sign of a poor web hosting service.
So what actually is web hosting and what do you need to know about it? The following 42 questions and their answers will make you sufficiently informed to make the right decision in regards to your own web hosting needs.
31. Does a web host back up my website?
Your website should be backed up on your web host’s servers, whether they own them or have them with a third party.
Establish with a web host prior to hiring them what their back up procedures are and how frequently they do back up their clients website. You can then make an informed choice whether that is sufficient for your particular business’ or website’s needs for the cost you are paying the web host for the service.
32. How often should a web host back up my website?
Most web hosts back up their clients on back up servers once a week; whether that is sufficient for your business or your website depends on the type of business you are and the type of website you are looking to maintain.
Talk to both your web host and your web designer about how frequently your website should be backed up, as they will be able to advise you best based on your particular business needs.
33. I’ve messed up my website; can my web host revert it to what it looked like yesterday?
This would depend when your last backup was performed but often there are other ways of restoring previous web pages to how they were previously.
Most Content Management Systems (see Part 2) provide a function where you can ‘roll back’ web pages to previous iterations, which you can then republish online. This is something most people can easily do themselves without having to involve either their web designer or web host.
However, if you are about to make a lot of substantial changes to your website and/ or changes of particular technical or design nature, you should alert both your web designer and your web host so they can trigger a manual back up as insurance. This may come at an additional cost depending on your service level agreement with either web designer or web host, but you could alternatively wait to make the changes until your site is next scheduled to be backed up.
34. What is Page Load Time? Why does this matter?
Page Load Time is the time taken for your page to load in a web browser of an internet user.
Page Load Time depends on the amount of elements that you have on one particular web page (such as graphics or video), the speed and capacity of your web host’s servers and the strength of the internet connection of the person viewing you site.
A slow load time can deter people persevering with your website, as they may impatiently click away from your website if a page takes too long to load.
It is therefore important to have both efficient web design as well as good web hosting provision to reduce page loading time to a minimum.
35. Why does it take my website longer to load than other websites?
This could be due to the complexity of the design of your website, the amount of content hosted on your website as well as possible issues with your web hosting.
If you have any concerns about the speed of your website, flag them with your web host as they will be able to identify the problem and recommend a solution.
A good web designer will always be mindful of potential page load time, so make sure you raise website speed as a consideration at the point of commissioning any new website.
36. Can my web host speed up my website?
A web host can offer different speeds depending on the package you purchase from them.
Faster speeds may be slightly more expensive but could prove beneficial in gaining new customers.
Sometimes there may be issues with your website that might not have anything to do with your web host however. Your website may be poorly designed and therefore will need to be reworked before the problem can be resolved.
Your website will also be slow wherever there is a poor internet connection; there is nothing you can do about this, but at least you know that all other online content is similarly affected in such areas, not just yours!
37. What is SEO/ Search Engine Optimisation? Is this the responsibility of my web host?
Most search engines only produce a list of 10 or 20 so websites on the first page of the search results when asked a question by a search engine user, and it has been proven that people who use search engines rarely go beyond the first couple of pages of search results when looking for online content.
Therefore, many people try to undertake SEO to ensure that their website appears high up in the search engine results of Google, Yahoo and Bing. The higher up you are in search engine results, the more visitors you are likely to get visiting your site.
SEO is not the responsibility of a web host however, but is down to the web designer and the copywriter in the first instance, and then a professional online marketer after that. SEO is a complex field that changes frequently so it is important that you seek advice from a professional person who knows what they are doing but does not over promise results either. No-one can guarantee that you will be on the first page of Google (certainly not without a lot of paid for advertising) but many a professional will advise you on how you have a better chance than others in the first instance.
38. Why isn’t my website appearing in Google/ on the first page of Google? What can my web host do about it?
Unless your web host offers a professional SEO service, there is nothing a web host can do about your Google ranking.
However, a web host can provide information that can discount reasons why you are not appearing in Google rankings, but these will be basic technical questions that a good web host will have covered anyway.
Google and other search engines use various, changing factors when assessing your website for its search engine results position, so it is up to have a coherent online marketing strategy (which is not the responsibility of your web host) to improve your website’s chances.
39. How much does web hosting cost? What are the payment options?
Web hosting varies in cost depending on the amount of space required by your website and the speeds of the servers you think your website will need.
A general rule of thumb is that the more you pay, the more space and quicker load up times you get, although look at and compare all the technical specifications of the web hosts you are considering.
Hosting is usually paid for on a monthly or annual basis; it all depends on your web hosts’ terms and conditions.
40. Can I switch from a web hosting services easily if I am not happy with their support? How would I go about this?
Yes you could, but whether you would get any financial compensation from your original web host is entirely dependent on whether or not they are delivering according to the service level you agreed to.
You may not be happy with the level of support you are getting from your web host, but you may have agreed to that level of support from the outset – this is why it is important to choose your web host wisely in the first instance.
Once you have chosen to change web hosting providers, the process is easy enough – your new web host will either manage the process for you or will tell what you are required to do.
However, you may still be liable to pay your original web host to the end of your original contract with them or may have to pay a one-off severance fee.
41. What are analytics/ is Google Analytics? Is this the responsibility of my web host?
It does so by tracking and recording traffic (internet users, known as ‘visitors’) to a website, and then providing the information in easily digestible table or chart formats. Google began offering this service in 2005 and it’s now the most widely used analytics service on the internet, although other analytical services are also available.
Setting up Google Analytics is not the responsibility of your web host, but is the responsibility of either your web designer or yourself. Google themselves provide easy to follow instructions on how to set-up your Google Analytics account but you may need your web designer to insert some specific code into your website before it works.
42. How can I promote my website? Can my web host/ you help me with this?
There are many things you can do to promote a website, ranging from advertising your web address on your marketing and business literature to paying for online adverts.
Whether your web host can help you with this promotion is dependent on whether they offer any additional online marketing services such as blog writing or social media marketing. If they do not offer these services themselves, most web hosts will know of or be able to recommend an online marketer suitable for your business, as will your web designer.