So you’ve completed your site and now you’re ready to unleash it on the world. Congratulations, if you used all the good design principles detailed in my previous posts, you’re probably a long way ahead of your competition. But now you need to put your site somewhere. Your Internet service provider is a good option, right? Hmmm….Well, if not your Internet service provider, certainly the firm that designed your site then, right? Or how about just going to one of the large hosting companies? The price is right and with the amount of sites they host they’ve got to be good at it. The answer is a resounding “maybe.” In short, a few simple factors are going to make all the difference. Knowing these can make or break your online marketing and SEO efforts.
The good news is these factors are pretty simple: bandwidth, who-you’re-with, and location.
- Bandwidth – pretty simple stuff here. Whoever hosts your site needs to have enough bandwidth to serve your site to all those who want to see it. There aren’t really any “sure-thing” tests or tools you can use to verify this, but this information should be provided to you by your hosting company in your agreement. Verify data throughput maximums and check to see if there are any bandwidth guarantees.
- Who-you’re-with – this criteria may be the most important of them all. Ultimately, the other sites hosted on the same server as you make a difference – both in terms of the server’s ability to deliver the site (too many sites can bog a server down) and even more importantly, the type of sites that are on the server. Want to be hosted with pornography sites? Probably not. The sites your website “commiserates” with makes a difference. Use this tool to check and see who you’re hosted with. You might be very, very surprised.
- Location – the facts are that many of the largest hosting companies and data centers are located domestically in Florida and Texas. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if your business is located in or near either state (or if many of your customers are). However, if you’re located quite a ways away from either of those locations and many of your clients/customers are local, this can make a difference in the time it takes for your site to load. Is it likely to be a huge difference? No, probably not. But how many times have you waited 4 or 5 seconds for a site to load and gotten frustrated? The fact is that even as ridiculous as a few seconds sounds, people don’t expect to wait so why make them? Ultimately you want to drive people to your site and get them to become customers. Hosting your site in a local data center may not be the answer, but then again if you have a quality data center near you it is probably worth looking into.
Ultimately, your decision on where to host your site can make a difference in how the search engines look at it and how quickly it loads for people. Both should be considered very seriously.
Next time we’ll talk about how to be better than your competition. In the online world you don’t necessarily have to be good, you just have to be better than your competition. Stay tuned.