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What is Web Hosting and Why is it Important?

When it comes to a website, hosting is easily one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Your agency can design and develop the best-looking, high-performance website, but if you’ve chosen the wrong host, your customers will have a frustrating experience when they try to access it. Before we recommend our picks for hosting, it’s important to know what hosting is and why it’s an essential service.

Web Hosting and Domains Explained

When you take a website and push it live, you absolutely need to have two things: a domain name and web hosting. The easiest way to explain this concept is to think of these services like a house: the domain name is the mailbox with the street address, and the hosting is the house. All the files that make up your website reside in the hosting, the “house”, and the domain name is the “address” on the mailbox that enables people to find it.

What is a domain name? A domain name is a word or series of words that translate your host’s internet IP address into something readable that humans can easily recognize and remember. It’s a way of making your website accessible to the world. The domain name is every visitor’s connection to your web server.

What is hosting? Simply put, hosting is the computer that holds your website files and “serves” them to your website visitors. It’s an essential part of your website plan. Like any product or service, there are good hosts and bad ones, and it’s important to understand the differences. In many instances, going with the cheapest host can have negative consequences for your website and will have a lasting effect on your conversion rates and ROI.

What are the Consequences of Using
a Cheap Host?

It directly affects your search ranking. Cheap hosts are often slow. Since Google uses page load speed as a critical factor when deciding how high to rank your website, having a slow host means that your website will be less visible. If it’s harder to find your website, fewer people will click on it, and that means fewer leads and sales.

Those that access your site will have a very frustrating experience. Even something as simple as clicking on a link or loading your homepage can take an agonizing amount of time. Seconds will tick by, and many of your site’s users will abandon your website before it even has a chance to load. This directly impacts your ability to market to your customers and is something that is entirely preventable by choosing a host that has fast speeds.

During peak times your website will suffer an outage. If thousands of people flood your website all at once, a bargain host is simply not designed to deal with this level of activity and your site will be inaccessible. In this scenario, there won’t be anything your web provider will be able to do to bring it back online. Calling your hosting company and complaining won’t work either.

Upgrading to better hosting doesn’t take effect immediately. If you decide to upgrade to better hosting, this won’t restore your site immediately. You will need to physically move your website files and that takes time. It’s far better to choose better hosting from the beginning—and buying a bigger package than you think you need will help cover times of peak activity.

What Hosts Are Considered “Good”?

At MDR, part of the website development process is to help our clients pick a host that will meet their needs now and in the future. The ability to scale well as our clients grow is a large reason why we recommend WP Engine. It is fast, secure, and has excellent customer support. Its hosting is designed to scale and handles spikes in activity with ease. Every one of our clients that use WP Engine has been extremely satisfied with the service.

What Are Signs You Have a Bad Host?

It takes more than 2 seconds to load your homepage. We live in a world where consumers expect instant gratification, and that expectation applies to websites, too. What makes a fast site? Design plays a role, but hosting is by far one of the most important pieces. If your site follows all the design best practices, but is still loading slow, this is a sign you have a bad host.

The backend freezes or crashes when you try to work on it. If your frontend site speed is fine, but your backend slows to a crawl, you need a better host. Backend speeds should be quick, and it shouldn’t feel frustrating to use. A slow backend is also a sign that should your frontend get a lot of extra traffic, it might slow to a crawl, too.

Your customers complain your site is down, even when it should be online. You should aim for 99% uptime, and most hosts can consistently deliver. But if you’re getting calls from your customers that your site is down, this is a sign that your host can’t keep up during peak times and you should consider a switch. Faster hosting can ensure that you’ll always be online, and when your site gets popular, you won’t miss out on new customers.

Looking for help navigating the web development process? Let MDR help guide you to a better web experience for you and your customers.