Whenever I have to explain the basics of online marketing to a small business owner, I start by saying that online marketing is really a lot like digital real estate. And like all things real estate, the most important thing is. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.
Your website is the digital home of your business. And like all homes, where it’s situated matters. The only difference between a web home and a physical home is that moving is a lot easier and that frees you up to find the best piece of real estate errr web hosting.
The 3 Basic Types of Hosting — Explained in Plain English
There are three basic types of hosting; Shared, Virtual Private Server (VPS) and Dedicated Server. With the popularity of WordPress, there is now something called Optimized WordPress or Managed WordPress? hosting.
Hosting is a lot like buying real estate. In fact, I think this analogy is a great one to help you understand exactly what kind of hosting is best for you.
All of the hosting companies I’m going to mention here carry each of these options. You just get to choose which is best for you.
Shared Hosting Is Like An Apartment
On the web, just like in real life, it’s a good idea to rent an apartment? before you make any serious commitments to a city or a neighborhood. And this is what shared hosting is. You are essentially renting disk space on a server. Taking this analogy all the way through, shared hosting means that you don’t have any responsibility for the hardware, or the maintenance. It’s a great option for folks who don’t have a lot of digital stuff. Quite frankly, unless you are running a really large site with tens of thousands of visitors a day and if you don’t need or want a lot of customization on your site — shared hosting is the way to go.
Here’s a snapshot of HostGator’s shared server plans. As you read through the options you’ll see that there are a lot of unlimiteds listed in each plan and you might wonder why you’d ever want to choose a more expensive hosting option. Well here’s a secret — nothing is truly unlimited. Each web host will allocate a certain amount of resources? or disk space or RAM for each customer and if you consistently use more than that, your web site will start “acting up” — it will go down.
If you are a startup — then just start with the lowest plan and you can work your way up. If you happen to know the number of files you have or how much disc space your web site takes up — that will help you choose. If not, don’t worry about it. The tech support people will be able to help you. I’ve worked with HostGator for years and have moved my site from the most basic shared package to a VPS with no difficulty at all.
VPS (Virtual Private Server) Is Like Owning A Condo
If your web site gets a lot of traffic, you want a lot of customization or your web site uses a lot of resources? (that’s what the hosting companies call it) you and I would call it disk space, RAM or you have a lot of files. In other words, if you have a high-traffic, high-maintenance web site, you might consider this option.
I say that it’s like a condo because you actually own? space on an existing server and run your very own copy of your operating system. So, in the same way that a condo is part of a larger building, but you have the freedom to customize the inside — that’s exactly how a VPS works. One thing that’s better about a VPS than a condo is that there are tech support people you can reach out to incase there is a major crash and they will help you out.
Another big difference that you’ll see when you’re buying VPS service is that you are actually buying disk space. It’s almost like going into a building and buying up as much square footage as you’d like.
A Dedicated Server Is Like A House
On the other end of the spectrum is the dedicated server. Having a dedicated server is like owning a house. It’s almost like going to the store and buying a server and bringing it into your office. The only difference is that the server you are paying for is not in YOUR office, but at the office of the hosting company.
Unless you are running a medium sized business or your web site is getting hundreds of thousands of visitors a day, you won?t have to worry about this option for the time being.
If seeing the descriptions of these packages doesn’t set your tech-geeky heart soaring, you probably don’t need this package.
The Managed Or Optimized WordPress Option
Each of the hosting options I’ve talked about so far will host any kind of website running on any platform. As of today, the most popular web site platform on the planet is WordPress.
As more and more websites are using WordPress as a platform, hosting companies have bent over backward to accommodate them by creating what they call Managed WordPress? or Optimized WordPress? hosting.
Consider managed WordPress hosting if you depend on your web site for new leads and customers
Managed WordPress hosting basically means that the hosting company is throwing expert resources to managing the back end of your web site; optimizing speed, security and updates. This is a must-have option for any small business that depends on content marketing, online marketing traffic, engagement and conversions to generate sales.
It’s a little more expensive than the shared packages, but it’s not as expensive as the VPS option.
All The Things That Turn A Website House Into a Website Home
Sticking with the digital real estate analogy as it relates to website hosting, I’d like to point out all the things that make a house a home — the intangibles. When you’re choosing a website host, while the technical features are certainly important, these are all FEATURES that almost all website hosts offer. It’s the intangibles such as customer service, availability, and likability that make all the difference.
Choose a website host that you LIKE who likes you back. Choose the one that makes you feel like a valued customer, that will work with you at 2am when your website crashes, that will help you solve problems and that will become your technical advocate. Ultimately, who you choose is a personal decision.
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