As a small business, it can be difficult to compete with the larger, more established companies. Larger companies have staff members or agencies to deal with the social media aspects of the business and to help them optimize their website for search engines and conversions. In turn, this means they generate high traffic levels and profits. If you are a smaller business owner, you might not even have enough staff members to handle all aspects of the business. Therefore, you must make sure you have a strong online presence so that visitors to your website make a purchase, recommend your website to friends and return to purchase more products.
This is achievable if you include key features on your website to invoke a sense of trust with your customer, and more importantly make the experience of being on your website easy and clear.
Clear menu layouts, strong photography, unique written content and a strong homepage which immediately outlines what your website has to offer with links to your online shop are some of the features you must include. However, hosting is one of the most important aspects of a website, which is often not considered and researched as much as it should be. If your website goes down or is slow to load, your hard work, reputation and customer trust will be severely affected. Remember, your competitors are always a click away, so don’t give them any excuse to go elsewhere.
It can be difficult to choose the right hosting package for your business, especially as each company claims to be the best, the most reliable and the cheapest. When searching for hosting, there are a few factors to bear in mind so your small business does not suffer:
Hosting uptime: This refers to the amount of time a server is running successfully without going down. This is shown as a percentage of uptime, therefore if a server has an uptime of 95% uptime it means any sites which are also on this server will be running live at this percentage of uptime and subsequently down 5% of the time.
If you site is down for a short period of time, this is less problematic than a server which has gone down for 24 hours or more. This can happen, and can be worrying and stressful to manage, especially for small businesses trying to cover a large workload without dedicated technical staff to handle such problems.
Customer support: If your site goes down, you must make sure the hosting company is able to support you and answer any questions. If you site is down, you are losing money from potential sales, so it is vital that there is 24 hour support to help you with any issues.
Online shopping is 24/7 so you must make sure you are able to handle problems, and that your hosting company can help support you. It is better to pay more per month for strong hosting customer support, rather than pay for cheaper hosting with a company that won’t provide you with help or information out of standard working hours.
Bandwidth: Check the bandwidth limit on different hosting packages as some companies might limit this which means if you go over your allowance, you will have to purchase more. Hidden expenses add up and it can put the budget of a small business in jeopardy.
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data which is downloaded from the server to your website visitor’s computer. Each time they click on a new page, they will be downloading more data from the host server. The more visitors you have and the more pages they visit, the higher amount of bandwidth you will require. Don’t get caught out by limited hosting packages.
Security: With personal information being sent between the server and your website such as customer bank card details and personal information such as addresses, it is vital this information is secure. Therefore, the hosting must be secure and use encryption.
As with all aspects of business, do your research and don’t become too focused on free or ultra cheap hosting. It is important that it is reliable and a supportive base for your company.