Web hosting comes in many shapes and sizes and is certainly not an industry where one size fits all. For websites with a limited budget there are free options available but be warned, these should only be used for personal endeavours where the primary goal is not to make a profit. Beyond free services, the sky is the limit as hosting can vary from anywhere between £12 per year to £100 per month and more. You can generally find some good deals on Godaddy where web hosting packages can start from as little as £1 per month in your first year. Keep in mind that once you go beyond the first year of hosting, Godaddy jack up the price in your second year which is where they make their money.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding how much to pay for web hosting:
The total number of hours available in one month or year versus the number of hours your site was accessible to a web user is known as a website’s uptime. If your website is down this means no-one can visit your site and you’re likely losing money or leads. If you’re in business and thinking of starting a website uptime is one of those fundamental features you need to make sure your web hosting service has well under control. For example, let’s say you find a web hosting company who advertises 99% uptime. Sounds pretty good right? Well, not if you work it through. There are 365 days in a year, and this means a full 1% of those days your site will not be visible to people searching for your product or service. That’s 3.65 days a year that your site will be down. What if one of those days happens to be on your busiest day of the year. Trust me, it happens. You’re likely to lose a great deal of business. If only you had just invested a little bit more time in considering which hosting service was going to work for your company. Shop around a bit more. You should be able to get much better than 99% uptime. Personally, when it comes to a website for your business, I wouldn’t go for anything less than 99.9% uptime.
The Speed of Your Website
It’s no secret. Google admits that page speed load time is a ranking factor in the Google algorithm. If you plan on doing any form of search engine optimisation this is a good place to start and helps to provide a good user experience for your visitor. Think about the number of times you have visited a website. If it takes more than a couple of seconds to load chances are you haven’t waited around for the page to load but instead clicked elsewhere never to visit that site again. As they say, speed is a killer or should we say lack of speed. Page speed is another important consideration that you should give serious consideration to when deciding on a hosting service.
Quality Support Service
From time to time we can all run into issues in working our way around the cPanel functionality. A responsive support service is worth its weight in gold. I’m not talking about a support service that will get back to you within 24 hours. That’s way too long to have to wait to deal with your issue. What if your hosting provider offered a 24/7 live chat service? That should get your question answered promptly.
Unlimited Free Email Accounts
It seems like a pretty standard feature nowadays but make sure there is no restriction on the number of email accounts you can create. You never know how big your business could grow.
A lot of hosting providers will limit the number of MySQL Databases you can install in your hosting account. Quite often this doesn’t cause a problem until you suddenly need another MySQL Database for whatever reason. Best to sign up with a service that doesn’t place restrictions on the number of databases you can install to ensure you don’t run into a problem you didn’t realise you had further down the road.
Money Back Guarantee
The sign of a good hosting provider is a business who is willing to put their money where their mouth is. Well, not always. But it does let you test the service for free the period the money back guarantee covers. If you are not happy with the service, you always have the option of cancelling your account to sign up with another provider.
Free SSL and HTTPS
The installation of an SSL certificate on a web browser activates the padlock and the https protocol while offering a secure connection between a web server and a browser. Put simply, if your site isn’t set up with https your visitors may see the following warning message when trying to fill out a form on your website:
I don’t know about you, but this would put me off submitting my details to this business. In the past SSL certificates have been rather expensive and you may have only noticed their existence when doing online banking. Today, this is no longer the case due to the measures Google has taken to warn web browsers when a website is not https compliant as shown above.
A website builder can be more of a nice to have as opposed to a must-have feature. It depends on how you plan to build your website. For example, if you are going to use WordPress to create your site you most probably would not need a website builder.
Taking into consideration all of the above factors will be important when committing to a hosting provider. To start with, a service that offers a money back guarantee is ideal as it lets you test the waters. This way you can find out yourself whether all the good things the hosting company said on their website are true. It’s worthwhile contacting support in the early days purely to see how responsive they are to your questions. You can expect the same quality of support that they promised on their website.
So getting back to the question – how much does web hosting cost? Some hosting companies offer a discount in their first year of service up to 60 or 70% off their regular price. Be careful here as it can quite often look like the discounted price is the regular price and once the second year rolls around you might be in for a surprise. I know this has happened to me a few times in the past for other websites I own when I was least expecting it.
Web Hosting vs WordPress Hosting?
|Essential Features||WordPress Hosting||Web Hosting|
|Free Website Builder||✗||✔|
|Free WP Install||✔||✔|
|Free WP Migrator||✔||✔|
|Unlimited Email Accounts||✔||✔|
|Free SSL & HTTPS||✔||✔|
|Free Cloudflare CDN||✔||✔|
|Free Daily Backup||✔||✔|
|WP CLI & SSH||✔||✗|
|cPanel & SSH||✗||✔|
|30 Days Money Back||✔||✔||Unmetered Traffic||✔||✔||Unlimited MySQL Databases||✔||✔|
It might appear from the above table that you get a better dealer under WordPress Hosting but it really depends on the future plans you have for your website. If you don’t plan on using WordPress to build your site then best to go with the web hosting option as you get the free website builder that you don’t get with the WordPress Hosting.
Although it doesn’t clearly state this on Siteground’s website, the Web Hosting package also includes a Free WordPress migration, Easy WordPress installation and WordPress auto updates. These are all included as part of the standard Web Hosting package.
Different to Web Hosting the WordPress Hosting options provides WP-CLI functionality. This is a command line interface that lets you navigate your way around your WordPress site using written commands. You can use this option rather than using the traditional WordPress dashboard.
Siteground’s secure web hosting package does not include WP-CLI functionality but instead includes a cPanel where you can manage your website.
Ways to Save on Hosting…
As you may have guessed already from the banner ads displayed throughout this page, Siteground is my hosting company of choice. For businesses, they offer an affordably priced hosting service with all the capability and features of a hosting company where you might expect to pay much more. Their StartUp package is only £2.95 per month for the first year. And if you really want to save on hosting, you can even get this discounted price for the first three years if you are prepared to sign up for three years from day one. So that’s only £2.95 per month for the first three years which comes to a total of £106.20 excluding VAT. After your initial discounted period the price increases to £8.95 per month. They offer a free 30-day money back guarantee so you can test out the service to make sure you are getting what you were promised.
For a business owner, another added benefit of signing up for hosting over a three year period is you can budget effectively as you know exactly what you’re up for in the first three years of web hosting. Most businesses are going to need a website and therefore a web hosting service for longer than three years anyway. Be sure to allow for the increased cost from year four onwards which would be £8.95 per month excluding VAT. Don’t forget to budget for the yearly domain name registration fees. These are the main two costs every website owner will incur. Of course, there may be other website costs you’ll need to allow for but that can vary from business to business.
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Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this site. All data & opinions are based on my experience as a paying customer or as a consultant to a paying customer.