Web Hosting FAQ
This small business web hosting FAQ is by no means exhaustive, but rather is designed to try and answer some of the common questions business owners and individuals new to website creation and development often ask.
- Why do I need a website for my business?
- How do I select a web hosting company?
- What’s the difference between hosting companies?
- What do you mean by “Small Business Hosting?”
- I found another hosting company cheaper. Why shouldn’t I go with them?
- How do I edit my website’s content?
- How do I achieve a high search engine ranking?
Why do I need a website for your business? The simplest justification for a business website is to give potential customers access to information about your business, information which you control in both content and presentation. Think of a website as, at the bare minimum, a rich and enhanced version of a yellow pages listing to which billions of people have worldwide access.
How do I select a web hosting company? For a small- to medium-sized business with either no or a small percentage of revenue realized by online product sales, it is important to take it slow and make cost an important factor. Customer service should also be paramount, as invariably the average “do it yourself” business owner running a website runs into problems. The internet is not yet foolproof and web development is far from easy, under even the best of circumstances. Find a happy medium between cost and service level. Access to a human being by a telephone who can evaluate your challenges and help you get going is worth it.
What’s the difference between hosting companies? Many differences, but for the purposes of an SMB new to serious web development, the only important differences are - as described above - pricing and service level. Many hosting companies targeting SMB owners who have a hosting budget of $10-$250 per month are in reality leveraging enormous computing resources at the expense of customer service, which is usually “the price” you are paying for that low, low price. Try getting that $6.99-per-month hosting company on the phone. The low price of “value” hosts often has a high hidden cost and you’re sacrificing service level.
What do you mean by “Small Business Hosting? Small businesses are uniquely positioned to benefit from even basic web technology, which has become more affordable in recent years. However, as the internet - and even personal computing - is still relatively young, many of these resources aren’t yet completely accessible to business owners who are focused on high-value tasks. User Driven Hosting focuses on delivering website utility to business owners, cutting through the mystery and plowing straight towards the answers that can yield potential ROI and even realize positive bottom line impact. As a business without a website, you stand to reach a larger audience by making your product or service more accessible via the web.
I found another web hosting company cheaper. Why shouldn’t I go with them? See above. Service level is usually the hidden cost of “cheap” web hosting. In the end, if you are trying to develop a meaningful business website you may find it is not worth it to go with a turnkey bargain hosting package you barely feel equipped to use. This is a lesson many people learn the hard way. The opposite is of course true, and it is important to not over-invest in hosting resources more appropriate for a business with some in-house IT staff and resources.
How do I edit my website’s content? Get ready for a dose of opinion. The trend in web development for consumer-oriented tools has been to create the perfect “portal” which can easily be managed via point-and-click mechanism. Tools like Drupal, Joomla, DotNetNuke, phpNuke, and more all offer the ability to create, manage, and extend one’s own website. However, they all demand even basic knowledge of client-server web technology and configuration, and ultimately try to empower non-technical users to manage very technical resources. Blogs are web applications built around the idea of a site whose author makes regular entries or articles which are categorized, often chronologically, using categories and/or tags. While blogs originally were created for textual commentary on topics or as online diaries, the resources developed to manage blogs have far outgrown these uses and now applications like Wordpress - a blogging framework upon which this site is built - provide all-purpose content management functionality for users with even limited computer expertise. This may be because Wordpress content management is similar to word processing, and a Wordpress site can be managed without necessarily accessing codebehind programming language or HTML.
Alternatively, you can edit your website by learning HTML and coding static pages, but what fun is that when you have a business to run?
How do I achieve a high search engine ranking? This is the quadrillion-dollar question, and there are about fifty quadrillion answers to it. Ultimately, search engines are information supply-and-demand machines. They feed on information and the results they serve are driven by relevance. That relevance is calculated using a number of factors which are the topic of raging speculation and debate. We do not claim to be SEO (search engine optimization) experts by any means. No one, however, can argue the basic principle that when one enters a search term and hits “Enter”, they are asking a question. This is the “demand. The content served up in a list of ranked results is the “supply,” and they are ordered according to the search engine’s best estimate of relevance. A website achieves good search engine rankings for certain keywords or keyphrases by providing supply for the demand. Answer a question, and the question will be asked. Websites with relevant, topic-heavy content rise up to meet demand because they are, in theory and in practice, more useful.