Having a great website host should probably be a no-brainer by this point but sadly, so many businesses don’t properly value a great host and simply opt for anything cheap. This is a mistake and it could prove a huge one if you’re not paying attention. We really want to give you the information you need to make an educated decision about your website hosting. Whether you choose to go with us at Kodeak or outsource elsewhere, this will hopefully give you a mental checklist of what to ask and expect of any website hosts you are considering.
What is website hosting?
A basic question but definitely one that needs to be answered. Because with it, you can determine what you are paying for at a minimum. Every website you have ever visited is hosted on a server. Your web host is the physical location where your website files actually live (not to be confused with your domain registrar, which is where your domain lives). Naturally, a “web host” is then the service provider that provides the technologies, server space, and services needed for the website to stay visible and functional for your potential users. For example, some of the bigger hosting companies are GoDaddy, BlueHost, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to name a few.
Website Security is imperative for a web host to provide
First and foremost, a secure website is something you, your customers/clients, and even Google expect. Downright, demand. You can bet that if their personal information and/or payment methods aren’t being processed securely, you’ve lost their business. Bottom line (pun intended).
As more and more businesses move to e-Commerce, especially after an innovative past year of online and contactless transactions, there are more opportunities for cyber attacks and phishing issues. In fact, a recent article states that 63% of companies reported their data was potentially compromised within the last twelve months due to a security breach. These data breaches have cost enterprises an average of $3.92 million each year in customer turnover, lost revenue due to system downtime, and the increasing cost of acquiring new business due to a diminished reputation.
Don’t be a statistic. Invest in a web hosting provider who will keep your programming up-to-date against vulnerabilities. This may get a little “techy” but bear with us as these terms are a staple in our industry and with reputable website hosts. First, we will consider server-side programming like PHP and MySQL, the two main constructs that run WordPress websites.
Keeping PHP & MySQL Up-To-Date
PHP is the programming language that is used to display your website design and dynamic content to your users. MySQL is the database where all the content is stored while waiting to be displayed. Hackers are always scheming new ways to gain access to your website or server through vulnerabilities in these programs. The good news is that the people that manage these programs are also always updating these languages to make them stronger and more secure than the previous version. Make sure to inquire about proper PHP and MySQL maintenance when choosing your website host.
Maintaining WordPress, Theme, and Plugins
Next, there’s your website’s framework itself. WordPress is one of the simplest CMS (content management system) platforms to manage for the non-technical person. This is the reason that more than 34% of the websites currently live on the internet right now use WordPress. That said, the framework, themes, and plugins that comprise a full website are each potential vulnerability points when not maintained. As server-side programming evolves, so does everything else that uses it. All of these programs talk to the server and database, so it is important to keep them secure and up-to-date with the latest security updates so that hackers can’t use them against you and gain access to your website, server, and customer’s personal or financial data.
Your website is only ever as successful as it is operable and optimized. Here at Kodeak, our hosting services include keeping all servers, frameworks, and plugins updated regularly as part of our web hosting packages. This is a service rarely if ever, offered by cheap web host providers and even if suggested, is a separate task you either have to pay additionally to have done or spend time doing yourself. Who has time for that? Ultimately, other hosts might warn you about these things, but most don’t. We are proactive with these updates when you’re hosting with us.
Keeping your programming up-to-date is one of the easiest ways to help keep your website secure, but that is just a good starting point. We leverage security plugins like WordFence and services like Cloud Flare to add a number of extra layers of protection for websites hosted on our servers.
Extended Website Protection
Multiple Web Application Firewalls (WAF) help keep hackers from getting into protected areas on your website. Specifically, they will protect your web applications from a variety of application-layer attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and cookie poisoning, among others.
With Cloud Flare, your website is also secured by protecting internet properties from malicious activity like DDoS attacks, malicious bots, and other nefarious intrusions. The Cloud Flare PRO plan is included with our hosting and again, not something you’d have to pay for separately or learn to configure and monitor on your own. Rest assured knowing that your website is monitored 24/7/365 to keep your business and customer data safe.
A solid website host offers SSL and a dedicated IP address
When hosting an online eCommerce site, and using payment processing as well, it is the best practice to use a dedicated IP address and an SSL certificate for the website in order to provide security for your customers’ data. Google and other search engines require that your site be protected with an SSL in its entirety in order to rank. In fact, most browsers show a “not secure” message on websites that don’t have SSL protection. Good luck getting your user to trust you when starting off with a warning message next to your business’s URL.
Naturally, security and ranking are recurring themes with us at Kodeak, so you can be certain that these services are also provided when hosting with us. Security is often offered with the higher-tiered business hosting packages on other platforms but usually requires you to set it up, configure it, and maintain it yourself.
Website speed is a close second to security
We know what your clients want and what your business needs secure and fast service. Page speed or page load time has become more and more important when it comes to search engine rankings with each and every Google algorithm update. With every extra animation or large image on a web page, the site speed takes a hit in load time, causing the website owner to miss out on the most important “ca-ching” of all – revenue. Not buying it? Are you sitting down? 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. That’s who really isn’t buying it. So all that extra design and animation isn’t worth it if your users leave before they even get to see it.
We recommend using a content delivery network (or CDN for short) to help deliver your content to your users faster, no matter where they are. This is another reason we like to use Cloud Flare which takes the old, outdated days of website loading (where a request would travel from your computer to a server, then return the web page you wanted) to a powerful edge network that delivers cached content and other services as close to you as possible, so you get the information as fast as possible. This means you don’t have to be concerned with too many requests and a server that would then be overwhelmed and unresponsive to anyone trying to access the resources it hosted. Your products and services would stay right at the fingertips of those searching – in most cases about 30%-50% faster than without a CDN!
Why server speed is important
We briefly touched on the stats behind those who leave a website that takes too long to load (3 seconds, folks!). But beyond that, we want you to understand the importance of having a good website host that considers speed essential.
We use Litespeed web server software on a Pure SSD drive platform. While this may not mean much to you, your website will benefit immensely from this setup. This lightweight Apache alternative conserves resources without sacrificing performance, security, compatibility, or convenience. All of which you need to keep your bottom line in top shape!
Speed affects user experience greatly. Page speed, a measurement of how fast the content on your page loads, has a tremendous impact on visitors’ satisfaction and your conversion. Google has indicated overall site speed and page speed as ranking factors. You, as a consumer yourself, have likely been through this during one of your own online search queries.
First, you must wait for the content to load. Now, you’re focused on the fact that you’re waiting versus what you were initially on the website for. As a result, you likely did not complete the task you set out to do on that site or you did so with an extra layer of frustration. That’s no good for any business’ reputation, let alone chances for revisits and referrals from customers.
To help curb the issues of a slow website, we leverage the caching abilities and edge delivery system offered through the Cloud Flare Pro CDN services. With the use of Cloud Flare’s CDN, you get a 2x faster load for richer user experiences that optimize engagement. This is especially helpful as the average web page has more than 85 objects or images to load. What would normally slow down a website, will run smoothly by delivering your images through lossless compression via WebP formatting. Lossless equals winning more!
SEO is a major factor when hosting your website with a provider
Most business owners don’t realize how important the role of the website host is when it comes to how their business performs online and ranks in the search engine results. As you can imagine, the poorer your website’s host quality, the more often your website will be down. This can severely damage your SEO rankings. Since the internet is a competitive place, you’ll want a provider that is mindful of why quality web hosting is critical for SEO. The following 6 areas are addressed when you choose Kodeak Digital Marketing Experts for web design and hosting:
- Your website’s downtime and uptime. Your website is only as useful as it is visible!
- Speed matters. Fast translates to happy customers and more sales/leads.
- Location, Location. Location. In terms of your IP address, the physical location of your web host can have an impact on your SEO rankings.
- Security. Google is quick to penalize websites with malware and viruses.
- SSL. More and more websites are moving toward using HTTPS to protect user data from their web traffic. Because of this, Google has specifically stated that SSL is an SEO ranking factor.
- Tech Support. When crap hits the fan (and it is a matter of when not if) you’ll want to know that you can reach out to tech support ASAP for fixing site issues. With us, we are already proactive everywhere possible, and responsive when need be. Reach us directly versus waiting on hold.
What’s more, we also honor the importance of ADA compliance options through Accessibe. See our blog on protecting your website from lawsuits while opening your website to the world.
Talk Website Hosting with Kodeak. See why we are your best bet!
We want to make it easy for you to understand and digest everything we’ve shared thus far. Whether this is all new to you or you’re well aware of the above-mentioned assets to website hosting, we are open to further discussing with you to see where we can help you optimize your site’s speed, performance, and ROI. Give us a call today for a free consultation.