Web hosting is a service that enables your website to be accessed on the internet using your own domain name (e.g., youname.com). It may sound complicated, but in reality, it’s very easy to set up and it’s also very affordable. If you’re building a site with WordPress, you can get a web hosting plan directly from a web hosting provider, but if you’re using a site builder, it will most likely be included in your plan.
Planning to build a website with WordPress? Save time and money by getting a web hosting plan before building your small business website, as many plans come with a free domain name, a free SSL certificate, and one-click WordPress installation.
What Is Web Hosting & How It Works
Web hosting is what allows websites to be available on the internet. In other words, since websites need to be connected to servers in order to be accessed by the public, think of web hosting as a service where you can rent space on an existing server. It may sound complex, but web hosting companies make it simple for anyone to get and connect web hosting to their website. It’s affordable with an average cost of around $3 to $15 per month.
Web hosting services work by connecting web pages (which collectively are websites) to servers where these web pages are stored and uploaded to the internet, making websites accessible on the web. In more technical terms, servers not only store web pages, but they also communicate with and respond to requests. This means that when a user types in a web address, or URL, servers locate and display the corresponding website.
Why Choosing the Right Web Host Matters
Don’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong web host. While it may sound as though all web hosting is the same, the reality is that it’s not. Choosing the wrong web host can cost you time and money, in addition to creating a bad user experience, harming your site’s search engine optimization (SEO), and putting your site and its visitors’ security at risk.
Here are a few reasons why you should take the time to choose the right web host:
- Slow load times cause a poor user experience, hurt SEO, and cause high bounce rates.
- Not all hosts include extras like a free domain and business email, so it will cost you more money if you choose one that doesn’t.
- It will cost you extra time if you have to connect your own domain, get your own SSL certificate, and manually connect your host.
- There are increased security risks with low-quality hosting providers.
- There is often site downtime with hosts that aren’t reliable.
How to Choose the Right Web Hosting Plan
With so many web hosting companies, each with a number of different plans, it can be difficult to figure out which is best for your business website. When choosing a web hosting plan, consider things such as reliability, speed, uptime guarantees, available contract lengths, the type of hosting that suits your needs (including the amount of storage and bandwidth you need), as well as extras such as a domain name and business email.
Here are 10 questions to ask to find the right web hosting plan for you:
- What types of plans does it offer?
- Does the plan include a free domain?
- What about a free SSL certificate?
- How long are the contracts?
- How much storage and bandwidth does it include?
- Does it have an uptime guarantee?
- Is there a money-back guarantee?
- How can I get in touch with support if I need it?
- Does it include free business email addresses?
- What do current users say about it?
Types of Web Hosting
When choosing a web hosting plan, you’ll quickly find that there are a number of different options: shared, virtual private server (VPS), and dedicated. If you’re like most small businesses, you’ll likely be left with some questions. Are the low-cost shared plans a great value or too good to be true? What exactly is VPS and is dedicated hosting worth it or an unnecessary splurge? Shared hosting will suit most business’ needs, but get the breakdown below.
Here are the three primary types of web hosting for businesses:
- Shared: (Price: $3 to $10 per month) Shared web hosting is the lowest-cost type of web hosting. As the name implies, websites using shared hosting will share a server as opposed to each having their own server. This makes it very affordable, but it may also make it more susceptible to a security breach and it may yield a slower site speed.
- VPS: (Price: $15 to $120 per month) Short for “virtual private server,” VPS hosting is similar to shared hosting as it shares a server with others, but with the difference that the websites that share the server cannot affect one another in terms of speed or security.
- Dedicated: (Price: $70 to $250 per month) As the name states, a dedicated server entails having your site on its own private server. It’s one of the most expensive types of web hosting and requires users to manage their own server, but it’s also the most secure and has the highest site speed. The average small business does not need dedicated hosting, though it is ideal for large ecommerce websites.
While shared, VPS, and dedicated are the primary options for hosting a business website, you’ll also notice other types of web hosting, such as reseller hosting. Small businesses will generally find shared and VPS hosting plans to be sufficient for their needs and well within their budget, given pricing as low as $3 per month with top providers such as Bluehost.
The Best Web Hosting Providers for Small Businesses & Blogs
There’s no shortage of web hosting companies and, as they are all competing for your attention, it can be a challenge to decipher which is the best. To help, we recommend the following web hosting providers for small businesses as they are all reliable with low-cost, feature-rich plans: Bluehost, DreamHost, HostGator, InMotion, and GoDaddy.
- Bluehost: Best for ultra-low-cost plans with long-term contracts
- DreamHost: Best for month-to-month and short-term contracts
- HostGator: Best for unlimited storage at a competitive price
- InMotion: Best for super-fast web hosting
- GoDaddy: Best for easily building a site with its site builder
Want to learn more about our recommended web hosts? Get the full breakdown of the best web hosting companies, including features, pricing and plans, and customer reviews.
How to Set Up Web Hosting
It might sound complicated to set up web hosting, but it’s actually pretty simple. Start by deciding which type of hosting plan you need and then choose a web hosting provider. Choose the plan that matches your needs and purchase it. If you don’t already own a domain name, choose one through your web host, and then connect web hosting to your website using your web host’s one-click installation tool.
Here’s how to host a website in four steps:
1. Choose a web hosting provider (e.g., Bluehost, DreamHost, and InMotion)
2. Purchase a plan
3. Choose a new domain (optional)
4. Use the one-click WordPress installation tool to connect to your site
Want more guidance? Follow the step-by-step instructions on how to host a website.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the best web hosts?
The web hosts that are most commonly regarded as the best include Bluehost, InMotion, SiteGround, LiquidWeb, and Hostinger. What these hosts have in common is that they provide reliable, secure, and affordable web hosting plans.
Is Bluehost the best web host for bloggers?
Bluehost is frequently promoted by bloggers given its low-cost, yet feature-rich plans. However, it’s not solely used by bloggers. Bluehost is a top choice for many small businesses as well. The reason being that it’s a good web host that offers a number of plans that help you easily scale your hosting as your business and its website traffic grows.
What’s the difference between a domain & web hosting?
If you’re just getting started with web design, you’ve probably heard that you need a domain and web hosting, which is often provided by one company. Understanding the difference between the two may be confusing when they’re talked about in conjunction. However, a domain is your web address (e.g., yourbusiness.com), whereas web hosting is the service that enables your site to be live and accessible on the web.