How We Chose the Best Small Business Web Hosting ServicesWeb hosting companies make myriad claims and boast of a variety of features. Some of those features are more important than others, though, such as types of server, uptime and load speed, and customer support. All our top choices offer robust hosting options at reasonable price points; take a look at our reviews to see which one might be the best fit for your small business.
Multiple Server TypesThere are multiple server types available, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Server needs can change over time, so we picked companies that offered more than one type. If your business grows and you want to make the switch from, say, a shared server WordPress site to a private VPS, you should be able to do so without stress or drama.
Uptime and Load SpeedUptime refers to the amount of time that a hosting system is operational, while load speed measures how fast your website loads each page. These are two important factors in choosing a website host because they affect the reliability and speed of your website. We checked upload and load speeds with a third-party website to ensure that all advertised rates were valid. Significant downtime is one sign that your host company is dropping the ball on service — all our choices clock in with at least 99.9% uptime.
Customer SupportIf your website is down or you have an issue, it’s crucial for you to be able to resolve it quickly. We chose web hosting companies that offer 24/7 customer support in a variety of ways, including phone and live chat. We placed an emphasis on customer service reps who were friendly, professional and knowledgeable on their company’s products, so that you can get questions answered and problems solved with a minimum of trouble and wasted time.
What is Small Business Web Hosting?
Web hosting refers to where your website lives — i.e., the physical location of the coded files that make up your website’s pages. Those pages live on a server owned by your hosting company. For small businesses, a reliable hosting company can mean the difference between failure and success — especially in our socially-distanced current world.
The best small business web hosting services allow your website to run with nearly instantaneous page loading and no downtime, and features security tools that keep it safe from hackers. All our chosen web hosts include 24/7/365 customer service support as part of their plans, which we think is pretty important considering that your website is — or should be — up and running all day, every day.
Web hosts can be divided into those who provide the space, but let you handle all the details on your own, and those who provide managed solutions, which give you a hand to hold through the process of creating and managing your website. If you’re too busy with the daily work of your business, a managed site plan can be a lifesaver.
The most popular web platform, by far, is WordPress, but most (though not all) web hosts offer a range of options, letting you create your site in other content management systems like Joomla or Drupal, using a shared server or dedicated one and offering other options that allow you to customize your site and your work with it so that it meets your needs smoothly and easily.
Benefits of Small Business Web Hosting
You’ll need to work with a small business web hosting company in order for your website to be online and available to your customers. A good web host provides a range of benefits for you and your company.
- They provide the space needed to store your files. This is the most basic benefit of a web host. Your website needs to “live” somewhere, and by hiring a web hosting company, you’re basically renting space for the files that create your site.
- They take care of the technical details so you don’t have to. A good web host will make sure your site is live, they’ll back up your files regularly and they will ensure that good security measures are in place so that you won’t get hacked. If you do, they’ll help you get back online as quickly as possible.
- They offer branded email addresses. Not all host companies do this, but many offer this as a free or low-cost service. It ensures your emails look professional and establishes you as a legitimate player in your field.
- They can, in many cases, create a stylish and professional website for you. Some of our top choices allow you to work with web designers on their staff to create a site that is optimized for the type of business that you’re in. They can help you, for example, set up a sales function on your site that will provide a smooth customer experience and result in growing sales numbers for you.
- They provide excellent technical support. This support is preferably available around the clock, to deal with glitches and help you make changes when needed. Websites are complex, and it’s easy to get in over your head when working on them. A good tech support person will first, listen to you so that he or she understands what you need, and second, take the lead in making it happen.
What to look for in a Small Business Web Host
Your small business is unique, and what you are looking for in a web host may be different than what your neighbor’s business is looking for. In general, though, here are a few things to consider when searching for the best small business web hosting service.
- Excellent uptime and load speed history: Your site is only interacting with customers when it’s up; if you have a web host that goes down regularly, it’s time to consider a switch. You’re looking for an uptime record of at least 99.90%. Lost revenue and brand damage can happen if your site goes down right in the middle of a traffic spike.
- Multiple server types available: Businesses change and grow. You may start out with a small site on a shared server with minimal bandwidth and storage space, but if you grow, you want to know that your site can be scaled up to a dedicated server or VPS when needed.
- Top-notch customer support, preferably available 24/7/365; because when you’re checking inventory at 5 a.m. before your big holiday sale, and your site goes down, you want someone at the other end of the line now who can get you back up and running before the doors open.
- Advanced security features: This is worth asking about, because hackers are becoming more sophisticated by the day, and you’ll only have peace of mind if you know that your site is as safe as possible behind a firewall or with other monitoring and security software at work beyond the scenes. For starters, see if your host offers a free SSL certificate with its plans.
The Cost of Small Business Web Hosting
Cost for small business web hosting can range from a few dollars a month — or even less — to $30 or more dollars a month. But don’t assume that the lowest cost is right for you. At the low end, your web host may be giving you only space on a server, and nothing more.
At the high end, you may be getting unlimited bandwidth, managed services, and other perks that mean you don’t have to worry about your website at all or handle the tasks needed to keep it updated and running smoothly. In other words, the additional cost is going to good use.
In the end, whether you choose a bare-bones plan or one with all the bells and whistles, it’s a personal decision that should be based on the needs of your business, your time constraints, and your own knowledge base. If you’re web-savvy and have the time and energy to devote to maintaining the site and performing updates, consider one of our lower-priced choices.
If, on the other hand, you just want someone to come and take the job of managing — or even creating — your website off your plate, you’ll find companies on our list that are happy to do the job for you.