If you’re a busy entrepreneur or the CEO of an understaffed small business, Web.com should be on your short list for a hosting company. Web.com provides not only hosting but also technical and marketing services like website promotion, e-commerce, WordPress installations, search engine optimization, lead generation, and Facebook management.
If you’re in a large enterprise, a firm that requires heavy-duty security, or if you’ve got a tech-savvy staff dedicated to creating and maintaining your website, you’ll probably find Web.com too limited for you. In particular, their development tools are extremely limited. However, if your business needs help with digital marketing, some of Web.com’s add-on services might be appealing.
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What Is Web.com Hosting?
Web.com is located in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s been in business since 1997. The company went public with its IPO in 2005 (Nasdaq: WEB). Since then, they’ve acquired at least eight other companies to help round out their service offerings. Once-independent companies like Leads.com, Yodle, and Network Solutions are now housed under the Web.com roof.
Web.com claims to have over three million customers, but since the company offers so many diverse products, it’s not clear how many of these customers are on hosting plans.
The executive team is led by Harvard-graduate David Brown, who has been the company’s Chairman, CEO, and President since 2000. Web.com’s approximately 2,200 employees work in the Americas and the United Kingdom.
Video: In business for over 20 years, Web.com knows a thing or two about small business struggles, persistence, and how to win.
In 2012, Web.com began sponsoring a series of PGA golf tournaments called the Web.com Tour. To support the tour, they’ve started offering small business awards for the local businesses that lie within geographic reach of the cities on each leg of the tour.
Web.com Features and Services
Web.com isn’t merely a web hosting company. It offers a wide variety of services that can be attractive to small businesses:
- Website Hosting
- Website Building and Creation
- Domain Registration
- E-commerce Websites
- Mobile Optimization Services
- Industry-specific Tools for Dentists, Realtors, and Others
- Automatic Website Backup and Restore
- Custom WordPress Site Creation
- Website Security
- Social Media Marketing
- Business Email Services
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Catering to Small Business Needs
If you want to sell products or services online, then you’ll probably want an e-commerce website.
If you just want to hang your shingle out on the web or provide prospective customers with information like locations, menus, or promotions, then you can opt for the less-expensive regular website plans.
Both regular and e-commerce hosting plans come with features that small business owners need, including:
- FTP Accounts
- Domain Name
- Business E-mail Addresses Accessible via Webmail
- Configuration for IMAP, POP3, and SMTP syncing
- Contact Management
- Business Calendar Services
- Spam Protection
- E-mail Forwarding
- Unlimited Data Transfer.
Types of Hosting Available
Web.com has two kinds of hosting plans, either of which can be purchased with a domain name registration.
- Regular website hosting
- E-commerce site hosting.
Web.com is a provider of only shared web hosting services. While you can choose a generic shared hosting option or one that offers a bit more and is geared toward those launching an e-commerce site, there are no options for other types of hosting.
If your website or traffic levels grow, you will need to look elsewhere for reseller plans, Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting, or dedicated servers.
Web.com provides support for WordPress sites (including a one-click installer to make setup easy), but the company does not offer specialized WordPress hosting packages.
Web.com’s hosting service is targeted to businesses that might need technical assistance, but they also provide a smattering of development tools like:
- WordPress CMS
- Message Boards
- Chat Functionality
- Photo Galleries
- Project Management Apps.
Web.com’s servers are UNIX-based and are compatible with your business’s existing software if it runs on Ruby on Rails, Python, PHP5, or Perl.
Choose From 3 Regular Website Hosting Plans
Web.com has six tiers of hosting plans for regular website hosting:
- Essential Hosting
- Professional Hosting
- Premium Hosting
- Express E-Commerce Hosting
- Standard E-Commerce Hosting
- Pro E-Commerce Hosting
Essential Hosting: The Basics
This plan is for businesses or entrepreneurs who merely want to have an online presence. This plan is the least expensive and comes with the lowest caps on FTP accounts, mailboxes, e-mail storage, and MySQL databases. You’ll have limited ability to host multimedia files, high-traffic web pages, or create interactive web forms like newsletter signup pages.
Professional Hosting: For Small Businesses and Busy Sites
is for small businesses that want to offer more engaging content types and expect more site visitors. Most businesses will probably opt for this plan since it’s affordable and provides a good deal of flexibility, especially if you’re not sure exactly what kind of content you’ll be hosting.
Premium Hosting: Scale Up
This plan offers more of everything compared to the previous two plans. It’s not clear how much better this plan is compared to the Professional plan for most businesses.
It’s probably only a good choice for businesses that anticipate a large volume of traffic.
Video: These small business owners use Web.com to do call tracking, discover cost per acquisition, and to know exactly where their leads are coming from.
Selling Online? Here Are the E-Commerce Hosting Plans
If you intend to sell anything through your small business website, you’ll need to go with one of Web.com’s e-commerce hosting plans.
These plans include shopping cart functionality, inventory management, and other features that make selling over the internet easy and secure for both you and your customers.
Express E-commerce Hosting
This plan allows for up to 20 products or services, includes the online store builder, and gives you professional (i.e., domain-based) e-mail addresses.
The transaction fees for this plan are higher than for the Standard and Pro plans. You won’t get e-mail autoresponders and you’ll only get a shared security certificate with this plan. Entrepreneurs just starting out might consider starting with this plan.
Standard E-Commerce Hosting: List Up to 500 Products
Standard E-Commerce will likely meet the needs of most small businesses (and some ambitious solo entrepreneurs) because it offers up to 500 products or services and offers a lower transaction fee.
The best feature of this plan is that it allows you to set up e-mail autoresponders for communicating with your customers based on their behavior and purchases.
Pro E-Commerce Hosting: List Unlimited Products
Gets all the features of the smaller plans above plus unlimited product listings which may suit some small businesses with huge product/service inventories.
It also offers a transaction fee that is lower than the other two plans. A dedicated SSL security certificate is included. You’ll need to do the math to see if this plan is worth the extra cost.
All of the e-commerce plans above come with a bundle of e-mail addresses for you and your employees. You get unlimited data transfer which means you’re free to use large images or multimedia files (like videos) to showcase your products.
Engage With Automatic Recommendations and Upsells
A particularly cool feature of all the e-commerce plans is that they come with automatic product recommendations and upselling. When a customer views Product A, the site will show them additional recommended products based on the transactional behavior of other customers who also viewed Product A.
E-Commerce Payment Processing and Shipping
For an e-commerce site, secure, dependable and easy payment processing is crucial. Web.com allows your customers to pay with credit cards or PayPal. Depending on what state your business is located in, Web.com’s payment processing system will also add the appropriate tax rates.
Your customers can choose from domestic and international shipping services via FedEx, UPS, DHL, USPS, and Canada Post.
Are There Transaction Fees?
In addition to the monthly hosting fee for an e-commerce site, Web.com also takes a percentage of your sales off the top as an additional requirement for your hosting your site with them. If you choose to offer credit card payments, an additional percentage of those transactions are subject to fees.
Video: Web.com pairs you with a website coach, who will walk you through the creation of your website.
The Web.com Control Panel
All Web.com hosting packages come with a GUI-based control panel you can use to manage your web server and website, view resource usage, and handle all account and billing related matters. Web.com plans to ship with either a the Plesk Control Panel or the Virtuozzo Control Panel.
Website Creation Tools and Services
Whether you pick one of Web.com’s regular hosting plans or an e-commerce plan, you’ll have the same options for designing your website. If you’ve got good design instincts or prefer strict control over the way your website works, you can opt to use Web.com’s tools and wizards to create your site in DIY mode.
Alternatively, you can pay a little extra to let Web.com handle the site creation based on your requirements and ideas.
Note that the initial setup of your site is free but changes you make further down the line may incur fees.
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If you're in the market for a new web hosting provider, be sure to check out our user reviews, our A-Z hosting guide and our top three popular hosting picks:
Do-It-Yourself Website Builder
Judging from Web.com’s website, their greatest selling feature is that they’ve made it very easy to create a website yourself. Their DIY, drag-and-drop wizards allow even the least tech-savvy entrepreneurs to put together a professional-looking website without much hassle. Some of the site building features you’ll see are:
- Hundreds of Designs to Choose From
- Thousands of Images to Use
- Endless Design Possibilities
- Drag and Drop Functionality
- Unlimited Access to Website Coaches
- A Free Domain
- A Business Email Address.
Websites designed using the builder come with a free domain name and business email. You can also integrate with other Web.com services/offerings, such as email and social media marketing, SEO and pay-per-click management, and e-commerce/local business listings.
If you do decide to build a website yourself and get stuck, Web.com gives you access to design support experts who can answer your questions.
Get a Custom Website Created
Are you an entrepreneur who strives to be a jack-of-all-trades? With Web.com, you can opt out of the technical part of website building, saving you time and potential headaches, by using their designers.
After consulting with you about your needs and ideas, Web.com will create a customized WordPress site (or an e-commerce store) in about a week.
There is no up-front fee for the website creation, but be sure to explore the post-launch monthly fees that will be charged to you (they include hosting and site maintenance, among other things).
A perk for small businesses is that Web.com’s custom designs include search engine optimization to help your site get found. Even after your initial design is online, you can continue to contact Web.com’s support team for tweaks and long-term maintenance.
Secure Your Site and Build Trust with SSL Certificates
For small businesses without IT experts to lean on, understanding a hosting provider’s approach to website security is critical from both a technology and financial standpoint.
Warranties Against Breaches
Web.com offers various types of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. SSL certificates use encryption to protect transactions from your site to the customer and vice versa. They also come with tiered warranties against breaches — from $10,000 to $250,000 depending on the certificate.
Web.com provides shared SSL for the first two tiers of e-commerce hosting plans. Shared SSL certificates are purchased by the hosting provider and protect all of Web.com’s customers housed on all of their servers.
The Pro hosting plan provides a dedicated SSL certificate which is unique to your business. All e-commerce plans are Payment Card Industry (PCI) certified.
Video: This Web.com video explains the importance of SEO for your website’s success.
Add-Ons and Premium Services
Regardless of which hosting plan you choose, you can add functionality a la carte.
Some of these features can be beneficial to entrepreneurs and small businesses but they can also be expensive. Make sure to get a quote in writing from Web.com before committing to any add-ons, then assess whether your business can handle the additional costs involved.
These services include the following:
- Perfect Privacy
- Shopping Cart
- Mobile Converter
- Additional Domains
- Marketing Services like Leadstream lead generation and SEO
This is what Web.com calls its domain masking service. That means your business’s name, address, and phone number (or the person who purchased the domain) aren’t published on the web for public viewing. It’s not provided for free so you’ll have to ask for it.
This functionality can be added to a regular site later after it’s been launched, so you don’t have to make this decision up front. What’s more, you can add a shopping cart to a website hosted outside of Web.com.
This feature from Web.com will allow your externally hosted website to take credit cards.
If your company’s website is hosted externally to Web.com and you realize its theme/design isn’t responsive (mobile-friendly), you can purchase Web.com’s mobile converter to update it. Google’s current algorithms downrank sites that aren’t responsive.
Web.com is happy to register as many domains as you’d like even if they aren’t hosted in its ecosystem. That’s because, in 2011, Web.com purchased Network Solutions, originally the internet’s sole provider of domain names.
Get Marketing and Design Help From Professionals
These are for small businesses that need help marketing and advertising their website. Web.com’s in-house marketers can help you set up and manage a Facebook page, run organic search optimizations, purchase pay-per-click (PPC) ads, and generate leads.
Get Qualified Leads
Web.com offers a service called Lead Stream that is a combination of PPC (pay-per-click) advertising and call tracking. (Call tracking is a technique that reveals the source of each inbound phone call. The end goal of call tracking is to know which marketing tactics — such as search engine ads — are generating the most qualified leads for your business.)
The Web.com team will first meet with you to determine the type of customer you’re targeting. Then they’ll design campaigns around that customer type.
You’ll have a dashboard to log in to so you can see exactly how many inbound calls came via the Lead Stream service.
In the video below, a husband and wife small business team discusses how their phone now “rings constantly” since signing up for Lead Stream.
They indicate that between 20 – 30% of their inbound calls are coming from Lead Stream.
The result: what was a “feast or famine” business buffeted by ups and downs is now a business with a consistent revenue stream.
Video: This husband and wife small business team discusses how using Web.com’s Leadstream service has helped them achieve their business objectives.
Get Your Local SEO Set Up Right
If your business serves local customers, Web.com can help you get on the map (literally and figuratively) in your neighborhood.
These services are some of the most expensive add-ons that Web.com offers, so consider and calculate what reasonable return on investment (ROI) you will expect. Also, consider whether you currently understand how local SEO and citations should be handled. If you’re unfamiliar with the processes, you may want to hire Web.com to handle it for you.
Then track your progress.
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What Kind of Technical Support is Available?
Web.com offers technical support via phone or chat as well as via their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. They also provide tips and tutorials via their “Small Business Forum” (which is really just a blog) and their Youtube channel.
Small business owners with e-commerce sites rely heavily on their online sales. As such, note that although Web.com professes a 99.99% uptime guarantee there is no indication that they’ll provide redress if your site goes down for a significant amount of time.
E-commerce Tools for Specialty Markets
If you’re an auto repair shop owner, a dentist, or a realtor, you’ll be interested to know that Web.com offers additional services designed for your specific industry.
Dental practices can use Lighthouse by Web.com to automate appointment confirmations, get reviews on Google and Yelp, and manage appointment requests.
Realtors and real estate agents may find Web.com’s TorchX application useful for customer relationship management (CRM) including e-mail campaigns, posting listings on your website with maps, and client activity notifications.
Auto repair shop owners can purchase PPC ads, localized search engine optimization services, Google maps integration, and lead generation tailored to their type of shop.
What Do I Need to Know About the Terms and Conditions?
Since you’re an entrepreneur, there’s no doubt that you’re a savvy shopper, even when it comes to websites. As with most service purchases, make sure to read Web.com’s terms and conditions thoroughly before signing an agreement.
Pricing on some plans isn’t clear (and is contradictory in some cases) so getting the cost in writing is a smart move. Also, pay close attention to Web.com’s cancellation policies as it regards their rights to your site or domain.
Lastly, ensure that you understand the backup and restore procedures in case you need them.
Is There a Money-Back Guarantee?
Web.com does not offer any type of refund or money-back guarantee.
Three Reasons to Choose Web.com
Here are three reasons
- You’re a solo entrepreneur or a small business owner who needs a website or an e-commerce storefront without a lot of cash investment up front, and you need SEO and lead generation assistance.
- You have a do-it-yourself mindset but don’t have website building experience.
- You’re in the dentistry, real estate, or auto repair industry and you need specialized services to help run and grow your business.
Three Reasons Not to Choose Web.com
Meanwhile, here are three reasons why you might want to give this host a miss.
- If you’re an IT professional or web designer, Web.com probably isn’t flexible enough to meet your needs.
- If your business requires a VPS, dedicated servers, or runs applications that aren’t supported by Web.com’s development software, it’s best to look elsewhere for hosting.
- If you already have an existing website hosted elsewhere that you’d like to transfer to another hosting provider, it’s unclear whether Web.com will facilitate the move.
How does Web.com Compare to GreenGeeks, Wix, and iPage?
If Web.com looks good but isn’t the perfect fit for you, check out the following alternatives:
GreekGeeks – Technologically Advanced Green Hosting
GreenGeeks offers fast and scalable web hosting from an eco-friendly provider. If you want full-featured packages from a sustainable company, this host is the one for you.
Wix – Start with a Simple Site Builder
Strictly speaking, Wix is an all-in-one site builder, not a web hosting provider. However, if you want the easiest path to a well-designed website, you might choose Wix over Web.com for its web design features.
iPage – Get Hosting and a Site Builder
iPage offers great packages at great prices, all backed by rock solid customer service. iPage is very similar to Web.com, but iPage’s offerings are, generally speaking, more robust.
Web.com vs. HostGator
As you are looking for an entry-level web hosting company, you are likely to come across HostGator, one of Web.com’s competitors. How do these two compare? Which option is better for you?
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Web.com Manages the Technical Details for You
Web.com offers just one type of hosting (shared hosting) and only three plans from which you can choose. However, the company focuses primarily on offering its managed services — rather than forcing you to do all of the work required to launch, configure, and maintain your website, Web.com offers the professional services you need to outsource all of this work.
However, if you are interested in managing everything yourself, you can still opt for the company’s inexpensive, but full-featured web hosting packages.
HostGator Has More Plans
HostGator, however, is a bigger company that offers more options. Though there are more hosting types and plans from which you can choose, it is not an overwhelming selection.
While HostGator does not emphasize its professional services to the extent that Web.com does, the company is known for its top-notch customer service.
Web.com has some attractive services for small business owners and entrepreneurs, especially if you need a low-cost way to get your website up quickly. They also allow for some scalability in their hosting plans for both regular websites and e-commerce sites.
In a nutshell, it’s a good first hosting service for an entrepreneur, but if you scale quickly the costs may require you to look elsewhere. Likewise, if you’re looking for enterprise-level services, Web.com probably won’t be a good fit.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Have more questions? Read on!
Does Web.com hosting offer a 99.9% Uptime Guarantee?
Yes, Web.com hosting offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee on all hosting plans including their standard and e-commerce hosting packages on all tiers. In theory, at least, this means that they will strive to ensure that the service is available almost all of the time.
Does Web.com offer Virtual Private Server or Dedicated Hosting?
Unfortunately, Web.com offers neither Virtual Private Server (VPS) nor Dedicated hosting services to end users. The company provides exclusively shared hosting plans. Unfortunately, this limits the opportunity to upscale your hosting if demand for your website grows over time.
Does Web.com support web developer tools?
Yes, Web.com supports a wide variety of developer-friendly tools such as the WordPress content management system (CMS), Joomla, Drupal, alongside other message board tools and chat room facilities which you can use to enhance your website or web store online.
What types of partnerships and acquisitions has Web.com executed?
According to Wikipedia, Web.com has purchased, or formed partnerships, with the following companies:
- Solid Cactus (e-commerce)
- Network Solutions (hosting)
- SnapNames (domain services)
- NameJet (partnership)
- Scoot.com (UK business directory)
- Yodle (marketing services)
- Chase PaymentTech (partnership)
- Sam’s Club (partnership to provide marketing services to small businesses)