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.
- 1 About the Company
- 2 Web.com’s Suite of Services
- 3 Add-Ons and Premium Services
- 4 Support
- 5 Specialty Markets
- 6 The Fine Print
- 7 Three Reasons to Choose Web.com
- 8 Three Reasons Not to Choose Web.com
- 9 Summary
About the Company
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.
Mixing Pro Golf With Small Business
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’s Suite of 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 and creation
- Domain registration
- E-commerce sites
- Mobile optimization for existing websites
- Industry-specific tools for dentists, realtors, and auto shop owners
- Automatic website backup and restore
- and more.
Web.com’s Hosting Plans
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 only offers shared hosting plans. If you’re looking for dedicated servers, virtual private servers (VPS), or private clouds, you’ll need to go elsewhere.
Which Hosting Type Is Right for You?
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:
- A domain name
- Business e-mail addresses accessible via webmail and configured for IMAP, POP3, and SMTP syncing
- Contact management
- Business calendar
- Spam protection
- E-mail forwarding
- Unlimited data transfer.
Web.com’s hosting service is targeted to businesses that might need technology assistance, but they also provide a smattering of development tools like:
- Open source applications like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal
- Message boards, chat functionality, and 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.
Regular Website Hosting Plans
Web.com has three tiers of hosting plans for regular website hosting:
- Essential Hosting 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 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 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.
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.
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.
- Express E-commerce Hosting 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 will likely meet the needs of most small businesses (and some ambitious solopreneurs) 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 includes 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.
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.
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 initial setup of your site is free but changes you make further down the line may incur fees.
Do It Yourself
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 wizards allow even the least tech-savvy entrepreneurs to put together a professional-looking website without much hassle. Some of the site building tools you’ll are:
- Over 300 design templates
- Step-by-step instruction
- Drag and drop functionality
- Free stock images.
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.
Custom Websites in One Week
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.
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.
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. 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 ecommerce 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.
Add-Ons and Premium Services
Regardless of which hosting plan you choose, you can add on additional 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.
- Perfect Privacy 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.
- Shopping cart functionality can be added to a regular site later, after it’s been launched, so you don’t have to make this decision upfront. What’s more, you can add a shopping cart to a website hosted outside of Web.com.
- Take-A-Payment from Web.com will allow your externally hosted website to take credit cards.
- Mobile converter: 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.
- Additional domains — 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.
- Premium agency services 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. 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. Then track your progress.
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.
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.
The Fine Print
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.
Three Reasons to Choose Web.com
- You’re a solopreneur or a small business owner who needs a website or an e-commerce storefront without a lot of cash investment upfront.
- 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
- 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.
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.
If you still don’t know if Web.com is right for you based on our expert analysis, check our our sister site WhoIsHostingThis.com. There you will find roughly a hundred reviews from actual Web.com users just like you. No bias — just the straight dope from other website owners.