Not all web hosts are created equal. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true. The computer that your website is running on matters. And like everything today, there are a million (or more) different configurations and choices that go into a web host, which can make it confusing and difficult to make a decision. Like everything else, experience helps guide decision making. Working with an experienced developer who has been in the trenches can help put your website in the best possible hosting scenario.
Cheap (Hosting) is Expensive
We learned our lesson early on that cheap hosting ends up being expensive. What do I mean? Even though you may only be paying $8 or $10 a month, it may be costing you search ranking. Or even worse, you may be turning away visitors because the page just isn’t loading fast enough. If nobody sees your content, then you might as well not even have a website!
In our infancy as a web development company, we “allowed” our clients to pick their own hosts, and 9 times out of 10, it was a “deluxe” hosting package with their domain registrar. These types of hosting packages are called shared hosting packages and their designed to get as many websites (hundreds or even thousands) packed on to a single server. Your “parcel” (account) is allowed a certain amount of memory (RAM) and hard drive space (storage). You share the CPU (processing power) and the bandwidth with all the other websites.
When it came time to launch the site, we would migrate it from our server to the client’s host. That’s when we ran into many issues with old software versions on the host. Once everything was up and running, it was slower than when we had it in development. This made me crazy, because as a developer I want the best for the site I just built. I would never want to put my baby in a over-crowded, resource-starved daycare!
Supporting our clients’ hosts was becoming a big chore, and most of the time our hands were tied since we didn’t have control over the server. That’s when we decided that we would “require” all of our new projects to live on our hosting platform. This ended up being a win-win for us and our clients.
What’s Hosting Got to Do with SEO?
Google ranks sites based on content AND performance. In addition to reading what you have to say, Google wants to see:
- Fast server response time
- SSL encryption (https)
- Optimized images
- Page caching
These are all pieces of the search algorithms that we need to attend to.
Fast Server Response Time
This is the time it takes for the server to respond to your query. Your query is the actual web address you want to load. You want this time to be in the milliseconds, so that the request comes back to right away and that great article on hosting comes up quickly!
To help the server response time, we also recommend using a CDN (content delivery network) to offload the images and assets (CSS & JS files) to other servers around the globe. This gets the biggest files as close to the user as possible, thereby reducing the amount of fiber and copper and RF it needs to go through in order to get to their device. Every one of our hosting and maintenance packages includes offloading your content to Amazon Web Services CloudFront.
SSL Encryption (https)
In 2019, you should feel slightly embarrassed to not have https:// on the front of your URL. There’s been such a push for encrypted websites that Google now takes that into account when ranking your site. Its included in every one of our hosting and maintenance packages.
Not only should you be including ALT information on every one of your images so Google knows what it is, but you should also be compressing them so their file size is small. The smaller the file, the less data to transfer, the quicker it loads on the user’s device. Today, there are many techniques and tools for compressing images in a way that is almost humanly undetectable. All of our hosting and maintenance packages come with image optimization.
Cache Your Pages
WordPress websites, and any other website that uses a CMS (content management system) loads content dynamically. This means, when the page request is sent to the server, the server actually looks up information in a database and then outputs it the way the developer programmed. A ton of stuff happens on the server for that one request, and it takes time (even though its milliseconds) and it costs CPU power.
Many “brochure-ware” websites (like this one) serves up the same content on any given URL. This means, its redundant for the server to process that request in real time, every time. Unless you have a membership or eCommerce website, the content remains mostly static.
All of our hosting and maintenance packages use a technique called caching to help speed up the page load process, and reduce the load on the server. So when a visitor comes, chances are we’re loading just 1 saved file instead of processing the millions of lines of code to get to the final page.
Don’t Cheat Yourself
Don’t do yourself wrong. Just like you wouldn’t want to bury your retail operation in the middle of a quiet residential street, don’t put your website on a server that’s hard to get to. You’re only wasting your time, effort and money.
Hosting can be complicated, but Creare Web Solutions makes it easy for you because we care about your website and treat it as our own (actually, we probably treat yours BETTER than our own!).
Do you currently have a website that seems to be slow? Are you looking to build a new website and want to make sure you get the best value? If so, drop us a note and we’d be more than happy to help you out!