What’s The Best Web Hosting For Small Business?
Choosing the best Best web hosting for *your* small business is a tough and often all too confusing process. It’s tough especially because there is no such thing as an absolute “best web hosting for small business.” There is only the web hosting that is right for you considering all the tradeoffs.
Here’s a quiz that helps you balance all the usual tradeoffs to figure out what is the best small business web hosting (updated for 2017 / 2018) for your business based on your preferences (or skip to the summary of choices).
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Disclosure: I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this site, including the ones mentioned in this quiz. My recommendations are based on my experiences as an independent paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Based on my experience working with many hosting companies, there are a few that are a good fit for most people. Here’s a summary of the companies included in the quiz.
Best Web Hosting for Small Businesses Summary
|Name||Best if you want…||Features!|
|InMotion||…high-performance & independent-owned w/ great support.||See Features.|
|SiteGround||…good support & advanced features w/ plans to grow.||See Features.|
|Bluehost||…name-brand hosting w/ good support, pricing & clean interface.||See Features.|
|Weebly||…drag & drop design w/ good support & marketing features.||See Features.|
What To Look for in Hosting for Your Small Business
First, remember that “shared” is by far and away what most website owners need. It means that you are “sharing” a part of a server. Usually these plans work well for websites serving ~15,000 visits per month. There’s plenty of variables in that number, but it’s a good ballpark.
Second, keep in mind that if you get shared web hosting, it’s incredibly flexible. You can run WordPress on really any hosting company offers Linux shared hosting. It can run email. It can runs listservs, scripts, wikis – really anything you want to run online as a website.
This web hosting quiz takes all the most common considerations and maps out the answers to the best web hosting for small business based on my experience both running websites and consulting with a range of small business clients (you can read about my specific experiences on my reviews page). So take the quiz and see who fits your needs the best!
Here’s the considerations included on the quiz –
If you purchase basically any type of hosting, then that hosting will be able to run email.
Now, in 2017, email hosting has a lot more caveats.
The first caveat are 3rd party email services like Google Apps and Microsoft Outlook. Many small businesses opt to use those services for their top of the line spam protection, integration with other products (ie, cloud storage), usability and familiarity. Many businesses don’t mind paying the extra fees for those services on top of their hosting, because they are – well, worth it.
If you are paying for 3rd party email services though, you’ll still want to purchase hosting services that integrate easily.
But – using a 3rd party email service also opens up the possibility of skipping web hosting and simply purchasing a service for your website, such as a hosted website builder. Now – those services have their own tradeoffs, but it is something to consider.
The second caveat is the quality of email services. In 2017, you simply must secure your email communications, use the latest protocols and integrate cutting-edge spam protection. Those are no longer simply for controlling annoyances – they are critical to your business. All the service mentioned include those features, but when you are shopping, it’s important to factor in the quality of email that is included.
Everyone wants a good deal. But defining your budget helps narrow down your choices. Think about when you go to buy a car – setting a price of $20,000 will rule out the Ferrari.
The other thing to consider with hosting pricing is how long you are locked in for. Some hosts require that you prepay for a year (they’ll usually offer a discount though) and some allow you to pay monthly.
Side note – if this is *the* most important consideration, I also created a guide to the best low cost hosting quiz. There is some overlap, but I included some providers who place heavy caps (or limited support) for very cheap rates.
Everyone wants great customer service. But providing high-quality customer service across a range of support channels costs money. If you are comfortable Googling and figuring problems out for yourself, it might not be as important as pricing or performance.
Some people want a clean, smooth, user-friendly backend. Some don’t care about the design – they just want everything to be there and to function. And still others really don’t care about the backend – they want all technical options open for professionals (either a hired developer or customer support) to use as needed.
Features & Performance
If you are going to be actively use your website to grow your business, you’ll need to consider it as more than a place to “hold” your website. You’ll want a hosting company that provides a high-level or performance. Additionally, you’ll want to consider features that, even if you don’t use them, your contractors or employees might. These features might be one-click staging, SSH, subdomains, caching, cloud upgrades, etc.
Design Options / Drag and Drop Builder
Some business owners want to hire a designer, some don’t mind using a template / theme, and some want the ability to drag and drop edit their website. There is no “best” way, but you should consider what you feel comfortable with. If you don’t need web hosting per se – only a website service, then you might find a hosted website builder like Weebly to work. If you want web hosting, but do want a good builder, then you’ll want to consider those options closely. Bundled builders can vary widely. Some are nothing more than Facebook-esque profile setups and some are quite innovative that install “on-top” of widely used website software.