This article compares ten web hosting services to determine the best website hosting for small business.
In this digital age, every business needs an internet presence. The costs of setting up a website and maintaining it are often major roadblocks for small businesses and hinder them from maintaining an online presence. The availability of a good looking, responsive and reliable website can greatly enhance the appeal of a young business and add to its potential. Whether it’s new restaurants, barbers or laundromats, small businesses are catching up with their larger competitors by providing business information and advance booking capabilities online.
Today, we present you with several industry leading web hosting options. We provide information about some very important service metrics such as the bandwidth allowed, number of email addresses provided, uptime, reliability and pricing structures to determine the best small business hosting. We also discuss some of the most important concerns that small businesses face when choosing the right option for web hosting.
Here is a table for you to determine the best website hosting for small businesses. We use 6 factors listed below to provide you with a broad overview of what’s out there. We notice that pricing seems to be the main area where services distinguish themselves from others. Most services offer almost exactly the same features, but they set themselves apart from their rivals by introducing different pricing plans.
|Product||Product/Model Name||Product Page Link||WordPress hosting||Bandwidth||Email Addresses||Free Domain Registration||Customer Support||Price (lowest cost plan per month)||# Dollar Signs||Star Rating (out of 5)|
|1||Bluehost||https://www.bluehost.com/||Yes||Unlimited||Unlimited||One time fee||Chat, email, phone||5.95||$$||4.5|
|2||Godaddy||http://godaddy.com||Yes||Unlimited||Depends on the plan||Yes||Email, phone||3.99||$||4|
|3||Hostgator||http://www.hostgator.com/||Yes||Unlimited||Depends on the plan||Yes||Chat, email, phone||7.96||$$||4|
|4||iPage||https://www.ipage.com/ipage/index.html||Yes||Unlimited||Unlimited||Yes||Chat, email, phone||1.99 (intro offer)||$||4|
|5||fatcow||http://www.fatcow.com/||Yes||Unlimited||Unlimited||Yes||Chat, email, phone||7.95||$$||3.5|
|6||eHost||https://www.ehost.com/||Yes||Unlimited||Unlimited||Yes||Chat, email, phone||2.75||$||3|
|7||HostClear||https://www.hostclear.com/||Yes||Unlimited||Unlimited||Yes||Chat, email, phone||19.95||$$$$||3|
|8||web.com||http://www.web.com/||Yes||Unlimited||Unlimited||No||Email, phone, unclear about chat||5.99||$$||3.5|
|9||justHost||https://www.justhost.com/||Yes||Unlimited||Unlimited||Yes||Chat, email, phone||7.99||$$||2|
|10||HostMonster||https://www.hostmonster.com/||Yes||Unlimited||Unlimited||Yes||Chat, email, phone||7.99||$$||2|
While there is no one-size-fits-all type of service for everyone, there are however some key elements that all should consider when choosing the best website hosting for small business.
For small businesses, the most important factor is probably the entrepreneur’s capability to pay. Small businesses simply cannot afford to dole out large monthly payments. The presence of multiple web hosts offering multiple plans alleviates this concern to some extent. Multiple hosting services offer a free initial plan. We have compared several prices in the table above. However, keep in mind that there are several other pricing plans for each service.
One common theme amongst all these companies is that they offer great discounts if you sign up for a contract that is at least 3 years. This means that you will be required to use the service for at least three years to access the lower monthly pricing. However, small businesses are often unwilling to take that risk. Also, some of these companies offer extremely low rates to lure customers in and then surprise them with a much higher monthly pricing rate after a certain time period, most often in a year.
The technical understanding of the business owner or operator is also a key factor in making the right choice. If you are a complete novice, with absolutely zero experience of building a website, then getting a web host with a website builder should be on top of your list.
All of these services offer WordPress hosting. WordPress is an awesome tool that is meant for making website construction and maintenance very easy. You should definitely look that up if you are unsure where to start.
Needs of the company
For small business website hosting, the company you opt for has a lot to do with the needs of your business. There are some important questions that you need to answer in this regard.
- How much traffic are you expecting?
- What is the demographic of your audience/clients?
- Does your business offer general products/services? Or does it belong to a specific niche
Typically, the larger the needs of the website (traffic, storage, etc.), the more reliable and costly your service will have to be. For startups, you may want to consider getting a Virtual Private Server, and when the business need expands, you can get a Dedicated Server.
If you’re in the retail business, then having eCommerce functions would be necessary.
We went through a lot of small business web hosting reviews for all the sites that I have listed above. which are two sites that provide very useful information about hosting services. The most common concerns amongst customers were bandwidth limitations, reliability, pricing and customer service. Most services seemed to do well with the uptime and reliability. Customer service was an area where most services could use some improvement. Overall, in terms of reviews, Bluehost, iPage, and Hostgator seemed to do the best.
The reviews for this service were great. Most users lauded their great uptime rate, value for money and support services. There were some minor complaints about the lack of features but overall, Bluehost comes out looking great.
GoDaddy’s reviews were less flattering. Users were generally satisfied with the value they were getting but there were some issues with the features provided and the support given.
Hostgator generally performed well. There were some issues reported with the customer service, but overall, consumers seemed happy.
iPage performed well across all the metrics. Users particularly liked its features such as the website builder. As with others, there were some issues with customer support but generally users were satisfied.
Reviews generally praised its price but the other features seemed pretty unremarkable and average.
eHost was also reviewed as a fairly average provider. Customers generally appreciated their uptime and features but weren’t too enthusiastic about anything else.
People were dissatisfied with their performance. They seem to have issues in all of their performance metrics.
Reviews for this service were generally poor. Customers were dissatisfied with the customer service and a lack of features that this platform provided.
This was also reviewed as a mediocre service provider with average performance across all its features.
hostMonster failed to make any real advances over its rivals. Reviews lambasted it’s poor customer service low value for the price.
Here we will discuss some of the basic and most commonly asked questions about web hosting:
What is web hosting?
Think of web hosting the same way as you think about renting out a shop space. You buy a website name, you get some space on a server from your web hosting service that hosts your site, and you get to store all the pertinent information that you get from the website into a database provided by your service. Just like a landlord, your host server maintains their servers and the space where your website is kept, so that your website is easily and readily available.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an online open source web creation and management tool system. Open source means that is available for use by everyone. It provides some excellent web creation tools that make a great and very responsive front end interface for your website. It also allows you to update your page easily and retrieve and analyze any data you may receive through the web page. It’s easy to use interface has made it immensely popular worldwide and it currently hosts about 20% of the world’s websites.
Is hosting a website absolutely essential for a new and small business?
Having an online presence greatly enhances the visibility of the services that you provide. It can help you compete with larger and more established businesses. Having a registered domain name and a good interface greatly increases the appeal of your business. In addition, having an email address affiliated with your domain name also associates a high level of professionalism with your business. If you stay inside a small niche or a very specific geographic area, then it may not make too much sense for you to invest a lot of time and resources for expensive web hosting options, but we think that for any growth beyond a particular niche or location certainly requires an online presence. Think how many times you have seen a new restaurant and searched the name of that restaurant online to find out more about it.
What resources can I access if I don’t have any knowledge about the web and don’t know where to start?
All the major web hosting services have a plethora of support staff and documentation to help you through the process of getting your site up and running. However, if you do not want to deal with any of that, you can always turn to many software houses that specialize in web development, however, that might be quite expensive and unnecessary for a small business. You can also hire experienced freelancers that specialize in helping small businesses to set up an online presence. This option is definitely more cost effective; however, you must be keen in selecting the right freelancer, one who is reliable, experienced and can get you up and running quickly.
Overall, there are many options to choose from. What you choose will ultimately depend on your budget and your needs. There are are also issues around geography as not all of these services provide plans for all countries.
In terms of having the most extensive and widespread network, GoDaddy wins. It also wins in terms having the most well-known brand name and brand recognition.
However, we would, in the end, recommend Bluehost as the best small business web hosting company because of its mixture of great value for the price, excellent customer service and great customer reviews. Bluehost is quickly catching up to GoDaddy and we hope to see a healthy rivalry in the future that will benefit the users in the form of more price cuts, better features, and better customer support.