How to Avoid Web Hosting Problems Once and For All
Bluehost is one of the most recommended web hosting plans on the internet.
Despite also being one of the slowest.
Bad web hosting can wreak havoc on site performance; hurting user experience, jeopardizing SEO, and even sabotaging conversions.
How come everyone recommends Bluehost then?
Here’s why (and how to protect yourself from similarly poor hosting options).
Why is Bluehost Web Hosting Popular?
The primary source of revenue for most bloggers is affiliate sales.
They recommend a product, their audience purchases based on a recommendation, and they get a quick cut of the revenue.
There’s nothing wrong with that per se. It’s a valid way to make money, while also benefiting customers because you can hand-pick items that would be perfect for them (saving them time and research based on your hard earned experience).
The problem arises when that product in question, sucks.
Case in point: Bluehost.
To their credit, they’re one of the least expensive hosting options available. They host over two million websites today. And there’s no coincidence that they also have an aggressive affiliate payout system, which rewards new referral purchases with $65 bucks.
Annually, they routinely pay out up to $5 million to people through their affiliate program.
Bluehost was sold to hosting conglomerate Endurance International Group (EIG) in 2010, who also owns many other popular brands including HostGator.
You’d think their performance would improve, being backed by additional resources and labor. However, the opposite is true.
If you filter through the glowing blogger endorsements you’ll find actual research, data, and experts weighing in. And the results from this attempt at slick marketing techniques ain’t pretty.
WP Site Care says they should be removed from the official WordPress recommended options due to consistently inconsistent performance. HostingFacts found that their page loading times (or speed) is almost twice as slow as the competition. And WPMU.org gave them a “Wooden Spoon” rating (for being one of the worst picks).
Think of web hosting like your foundation or infrastructure of a house. If it’s faulty, it almost doesn’t matter how many tips or tricks you try to improve performance. Your site will always struggle.
So… how should you assess a web host? What are the clues to look for to make sure you’re on the best possible platform to grow a business?
Here are the three big areas to analyze.
3 Easy Ways to Review a Web Hosting Company
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of web hosting companies available.
On the face of it, they all pretty much say the same things, make the same claims, and look exactly the same too.
So how do you pick one from another? Here are three places to start.
‘Uptime’ refers to the percentage of time your website is online and available.
‘Downtime’ then refers to the opposite; how often your site ‘goes down’ or offline and is unavailable.
Industry standard uptime should be at least around 99.90%. Which on the face of it, sounds great – right?!
Except when you run the numbers using an uptime calculator:
99.9% uptime is good, but it’s still almost nine hours of downtime a year. So just imagine how that downtime compounds over the course of a few weeks, months, or years when that percentage starts dipping a little bit below the acceptable 99.9% threshold.
Many companies will make bold claims on their website about their performance, even going so far as to state specific uptime percentages.
That’s why it’s critical to reference independent, online review sites that are based on actual data and usage (not just promotional claims on a hosting provider’s website). PCMag, for example, would be a good place to start.
Extra tip: Sites like Pingdom will help you monitor uptime and speed for your website, helping you determine exactly what your uptime is vs. what your hosting company boasts it might be.
What we experience as website speed when we plug in a new web address into our browser, is actually called page loading times. It refers to how long it takes for information to be sent from a server to your browser, each and every time you hit it.
And besides just affecting your experience, page loading times have also been proven to help (or hurt) SEO and conversions.
For example, half of your site traffic will leave if pages don’t load within three seconds. Only three!
If that number bumps up to five seconds, you’re looking at 74% – almost three-fourths! – leaving too.
Good web hosts should load in under 1000ms, so that pages come up almost instantly for visitors. But many of the cheapest hosting providers will struggle here, making you ‘share’ resources across many different websites (and having site performance brought down as a result).
There are a ton of technical improvements you can do to speed up a website. You should, in fact, do them! But they’re only as good as your web host, so start there first.
In addition to the aforementioned Pingdom, you can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to get a quick list of tips to improve site speed (in addition to upgrading your hosting).
3. Customer Service
After uptime and speed, customer service is the final key ingredient of a successful web host.
The reason? Based on the numbers we just reviewed, there will be times when your site is down or slow and problems or issues might pop up.
Customer service, specifically their response times and ability to get stuff done, can help you quickly deal with these problems (or can wind up just making them all worse).
Reading customer service reviews online can be problematic too, because you’re always going to find the one person who had a terrible experience out of potentially millions.
So how do you tell?
Give their live chat a test drive.
See how long it takes to connect. Pose questions about their plans or potential scenarios (like uptime and speed). That way you can easily judge how helpful they are, or if they’re just giving you straight definitions copied and pasted from their FAQ.
For example, Performance Marketer uses Site5 for web hosting (which is owned by the same EIG conglomerate as Bluehost) and recently had some major issues.
A few weeks ago they tried connecting with someone through the chat system to get these issues resolved, and it took over 45 minutes to chat with someone.
Imagine if your website was down during a big promotional push and you’re literally missing out for a hour’s worth of sales just waiting to connect.
The worst part though, was that after those 45 minutes it ended up being an automated robot that answered. So they couldn’t even help.
How to Avoid Web Hosting Problems Once and For All
Web Hosting is one of those classic business infrastructure issues that you gloss over at the beginning but can come back to bite you if you’re not careful.
There’s a ton of noise and no shortage of reviews online. But knowing how to sift through it all seems impossible.
You’ve got a business to run. Not a few extra hours each day to read every web hosting review site imaginable.
These types of issues are exactly why we are organizing The Internet Marketer Expo in May.
Our goal is to bring together business owners like yourself and give you hands on experience with software companies to help you understand how to work with their software before you get into long-term contracts.
There’s also still early bird pricing available at The Internet Marketer Expo, so you can get a 50% discount on the first 100 tickets. Don’t delay!