By Michael Auger
Small business owners today typically have to wade through a bevy of service providers when it comes to their online presence. There is more noise in the marketplace and more options than even five years ago, but the guiding principles of common sense and value are timeless. Here are some useful tips to help you evaluate online services providers, specifically for web hosting.
There are two basic types of hosting providers, with a multitude of niche providers in each. The first type is value, or budget based hosting providers. These are the big names that you have most likely seen advertised on TV and billboards. These companies provide a wide variety of web based services for very low prices. This type of provider is ideal for a business owner that will not need a lot of one-on-one customer service, or help with their hosting account. Budget based hosting providers also tend to try to be a one stop shop for anything related to the Internet, from hosting a website to search engine optimization services. Common sense should prevail here, because you get what you pay for. This includes access to a variety of services for low monthly costs. However, consultation information on your specific type of business and how to do much of anything besides logging into your account area, will be hard to come by. For some businesses, this will not be a problem if they already have a good knowledge of the online world, or an IT person on staff.
The other type of hosting provider is a smaller, more specialized company that provides a specific type of hosting, generally at a higher price point than the larger, budget based companies. Niche hosting companies will not have as broad of an offering as the larger value hosting companies, but there is generally a deeper level of customer service with these providers. Depending on the industry you are in, you can usually find a specialized hosting company specific to your business needs. Some of the vertical practices within the hosting industry include ecommerce, healthcare, legal, and international hosting companies.
For the small business owner that is a one-person shop, a smaller hosting company may be the best fit. However, when deciding on a service provider you must assess the needs of your business, as well as your own strengths.