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With thousands of options, web hosting seems like an easy decision.
Naturally, it’s not.
Deciding where to host your website is often a question of more than price.
Location is a significant concern as well, albeit one you might not have considered previously.
Website development and running an online business is complex.
However, before you get started on what in the world you’re hosting, it is probably best if you spend a few minutes to decide where in the world you’re hosting it.
It’s no secret that the lowest prices on servers usually belong to servers held overseas. If you want a low-price server solution, look overseas. Of course, there are some benefits by paying more for your server regardless of its location, but pricing is always a concern and for those trying to keep costs as low as possible, overseas may offer more bang for the buck.
Increasing there are legal concerns about where a server is contained and the website it is hosting. Russian companies, for example, might soon find themselves in a legal bind about protecting information and be forced to store server information in Russia. With every changing laws about internet use and information, do your research on what your own company requires before making any specific choices.
Customer Service Availability
The only way you can be on the same time table as your hosting company is to host your servers in what amounts to your backyard or in the same time zone. If you choose to host your website somewhere across the globe, be sure you are comfortable with their peak and non-peak customer service hours – especially if they aren’t offering 24-hour customer service in a staffed call center or the like.
Working in a different country means you may be trying to communicate in a language that is not your native tongue. For some this isn’t a problem as they find a common middle ground. For others, you may find yourself most comfortable working with someone who can not only speak a fluid version of your own native language, but send emails and messages easily as well.
It’s easy to put 24-hour customer support on a website, especially if you take a rather loose definition of support. The less expensive a company is, the more likely they are to outsource their customer service issues as well. If having an in-house customer service department is important to you, regardless of location, you may wind up paying a bit more. Research this well and get specifics – customer service isn’t always the same as a dedicated in-house customer service team.
The farther away your server is from your target audience, the greater you can expect the delay to be in loading websites. If you’re targeting customers in Canada, but hosting your websites in Asia, that’s a long way for information to ping back and forth around the globe. Will it work? Sure. Will it work quickly? That’s considerably less sure.
Again regardless of location be sure you’re getting what you think you’re paying for. The richer the content of a website, the more RAM, processing power and disc space you’re going to need. Certain materials may need a dedicated server will run you even more, but give you more control in return. Remember that distance will slow websites already, compromising on other limitations may hurt your site and your bottom line a great deal.
Every server company offers something to customers. When all is the same between two servers, check and see what special features and options they may be able to offer you. Larger companies who handle many different functions may be able to cross promote and offer additional incentives and features regardless of their country of origin. Others may be able to take advantage of looser regulations overseas in some countries to offer you even more features.
Your company hinges on its reputation. Your reputation can very well come from the quality and ability of your website and supporting services. Therefore your reputation may be directly tied to the reputation of the server company you choose to work with. If you are building a long-term, high-quality website that you hope has significant staying power in your industry, seek out server companies in your industry with a reputation to match your own, or what you hope to have someday.
Niche websites have their own communities and server companies may be part of these communities as well. Some server companies specialize in specific fields while others take a broader business model. If you are working in a specific niche, especially one that has legal limitations or regulations, finding a server company that already understands your specific needs for that website and that particular industry can be a huge relief. Often these specific companies are overseas where regulations may be a bit looser or at least easier to work with.
Finally, it’s important to realize that your server company is going to affect your rankings in websites like Google and Bing. A website hosted in China, for example, will not only load faster in China, but it will also be ranked higher in search results for those who are looking up keywords in China. Hosting your website on a server in China, but focusing on customers in the United States and Canada may mean that your website is considerably lower in the rankings or not ranked at all. It’s generally a good idea to host your website in a country where you expect a great deal of traffic to minimize this effect.
Web hosting is a competitive business, so companies who are surviving in the market are doing something right. Of course, the real rub is finding the match between what you need done and what the web hosting companies specialize in doing – no matter their global location.