Your website hosting service choice is crucial: it’s the foundation of your website success. A web host delivers your web site to the world. In case you make a bad choice, you risk getting into trouble:
- Uptime: Apart from obvious damage to your website performance, frequent crashes often negatively affect SEO. Google won’t rank your website high if it is often unavailable or down (see tip #2 in the list of the ways of increasing Google crawl rate);
- Security: Improperly managed web hosts are often attacked by hackers, so your website will often have troubles being labeled as one “that may harm your computer” (which also dramatically decreases the click through as well as damages your web resource reputation).
Now, there are plenty of web hosting services available and here’s a basic checklist I often turn to when choosing one for myself or my client:
- My project budget (how much money am I able to spend on web hosting?);
- Service reputation (I perform a few Google searches to check what people say about the service provider);
- Basic features (no more than I need for the future project, some extra features I will never need won’t encourage me to choose one particular service provider);
- (Very important) 24/7 customer support (I usually contact them prior to subscribing with a few basic (stupid?) questions to see how responsive and helpful they are).
To decide whether one particular service provider is compliant to my very basic requirement listed above, I usually turn to customer reviews. To properly search for “real” customer testimonials, I usually use the following tricks:
1. Google “Reviews”, “Forums” and Date Search
Before Google introduced side search help, I had used inurl:forums or intitle:review (and the like) search operators in combination with date range search within advanced search to find what people say about the service. But now it is even easier:
2. Hosting Comparing Services
There are a few helpful services that let you compare various services and packages as well as look through user reviews. WebHostingGeeks.com is one of those: it compares web hosting services in multiple categories (free web hosting, dedicated server hosting, vps hosting … etc) in a handy table containing:
- Web hosting provider;
- Basic features (space, traffic, price);
- Bonus features;
- Reviews rating.
If you click the link in the last column, you will be taken to the whole list of independent reviews about the chosen hosting provider and package:
3. Twitter Search
One cool hack that I often use to find negative reviews on Twitter is :( search. Just add it to the search query and you will have the list of dissatisfied customers tweeting about their poor experience:
And how do you decide if the hosting provider is worth a try?