Having a Facebook page or a Twitter account isn’t enough, your small business NEEDS a website.
Social media can be great for keeping in touch with your customers, but a website provides the ultimate hub where customers, and potential customers, can find you on the internet.
You can display all of the most important information, from how to get in touch, to your business hours, or whatever you want. And you have complete control over your website. It’s still a good idea to have social media, and you’ll link to it from your site, but having a website is one of the best investment that any business can make, large or small. Even if it’s just a phone number, or an address, and some very basic info – it’s infinitely better than nothing.
If you’ve ever been quoted a high price for designing your site, don’t worry. No matter who you are, it’s actually something you can do all by yourself, you don’t need to hire anybody.
We’ve got a handful of hosting companies that make the whole process incredibly simple, it only takes a matter of minutes to get your account setup and to start working on your site. There are setup wizards, and tools that make it super easy to customize everything about your site.
Using pre-made themes and templates, you can make sure that your site looks incredible, functions perfectly, and if you do end up needing help along the way – all of these hosting plans comes with top-tier tech support that’ll have your back every step of the way.
Now, if you plan on doing a lot with your small business site, like posting frequent updates, or even running an online store where you can sell things, any one of the following options will work great for you. From small simple sites, to sprawling eCommerce empires, we’ve got you covered, so check out our recommendations.
What do you NEED from a small Business Hosting plan?
In our opinion, there are a few traits and features that every small business hosting plan needs to have in order to unlock the full benefits of having a site.
- It needs to be easy to update and manage, so that you can easily add new information to your site without having to hire someone to make edits.
- It needs to be affordable. Small businesses need to be careful about not spending money frivolously, so all of these options are budget-friendly.
- You need total control over your site, the ability to change hosts if you want, and to not be stuck relying on a platform like Squarespace, or Facebook, or anything else. Own your site!
- The support staff needs to be AMAZING. Eventually, you’ll run into some type of issue with your hosting, or you might need a little help getting something setup, and we want you to have 24/7 access to a team of support experts who can fix anything and help you out with anything you need, period!
- Not location Specific – Businesses are located around the World (UK, Australia, Europe, Canada, USA, etc). You want a host that is not tied down to your Location and serve everyone who is possibly looking at your business.
The following small business hosting companies fit the bill to a T. Each one of these is a great choice, so choose the one that suits your website’s unique needs the best. We’ll explain who should use each option, but if you’re really not sure, and you’re just starting out with making your very first website, we recommend going with our first option, the company we’re about to feature called Bluehost.
#1 Pick Overall for Small Business Hosting in 2018: Bluehost
This is the best option for most small businesses, but there are a few exceptions. If your site is really popular, gets a lot of visitors (or you expect it to), you might to keep reading becasue we’re also giong to feature some higher-end (and more expensive) hosting options. But generally speaking, if you’re just starting out, Bluehost will be your best bet.
Bluehost has a special dashboard and set of features on the backend that make it super-simple to get your site launched, you can have it all up and running 100% in the better part of an afternoon.
It only takes a few minutes to create your hosting account, and you can get WordPress to come automatically pre-installed, so all you’ve got to do is answer a few questions and then start adding content. WordPress makes it very easy to manage your site, and Bluehost makes it very easy to use WordPress.
We recommend building your business site using the WordPress platform, hosted with Bluehost, because WordPress is the industry standard that has opened the doors for regular people, with no web development experience, to create their own sites. Not only that, but it’s easy to keep WordPress up to date, and it’s even easier to edit your site, to update product formation, to change your hours, and whatever else you could possibly want to edit or update on your website.
There’s a reason the vast majority of new websites use WordPress. WordPress can be installed on just about any host, so regardless of which company you go with for your small business website needs, you should use WordPress as your CMS (content management system.)
Bluehost offers affordable pricing, but at a price range where they can still afford to pay for great quality servers, excellent support staff, and a high-tier infrastructure. Some hosting companies are so cheap that you really just can’t rely on them in the long-term, but Bluehost has been around for long enough that you know they’re not going to just up and disappear overnight, which is an unfortunate thing we see frequently with cheap hosts, once they realize they aren’t charging enough to make a profit or to even hire great support staff.
Many hosting companies are similar to one another in the grand scheme of things, and the major difference is when it comes to how good their support staff is.
Sometimes, you’ll find a hosting company that can help you with all of the basics, but they aren’t willing to help much when it comes to anything beyond their hardware.
For instance, if you run into an issue with WordPress, some of those lower-tier brands might just tell you that you need to hire a developer, because they don’t support software.
Bluehost isn’t one of those companies, Bluehost actually works super closely with the development of WordPress itself, as a contribution to the open-source community.
Whether you run into issues with your hardware, or with software like WordPress, Bluehost has hundreds upon hundreds of well-trained tech support experts who can help you get things running again, around the clock. If your site goes down in the middle of the night, you’ll have somebody helping you right away.
The fact of the matter is that if you have a website and hosting, you’re going to need some help and support eventually, but having a reliable hosting company like Bluehost definitely helps decrease the frequency. You don’t have to be familiar with servers, web hosting, management, or any technical stuff when you use Bluehost. From the moment you start to registration process, to a few minutes later when your site is setup and ready to go, they’ll really hold y our hand through the whole process.
Bluehost’s platform is designed for regular people who want to setup websites. They even have an option where you can tell them it’s a site for business, and their special WordPress configuration process will adjust the settings it shows you accordingly. They really couldn’t have made it any easier, so that’s why we strongly recommend Bluehost for so many different types of websites, experience levels, and businesses.
Bluehost’s business hosting is a great choice, but you don’t even need to get the business-tier account, you can use any of their hosting packages for a business site, and as soon as you outgrow it, it’s simple to upgrade.
A Review of Small Business Hosting Requirements
There are certain features and considerations that you’ll want from a hosting plan if its specifically for a business, that might not matter for a typical personal blog or website.
SSL is an important feature, which you can get with Bluehost and a variety of other hosts. With Bluehost’s Pro-level account, which starts around $14/mo, SSL is included and they’ll help you get it setup. SSL means your URL will display as “https://YourSite.com”, notice the extra S in https? That means your site is going to be more secure, and it’s absolutely crucial if you plan on selling things on your site, accepting payments, and even for basic communications with your customers.
Also included is domain privacy. In some cases, you might not be concerned about hiding the address and personal information of the person who registered the domain name, but if you’re concerned with business rivals and competitors snooping around, it’s not a bad idea to enable privacy, and with Bluehost’s Pro plan, it’s included in the monthly cost which is nice.
It also comes with Site Backup Pro, which helps drastically with the backup process so that if things do go south unexpectedly, you’re covered with a full backup of your site, and once again, Bluehost will help you through the whole process.
You also get hundreds of dollars in free marketing credits, which you can use to advertise your business on some of the leading advertising networks on the internet. This is just as valuable as cold hard cash, because you can setup very targeted advertising campaigns to bring potential customers from your city (or any city), right to your website. This gives you a huge head start, and is a massive value-add for you to take advantage of.
Unlimited email storage is another important feature, and all of Bluehost’s shared hosting plans include unlimited email, so that you don’t end up losing out on emails from customers if you forget to clear your inbox. Bluehost’s smallest plan includes 100mb of email storage, so we recommend doing with any of their plans above that, especially Pro, for unlimited storage.
For these reasons, we recommend going with at least the PLUS or PRIME plans from Bluehost, but ideally go with PRO.
What if Shared Hosting Isn’t Enough?
So far, we’ve been talking about shared hosting plans for your business.
For most sites, that will give you enough performance and resources to get by, but if your site is going to be getting a ton of visitors, you’ll want to consider upgrading to something more powerful.
The reason we recommend that most sites can get by on shared hosting is because if your site is mostly static, with some blog posts, some information about your business, the occasional update about promotions and sales, and it’s not getting flooded with visitors around the clock, you can save some cash by going with shared hosting.
However, if you’re running an e-commerce store, spending a lot of money on advertisements, and you have visitors on your site constantly, then upgrading to a VPS is a good idea.
What’s the Difference Between Shared Hosting, VPS, or Dedicated Servers for Business?
Shared hosting is the least expensive option, VPS is somewhere in the middle, and Dedicated Servers are the most expensive option. For the vast majority of new sites, shared hosting is the way to go.
If your entire business is based on the website itself (For example, if you run an online store as opposed to simply needing the website to display information about your business), then it’s not a bad idea to step up to a VPS instead of shared hosting, but even still, if your site is giong to have 5, 10, 20 visitors at a time, shared hosting should be plenty. It’s when you start getting into 50, 100, 200 visitors at any given moment that it’s time to think about upgrading.
Unless you pay a lot extra for a managed VPS, it also means you’re responsible for managing the server, keeping things up to, protecting the security of your site and of your customers, and a lot more.
For those reasons, shared is usually the best option since it’s fully managed, easy to upgrade as needed, and provides a great value for the typical business’ online presence. Once again, for high-demand websites, like if your entire business revolves around the site, consider either a high-tier shared plan like Bluehost’s PRO option, or taking the leap towards a VPS. Here are some of our favorite VPS options out there.
Other Recommended Business Hosting Options in 2018:
Bluehost is still our top pick for most small businesses, unless you need a VPS or a Dedicated Server, but Bluehost isn’t the only great shared hosting company out there that has numerous features for business clients, here are a few others that we’ve had very positive experiences with.
They’re all very easy to recommend, since they’re excellent companies to host your websites with, but if you’re looking for a slightly different flavor, here are some other hosts to check out…
SiteGround been around for a long time, and offer an excellent collection of products and services to choose from.
They always score pretty good on performance tests, their pricing is very fair and their plans are all very transparent, you know exactly what to expect and what you’re going to get in terms of server resources.
InMotion is a very underrated hosting company who deserve a lot more attention, they have excellent support staff, and have a very nice business hosting package with useful features like unlimited emails, unmetered resources, and the ability to host multiple websites per account.
Their business servers are priced very competitively, and come with SSD drives which can be up to 20x faster than standard spinning hard-drives. They, too, have a fairly easy setup process, although its not quite as streamlined as Bluehost offers.
Between all of the options mentioned on this page, you’re all set to go and find some hosting for your business. Pick any of these choices, you’re in good hands with any of them, so go with whichever suits you the best.
They’re all very helpful, have solid hardware, great staff who will help in so many different ways, and it won’t be much longer until you can sit back, look at your newly launched site, and take pride in what you’ve put together… and then, you can get back to work on your business, of course.
The less time that you have to spend on your site, the more time you can spend working on what you’re actually an expert at. Thanks to Bluehost and the other options on this list (With some help from WordPress, of course…) you can put up a site that’ll make it look like it was made by a pro.