web servers in a room. what is web hosting

What is Web Hosting?

(And how do I know I picked the right one?)

Have you ever had a tech question that’s so basic, you’re afraid to ask because you don’t want to look uneducated?

After talking with lots of business clients over the years, I can tell you that you are not alone.

We’ve seen the eyes of our clients glaze over, more than once, when we get to talking about web hosting.

And that makes sense.  If you are not regularly working in this industry, why in the world would you know about this techie stuff?

We’re going to cover the basic definitions and services offered by web hosting companies.  Then talk about how to select the right host for your business.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Web Hosting Exactly?
  2. Services Offered By Web Hosts
  3. How to Pick The Right Host For You
  4. Conclusion

What is Web Hosting Exactly?

Web hosting is the service that puts your website on the Internet.

A web hosting company (aka “web host”), that offers the service, has a bunch of computers, called servers, sitting in a building.  That building is protected from fire, water and power outages so their client websites stay online without interruption.

Your website files are stored on one of those servers.  The servers are connected to the Internet so your website visitors can access it 24/7.

Some examples of web hosts are GoDaddy, Amazon Web Services, Siteground and Bluehost.

That’s web hosting in a nutshell.


Services Offered By Web Hosts

In the beginning, web hosts were simply putting websites on the Internet.  But with a growing customer base they started offering other services in no time.

Here’s a brief rundown.

Domain Name: Your domain name is your website name.  Ebay.com is a domain/website name.  If you want to buy a domain name, you will do that through a web host.

Hosting: See above.

Email Accounts: Want professional email addresses that match your website?  Your web host will offer that as well.  Some web hosts charge, some give them away for free.

Here’s where things can get confusing.

You don’t have to get all services from one place.  You can have your domain name with one host, your website (hosting) with another host and your email accounts with a third host.

But why would you do that to yourself?

Keep it simple and try to keep your domain, website and email with one company.


How to Pick The Right Web Host For You

Picking the right web host is important, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Tip #1: Try to keep your web design agency and web host provider separate.

Tip #2: Make sure you have full ownership over the hosting account.

This allows you the freedom to work with the web design agency of your choosing because you control the hosting account.

Here are the most important factors when it comes to hosting a local business website.

1) WordPress Compatibility

Most local business are using WordPress.org for their website framework.  While any web host worth its salt offers WordPress services, you want to make sure it’s one of their core services and not something they just added on.

2) Security

I know what you’re thinking…“Who would want to hack my little old website?”

Lots of people would.  Basement dwellers around the world are running programs 24/7 trying to break into websites for lots of reasons.

So a host that offers WordPress-specific security and rolling 30-day daily backups is a must.

3) Customer Service

If something goes wrong,  you’ll want to get help fast.  We’ve worked with some hosts where it can take hours and sometimes days to get a response.  A quality host should have 24/7 chat support that connects with you in a matter of minutes.

4) User Experience

When you log into your host account, you’ll want to be easy to use.  We’ve logged into hosting accounts just to find a layout from 1995.

Note: Old layouts and poor customer service seem to go hand-in-hand.

5) Cost

Cost is last on the list because you typically get what you pay for (items 1-4).  From our experience the cheapest is a nightmare and the most costly is probably bloated.  Middle of the road pricing is typically best for most local businesses.

Want to know everything there is to know about website costs? 

Read the complete guide: How Much Does a Website Cost?


Picking Your Web Host

Let’s keep this simple.  Pick a web host that meets your needs right now.

The host we use for our website, and we recommend to our clients, is Siteground.

By the way, we’re not getting paid to say this.

We like Siteground because they hit all the items above and they meet the needs of most local businesses.  They are also one of only three web hosts recommended by WordPress.org.

If you are a local business that expects lots of traffic, over 25,000 visitors a month, you may be better off with a higher investment with a host like WPEngine.



The great thing about picking a web host, is that you can always change providers if needed.  You own the website files so you are in control.  So there’s no need to get overwhelmed by the decision.

What Do You Think?

Like what you read?  Did we miss something?  Leave a comment or question below.