Now where did I host that site? You may have signed up for hosting on the fly when you purchased your domain. Or forgotten exactly who you hosted with. Or like most people your thoughts and fantasies during the day don’t usually encompass your hosting company.
Are you host aware? Some business owners and bloggers go through their digital lives without paying respects to the unseen force behind their precious online assets. Like electrical power, the temptation is to take it for granted. But with hosting, the lights may not always come back on when you flick the switch after an outage.
Web hosting matters this year because your security is getting more difficult. Hackers are getting better. It’s not just the weak members of the herd who fall prey to them. Ask Target if they look at security the same now as before their data breach.
Imagine the degree of security needed on a static HTML site in the late 1990’s when hacking seemed like a hobby. Capabilities have progressed quite a bit don’t you think? Now governments and organized groups penetrate servers with ease.
Here are some famous last words from the formerly host unaware:
“I’m just a small company and not a target for cyber attacks.”
“My domain registrar wouldn’t let that happen.”
“We’ve never had security problems before.”
“Well, I assume my site is being backed up. Why wouldn’t it be?”
The American Marketing Association defines “brand” as:
“Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
How do you think the tens of millions of Target card holders who had their private info compromised identify the Target card as distinct from competitors? I’m not saying that insecure hosting caused the breach. Hosting is one security factor that can ruin a brand’s day. Do you think those card holders care how it happened or simply that it was allowed to happen?
Let’s take it a step further and ask what would happen if next year at around the same time, Target card holders again had their card info stolen. A repeat of the same story reminds people of the first blunder. Target.com now becomes known as “that insecure site.”
Reputation matters because negative news spreads and lingers. A Target-scale data breach certainly should not happen more than once. The infamous healthcare.gov launch shows how potential customers will shy away from transacting when the word on the street is negative. Is your web host a repeat offender to the point that it affects your reputation?
Hosting can affect your website conversions. That’s right. Studies started showing correlations between load time and sales as far back as 2007 when one test demonstrated that each 100 ms increase in Amazon.com’s load time decreased sales by 1% (Kohavi and Longbotham). If server response time is not a priority for your host, then question why not. It matters because your host cost you money.
A few large companies have now gobbled up all the medium to large sized hosting brands. Can you think of an independently-owned big name host that remains? I can’t. Endurance International Group owns most of the old well-known shared hosting brands. What does this mean? Some folks don’t care if their once-revered brand has been taken over by a giant venture capital firm. For others, this is a red flag that matters. It often portends the friendly mom and pop service is being replaced by a less caring, profit-centered owner.
Site speed not only affects conversions, but even serves as a factor that Google may use to rank your site higher than your competitors. Page speed is only one of many algorithmic factors and affects “less than 1% of queries” says Google. As a Google search observer and critic, I can easily see the search giant turning up the dial to filter out slower sites that bounce the ever-impatient Internet user base.
If you’re paying for visitors to your site through AdWords or a CPA network, fast response times will help keep them around longer. You’ll have a better chance of getting them to take the desired action – purchase, subscribe, download, call, etc. Speed means a better user experience means improved conversions. The ability to control your host settings for speed makes hosting matter this year.
Running ads on your blog to help earn a little extra dough? Or are you among the web publishers making a killing on ads? Internet ad revenue may be as high as 40 billion this year.
Did you know that advertising services like Google AdSense will abruptly terminate your account and keep your earnings if they suspect you are violating their terms? In such cases you forfeit the balance of your revenue. This happens to innocent bloggers on hosts that allow clickbots to troll their servers. Hosting matters because preserving your ad revenue and advertiser relationships can depend on the strength of your host’s firewall.
So you own a slick-looking, fast and secure business website. If potential buyers of your of your product or consumers of your content sense that you are hosting with an unscrupulous host, this may filter into their decision to become a customer. They will never know, will they?
There are reverse ip tools out there that can spy out what other sites are hosted on your server. My favorite is this one. What if your site is hosted on the same server that hosts illegal, porn or hate content? There are hosts that strictly forbid and enforce rules against this (ClickHOST is one). The neighborhood your domain resides in matters.
If your thinking about the subject of web hosting during most of the day, there’s probably something wrong with you (or you are the owner of a hosting company). Give no thought at all to hosting and you may find yourself in worse shape. Hosting matters more than ever this year. Be host aware.