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Shared Hosting – Is it Right for You?

     -     Mar 16th, 2018   -     Search Engine Optimization   -     0 Comments

A website’s host platform is something most marketers don’t spend much time thinking about. If their firm’s website is loading properly and there are no downtime issues, most are happy. However, when an issue arises with the site such as slow load time, problems with mobile rendering or the site has been a victim of a malicious attack, the host suddenly becomes very important. It’s during these situations when most marketers turn to their hosting company to provide the needed guidance and support to help resolve issues. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when many learn about the quality and level of service offered or lack thereof. (A hint – in most cases it’s not as good as expected). This often leaves them with more questions than answers and the need to get their IT department and website coder involved to manage the problem. The good news is that if your firm uses a shared hosting package you can learn about the benefits and drawbacks before problems emerge.

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is when a single physical web server and the related resources are shared between several users or websites. Every site on the shared hosting platform is allocated a certain amount of disk space, bandwidth, databases, email accounts, FTP accounts and other essentials needed to manage a website.

Shared Hosting Advantages

  • Cost – Typically the cost of a shared hosting package is significantly cheaper than other account types such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) or dedicated hosting. In fact, the entry price for a shared hosting account often ranges between $5-$10 per month and a firm can get their website up and running in short order. Since there is an abundance of providers in the marketplace, the cost for shared hosting accounts continues to stay quite low.
  • Control – While server resources are shared amongst many websites there is still a great deal of customization and control that can be maintained. Through a program called CPANEL, your webmaster can administer the website database, create and manage FTP accounts and even implement website backups (depending on the specific features offered by your provider). CPANEL also allows you to review website traffic statistics, review server logs and make other significant changes.
  • Resources – Depending on the size and needs of your website a shared hosting account can offer the right amount of resources needed for site operations. Disk space and bandwidth allocation offered through shared hosting packages are often enough to meet the needs of smaller accounting firm websites. One challenge we have seen is that most IT professionals and marketers really don’t have a solid understanding of their needs so, they end up purchasing a hosting package that is not adequate to meet their requirements or one that offers resources far beyond what they would ever need in the next several years.

Shared Hosting Disadvantages

  • Security – This is likely the biggest disadvantage to a shared hosting account. In the last 12 months, two of our clients have been victimized by website attacks. Both were using a very basic shared hosting account with limited support. When you share a web server with other websites it’s important to understand that a vulnerability on any of the other websites on the same server can leave your site exposed. This is the case even if you have taken appropriate security protections. The situation can become worse if your website is blacklisted due to the reckless behavior of other websites that share the same server as your firm.
  • Performance – When sharing the same web server there is the possibility that performance will suffer. Let’s assume your site and several others on the server experience a sharp increase in traffic because of popular content posted. There are only so many resources to go around and if several of the sites on the server is consuming resources it means that your site’s performance will suffer. This is an essential consideration to make because as a site grows (in the total amount of content and in traffic) it will naturally consume more resources.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – There are important SEO consequences that need to be considered. First, if another site on the server gets blacklisted it will have a negative impact on your website. Second, if another site on the server is selling pornographic or related inappropriate products it will have a negative impact on your site. Third, if resource usage becomes a problem and your page load time drops Google will see this as an issue as well. Unfortunately, we have never worked with a hosting company that will reveal what other websites are on your shared server which makes it very difficult to really know how other sites on the server will impact your website.

Contact Us

The advantages and disadvantages of shared hosting have been well documented in the web development community, but less information is available in accounting marketing circles. It’s important to regularly review your website performance to determine if a hosting package change needs to be made. If you have questions about shared hosting or need assistance with SEO, FlashPoint Marketing can help. Please note that we don’t recommend website hosting companies in particular but can offer general advice to assist when making a new decision.

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