How to Host a Website: A Guide for Beginners
Hosting a website isn’t nearly as headache inducing as people are led to believe. It doesn’t involve advanced technical knowledge or coding acumen, it just requires the ability to sign up for a hosting service and use a website building tool (many of which are free).
Building a website may seem daunting for a beginner, but it can be made in less than 30 minutes. And that’s with having zero technical knowledge!
Although it’s fairly straightforward, there are challenges presented when it comes to finding the right hosting provider. It’s true that there are many attractive hosting options to choose from, but it’s paramount that new website owners understand the benefits of weighing speed, security, backup capabilities, server space, and customer service when choosing a provider.
It’s all about having the right approach, which is why we’re here today. This is a beginner-proof guide for how you can easily host a new website in 2023 and beyond.
Why You Need Web Hosting
A website is a living, breathing entity that must reside somewhere. A hosting service provider allows you to park the site in a location known as a web server. Every website on the internet is hosted, that’s the only way their content can be made visible to people.
Web servers are like a digital storage space for your website’s files, which are made available to the world when loaded up on the computer.
When someone types in your URL address into their browser, your server sends them the requested page.
What Do You Need to Host a Website
It starts with a domain name, and these are usually very cheap. A brand new domain must be purchased through a domain registrar such as Cloudflare or Google Domains and start at just a few dollars per year, unless you opt to buy one from a previous owner (these can cost $1,000s).
For 99% of new site owners, a new domain is the way to go.
A domain name is the user’s way to find your website, while in technical jargon it’s a request made to your web server to connect to your site’s information.
Once you’ve purchased a domain, it’s time to connect it to your web hosting services provider. These services can vary in price depending on several factors, such as:
- Bandwidth: Hosting providers will have different options depending on the volume of media and other highly intensive resources on your website. There is no correct answer as to what bandwidth level you should get, it all depends on your type of website. A small local plumber may require a lot fewer web files than a national ecommerce store that’s full of videos showcasing products.
- Page speed optimization: Some hosting services drop the ball when it comes to page speed, and it’s such a shame. Page speed is one of the most important components of a website’s functionality and can have a direct impact on search rankings in Google. Check the reviews before committing to a hosting service to make sure that page speed is a priority.
- Type of hosting: There are multiple hosting types that can suit different purposes for the website owner. These include shared hosting, managed hosting, and dedicated hosting (more on these soon).
- Uptime: This is an indication of the amount of time your website is live and available. Obviously, the more time the better. In fact, it should really be available 24/7/365 or there’s a serious problem. Most reputable hosting providers will guarantee uptime over 99% of the time. If you own a small business website, it’s critical that your site remains available to customers around the clock. Every minute the site goes down means potential sales are wiped away.
Once you’ve purchased a web hosting service provider, the setup process often involves connecting your domain through updating your domains nameservers in the DNS records and setting up a control panel such as Direct Admin or cPanel on the backend.
Although this connection process is fairly straightforward, it’s important to recognize the security ramifications involved with setting a new domain live. Not only is it critical that site owners understand the safety and security measures they need to put in place for their new website, but they need to be able to maintain the site as security needs evolve and change.
This is why it’s essential for new website owners to consult with a team of experienced hosting experts who know exactly what it takes to keep sites running safely and efficiently.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Web Hosting
Before you commit to a particular web hosting provider, there are some questions you need to ask yourself.
What Type of Website Am I Building?
The size of your site matters as does the purpose. If you are a small business who doesn’t expect to get much traffic, your hosting needs are pretty simple. You just need something that’s functional and gives your brand a digital face.
On the other hand, a website that plans to grow nationally or internationally will require more particulars as far bandwidth, page building options, and adaptability.
Do I Need Email Hosting?
Email hosting comes with a lot of normal website hosting plans, but you should check before signing up.
The primary advantage of email hosting is professionalism. An email address with your brand name exudes a higher level of authority in front of customers and shows the world that you’re a legitimate business.
Email hosting plans also allow for easy expansion. As your team builds you can create more email addresses and keep your business more organized. You can also ensure a higher level of security for messages coming through your inbox.
How Much Data Will I Be Storing and Serving?
Bandwidth comes down to page size and number of visitors. A typical page size of 50KB will allow for 20,000 monthly website visitors, which is more than enough when starting out.
Keep in mind you can always increase your storage space at a later point by upgrading your hosting plan.
The vast majority of websites use less than 5 GB of bandwidth per month, so there’s really no reason to overpay unless you expect to get hordes of traffic from the start.
How Much Traffic Do I Expect?
Traffic is hard to predict, but it starts with keyword research. Based on the expected monthly search volume of the keywords you are optimizing for, you can make educated estimates for potential traffic totals to your site.
Keyword research is a critical first step when planning your website. You can determine which keywords your competitors are ranking and how you can go about optimizing them on your site.
What is My Hosting Budget?
Hosting services can vary dramatically in price, some costing just $3.99 per month while others cost up to $99 or more per month.
For most new website owners, and those who don’t expect to get much traffic to their sites, a shared hosting plan is the way to go. These allow you to share server storage across other websites which means there’s a lower price point.
How Technically Proficient Am I?
Today’s hosting providers cater to not-so-tech savvy people. If you’re new to website building, most hosting services will work for you. On the flip side, if you’re more tech savvy you might want to consider a more customizable plan.
Types of Website Hosting
Are you still struggling to determine the most efficient website hosting for you? Let’s break down the most common hosting options.
Managed WordPress Hosting
WordPress is the most popular platform to publish a website on in the world. It is an easy content management system (CMS) for beginners to learn on, and there are thousands of easy to integrate plugins to allow for nearly endless customization.
Managed WordPress hosting is a hosting service that applies specifically to WordPress. This is ideal for new site owners since all the backend management is off your plate. The managed hosting team handles everything from backups to site updates, even making performance tweaks and improvements along the way.
Price points are slightly higher, but the clear advantage is peace of mind. If you want all of the tedious day-to-day technical stuff off your plate, a managed WordPress hosting solution is the answer.
For larger businesses, especially enterprise companies who demand heightened cybersecurity measures, cloud hosting is the way to go.
With cloud hosting, there are no physical servers in use. All information is stored and managed across a network of cloud resources ensuring better safety and flexibility. Organizations can have greater autonomy over accessibility and permissions, including the ability to be reached via mobile apps.
You should consider cloud hosting if you are a large organization, or you work with sensitive data. Prices can vary depending on storage space needed across cloud-based servers, but there should be a cloud hosting plan that fits within your budget.
Shared Server Hosting
Shared hosting is the perfect option for those just starting out, especially if you’re launching a small website or blog for the first time. This is very cost-effective since you are permitting multiple websites to share the same servers.
Although shared hosting isn’t usually a great idea for larger brands, it’s a good way to get started if you are a new brand and it’s your first website.
Prices for shared hosting plans can run less than $10 per month, making this the most affordable option for most.
Dedicated Server Hosting
On the opposite end from shared server hosting, dedicated server hosting lets your site utilize the entire server. This gives site owners a whole new level of customization options since they literally own the server.
Dedicated servers provide advanced features for server management as well as the ability for the user to install their own software. These servers are ideal for large sites that experience consistently high traffic volume.
This is probably going to be overkill for most people starting out. Dedicated hosting packages can cost over $90 per month.
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a server that operates within a shared physical server environment but provides users with their own dedicated virtual machine that operates independently of other users on the same physical server. This provides VPS users with much greater flexibility, control, and security than shared hosting, but at a lower cost than renting a dedicated physical server.
With a VPS, users have full root access to their virtual server, allowing them to install and run any software they choose and configure the server settings to their specific needs. Additionally, because each VPS is isolated from other users on the physical server, any performance issues incurred by other users have no impact on your website’s performance. This makes VPS hosting an ideal choice for businesses or individuals with high traffic websites who require greater flexibility, customization, and control than shared hosting can provide.
Tips for Finding the Best Web Hosting Service
Web hosting services are plentiful, so it’s important to know what you should be looking for from the start.
Performance is the #1 metric for a good web host. Do they guarantee a high uptime? Do they help your website load fast? Can they handle surges in traffic?
Reliable performance directly correlates to higher search rankings and a better user experience. Always read reviews before selecting a hosting service to ensure that performance is positive across the board.
Keeping your website files safe is critical for any business, but especially when you have team members logging in to your dashboard from different parts of the world.
Ensure that your website is safe from hackers and phishing attempts, while also keeping your team safe.
There are many additional features offered by hosting services like 24/7 chat support, daily website backups, and integrations with top website building software.
It varies on a site-by-site basis but make sure that your proposed hosting service checks the right boxes for your business.
User experience (UX) is on equal footing with performance as mentioned above. A good UX means your customers are satisfied and wanting to return for more engagement with your brand.
UX bleeds into several key areas ranging from web design to page speed. A good hosting service will help you solve problems that could be getting in the way of your users’ journey through your website.
Most new website owners don’t have a clear blueprint for growth, which is understandable. That’s why you want to pick a hosting option that will grow with your business.
As your site creates more content and accrues more page traffic, you will need to be able to scale up to accommodate the volume increase. This could mean switching from shared hosting to a dedicated hosting service or upgrading for more resource bandwidth.
Website Hosting Made Easier
Launching a brand-new website is simple when you have the right hosting service in place. The problem many people run into is the classic ‘information overload.’
If you take the time to identify your most pressing needs, i.e., usability, user experience, uptime, and customer support, you’ll find the search to be a lot easier than expected.
Not all hosting providers are created equally, which is why it’s especially important to separate fact from fiction and understand what you’re getting from a hosting package.
When it comes to comprehensive WordPress management solutions, life can be made a lot easier if you talk to a team of proven experts. At Blue Laser Digital, we understand what it takes to build and manage a high-performing WordPress site.
Not only do we ensure a better uptime, but you will have access to customer service when you need it most.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the basic steps for hosting a website?
Hosting a website basically involves two steps: a) purchasing a domain name, and b) purchasing a hosting service. From there, the hosting provider will lay out step-by-step instructions for getting your new website live. This can typically be done in under 30 minutes.
How much does it cost to host a website?
Web hosting costs anywhere from a few dollars to $99 or more per month. The most influential factors concerning price are type of hosting (is it a dedicated host or a shared host), number of features and customizations available, and security measures.
What is a CMS and what does it do?
CMS is short for content management system. This is the backend hub where all your website files and content is stored, and it can be accessed by users who have obtained the right login credentials. WordPress is the advisable CMS for first time website owners thanks to its ample usability and customization options.
What is a site migration, and can I do it myself?
A site migration refers to a move onto new servers or a new hosting plan.
While it’s possible to do a site migration yourself, these can be tedious and stressful especially if you run a large website. It’s best to hand over the reins to professional web developers and SEO specialists who can run through checklists and make sure your website doesn’t lose ranking.