Does Your Web Host Suck?
Last time, we covered off on a few interesting bits and pieces around making sure your website's fast, and that was all from a coding perspective. Today we're going to talk about how to make your website fast in ways that you can't control.
What's the Difference in Hosting Providers?
Your web hosting provider offers the technology to have your website go as quickly as possible. If you think about the code on your website as Michael Schumacher, he's a quick driver. He knows exactly what he's doing, but if he's chucked in a Getz, he's not going to be going that fast. He's going to be going at the speed that he can go, and he'd be very good at what he does, but he's not going to be going that fast. If he's chucked in a Model T Ford, he's still going to be the best Model T Ford driver out there, but he's going to be better off driving a Formula One car, isn't he?
You Need a Decent Hosting Site
Given that example, if your web hosting provider isn't giving you great hardware to sit on, your website is going to be loading slowly. That's something that is within your control by changing your web host, but you should be making sure that you've gone with someone who's offering decent speed. Make sure the server's local to where your audience is. So, if you're operating an Australian business in the Australian border and you need to have that business servicing only Australian customers, have the server in Australia.
Avoid the Cheap Ones
There are lots of cheap hosts out there. There are hosts that go as cheap as a dollar a month, and there are hosts that go as expensive as $700 a month, and they are primarily offering the same set of tools. The difference is, one's a Model T Ford and one's a Lamborghini. You want to make sure that you're choosing the one that you want to be supporting your business.
If you have a "my dog" type of website, where you jump on it and it has a few different pictures of your dog and you send that to you and Nana and your mum every so often, that's great. Go on the dollar hosting. You could probably even find free hosting.
But, if you have a website where you bring customers to you, and you want to have a good online presence and you want things to load quickly, go for something that's a business grade plan. You don't want a "my dog" plan. You're going to end up with low-quality results.
Host in the Same Country Your Business Is In
If you're paying for Adwords and your website's loading slowly, you're going to have more expensive Adwords and a bigger bounce rate, so the customers that come to your site are going to bounce off quicker because the website is loading slowly.
If your website is on a server that's hosted overseas, your Google position, when people search for you, will be further down for the people that are within Australia. So, your audience will be catered with a preference to wherever your server is. So if your server is in India and your customers are in Australia, and your customers search for your business, the people in India, when they search for your business, will be able to find you more easily than the people in Australia. It's also supporting an Australian business, so it's much better to keep your servers within Australia.
Make sure that you're asking the questions when you're getting a plan. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If they're giving you unlimited data, unlimited space, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited email accounts, unlimited everything, then there's going to be a limit that they're not talking about, and that's going to be a limit in the speed that your site's loading. It could also mean a limit in the amount of requests that your site might be able to have before they cap your speeds.
There's always a balance for hosting sites to continue to make money. People that charge $20 to $30 a month for hosting and people that charge a dollar a month for hosting, they're both still making money. The people that are charging $30 a month are not making 30 times the amount of money. They're using better equipment, they're using corporate grade stuff that's going to allow for your website to load faster.
How to Test Website Loading Speed
Now, it can be hard to test hosting speed, especially as a business owner. There are a few different tools out there that you can use. One of them is yougetsignal.com. They've got a tool here called Reverse IP Lookup, which lets you see what the IP address is, where your server is, and that lets you see how many people are on that same server, so that can get you an idea of how your resources are being divided on that server. That can obviously give you some insights into how fast your site can load. One of the other ones is loadimpact.com. You go to loadimpact.com and you put your website there. It'll show you how fast your site is going to load when there are more and more people accessing it at the same time, and you need to make sure you have an optimised, fast site when you do this.
Otherwise, it's just going to compound the problem of a slow site loading slower, but it'll still be an impact that will give you insight into how your site is loading and performing on that machine.
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