You hear a lot online about how to choose a bankable domain name and how to create quality content. While those things are crucial to building an Internet website presence, they're not the most important. If you don't have a reliable web host, the building blocks of success you've worked so hard to put into place are going to come crashing down.
Your success is entirely dependent on your website being online all the time. Pick an unreliable or shady web host and your website is done for. Give your website a leg up over the competition by choosing first to focus on finding a good web host, and then worrying about your duties as webmaster.
Read web hosting reviews
There is nothing more powerful than learning from another's experience. Pencil in some time to read web hosting reviews, written both by professionals and clients.
Run a background check
Thanks to the Internet, it's easy to do a little investigating on your own, too. Fire up your web browser and play spy for a day.
IceRocket: Type in the name of the web hosting company you're considering and let IceRocket scour the web for you. In an instant, you'll hear what others have to say on Twitter, blogs, news venues and today’s most popular social networking sites.
Search engines: Use Google to see who’s talking about the web host and why. Run similar searches in Yahoo, Bing and AltaVista. Have plenty of time to spare? Set up a Google Alert and you’ll be notified when a new link about the web host is posted online.
Does the host you’re interested in have a company forum? If so, become a regular reader for a few days. Find out if current customers are happy with service and see firsthand how each web host deals with customer service issues.
Check online forums across the Internet for mentions of the host with Board Tracker.
Go over the web host’s website thoroughly, learning what sorts of services are offered with a paid hosting plan and which you’ll need to pay extra for. This will give you a better idea of what the actual cost for a web hosting plan will be each month, not the advertised special they’re promoting on the front page.
Put support to the test
Find out how the web host offers support to customers and test it out. Call, email or submit a trouble ticket to the host and sit back and see how long they take to respond to your inquiry and whether or not they answer the questions to your satisfaction. If the response seems canned or doesn’t address your questions at all, you may be dealing with a web host who only offers automated support. Will you be happy with that?
The most important step to getting your dream website online is to secure a solid, dependable web host. Take your time and choose a web host who will take you to the top.