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As a small or medium business (SMB) owner, you have a lot on your plate.  You do not have enough time to fully research each and every decision you have to make especially when it comes to those decisions that you believe do not directly affect your business.  Selecting the right website hosting provider can matter much more to your sales, marketing, and customer satisfaction much more than you probably originally thought.  We will discuss the top reason why picking the right website hosting provider matters to your business’s bottom line. 

Speed matters to search engines and customers

Google and Microsoft Bing are the two top search engines in the United States.  They both have a set of rules to follow so you can rank highly in their search engine results.  The process of trying to rank #1 in results is named search engine optimization (SEO).  When publishing your website and a customer retrieves the website from your website hosting provider, the time it takes to get to your customer’s computer or phone is a statistic that greatly affects SEO.  If your host is too slow, or they have too many other websites on their server it can slow down your business’s website to the point where Google and Bing will penalize you which drops your SEO rankings.   

Optimizing your website structure, minimizing plugins, compressing images, and ensuring your website has the ability to respond as fast as possible are key points you or your developer should be working towards with each and every website change you create.  If you have already purchased your website hosting on a contract, it is ok as there are ways to even speed up those slower hosts.  This isn’t the optimal route, however, you are able to use an IT consultant, like Secure Packet, to enable a content delivery network that will help you overcome some of the shortcomings of an inferior website hosting provider.  

Unbounce has a report showing that for every 100-millisecond delay, there is a drop in conversion rates by 7%.  That means that a full-second difference can decrease conversion rates by 70%!  This just goes to show how important speed and selecting the right website provider is as the internet has become extremely competitive for customers.  

Security of your site in 2022 is extremely important

Google and Bing both have to implement extreme penalties for websites that have not adopted SSLs to fully enable HTTPS over the prior stand of HTTP.  HTTPS enables a secure “secret” handshake between your website hosting provider’s servers and your customer’s computer or laptop.  Without this “secret” handshake, the data being transferred from the internet to your customer could be intercepted and even changed to reflect some type of phishing scheme.  These types of hacks to SMBs can have irreversible harm to the SMB’s brand and customer base.  Once you lose the trust of your clients and future clients, it becomes extremely hard to gain that trust back.  

Selecting a hosting provider that not only provides SSLs but paid SSLs for when your SMB grows is a must.  While you are exploring the options and features around the right-sized hosting plan for your company, pay attention to the path upwards for your company as you grow.  Moving your website and possibly other servers from one host to another is not impossible, but it does suck up a lot of time, resources, and man hours to move all of your data and ensure minimizing downtime.  It is not a direct comparison but thinking of when you are moving a family of 4 from one house to another is a great non-technical example of how much time, effort, and costs go into migrating.  It is best to select a hosting provider that has your current needs covered as well as your future needs as your business grows.  

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Business Insurance, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, and other compliances

As cyber security continues to become a hot topic for business insurance providers and all medium and enterprise businesses, these requirements have started to trickle down to smaller businesses over the past five years.  Once COVID-19 became a reality, the push to secure all SMBs by banks, credit card processors, and governments has become a priority as more and more workers are remote or hybrid which can open up SMBs to more attacks.  If your hosting provider is unable to help you with meeting all applicable compliances and regulations that your business faces, your online presence will come to a screeching halt due to these different institutions being unable to continue business with you.

A primary example of this is the requirement of two-factor authentication (2FA) or now known as multi-factor authentication (MFA).  Banks, credit card processors, and even best practices under HIPAA are all requiring the use of MFA.  All online services by big tech have enabled MFA for use with their services and starting to require the use of MFA.  SMBs have shied away from MFA due to cost, complexity, and user complaints, however, it has been proven to dramatically reduce the overall chances of data breaches and hackers obtaining access to your systems.    If your hosting provider is unable to help you face these challenges head-on, then you are with the wrong hosting provider.  These new technical hurdles will continue to grow and if you are unable to keep up, the hurdles will continue to pile up until you are unable to operate your business.  

What should I do if I am unsure how to move forward?

As most SMBs are not tech-related and have smaller IT staffs than enterprises, the best choice you have is to look for IT consulting firms that can review, plan, and provide the services that your business requires.  Secure Packet, for example, has the ability to provide IT consulting within our Advanced Services arm along with hosting services in our Simplified Hosting arm.  Utilizing an IT consultant will at the bare minimum provide you with a roadmap on how IT can help your operations while staying compliant with your credit card processors, banks, insurance providers, and any other compliances and regulations you might be facing along with ensuring your IT is set up in a way to help acquire and retain customers and not the other way around.