There used to be a saying that speed kills. But, in the world of eCommerce, speed is everything. Slow page loads and sluggish performance will result in high bounce rates and loss of business. It will also lower your ranking in the all-important search engine results pages (SERPs).
Is your website performing as well as it could?
Two of the main selling points of many hosting services are speed and uptime, and they’re connected in several key ways. Downtime is measured as the percentage of time that your website is unavailable or not functioning properly. In this context, every second matters. Check out this comprehensive report by Aussie Hosting, comparing cheap hosting providers based on pricing and speed.
With an uptime of 99.999 percent, which is known in the hosting business as 5-9s, your website will experience about nine minutes of unplanned downtime per year. If your hosting services promises 99.8 percent of uptime, that number jumps to a staggering 18 hours that you’re out of commission. Statistically, each hour of downtime costs businesses an average of $100,000.
Is that a figure your company can afford? Most can’t.
What Causes Downtime?
Every website and hosting platform is going to have a certain amount of downtime due to maintenance. The idea is to make sure that any downtime is planned and that your traffic has advanced notice.
What causes downtime, and is there any way to mitigate it if your web host is in control?
Even if your hosting company offers 5-9s, there are other factors that contribute to downtime. Among the most common are:
- Having too many plugins and widgets installed
- An abundance of large images, animations, or video
- Embedded media from external sources
- Unsuitable or outdated apps and browsers
- Slow internet speeds
- Third-party ads
Viruses, malware, and spyware also affect load time and lead to sluggish performance, in addition to the other potential dangers they pose.
You can increase your website’s speed with a simple overhaul, including things like minifying code, reducing image file sizes, and enabling caching.
However, your host still matters.
How You Can Make Sure That Your Hosting Company is up to Speed?
Even if you’ve done everything you can on your part to improve your website performance, choosing the best hosting service for your type of website and expected traffic still matters.
What should you look for in a hosting platform?
Choosing a hosting service is probably the most important decision you’ll make as a website owner next to design. There are literally hundreds of options on the market, and more are jumping into the hosting game as resellers. The first thing you should do is read reviews from an unbiased source that includes both experts and real customers.
Next, you should look for a service that’s reasonably priced and offer value for service. If they do make guarantees, they should be stated in writing as part of your service level agreement (SLA).
Other things to consider in a web hosting platform?
How well do you know your hosts? Can you make due with shared hosting or would your traffic and type of website support a dedicated host?
What type of website are you building? A small blog or static portfolio used fewer resources than a growing business or large enterprise website.
Do you understand the amount and type of resources you’ll need? Many people make the mistake of trying to get the most features for the lowest price. That doesn’t do much for you if you have a bunch of features you don’t need and never use. It’s like having a closet full of clothes with the tags still on them. Choose the hosts that meets your needs, such as higher bandwidth and security if you’re a web developer or unlimited email accounts and domains if you have a marketing business.
Do you understand your host’s pricing structure? It’s tempting to go for free or cheap hosting, but sometimes “free” comes with a hidden cost or two. For one thing, security may be lax, if there’s any at all. One breach can completely wipe out a small business.
You may not have responsive support when you choose free hosting. Such services cost the provider money, so they’ll pass the cost on to you in some way, possibly by selling your data to a third party. There may also be caps on storage and bandwidth,, or they may throttle your website if you exceed certain levels of resource use Throttling is a deliberate slow down, which brings us back to speed and performance.
You should be aware of when your website is down or performing badly. Two of the first signs are the time to first byte (TTFB) and the distribution of web components. The TTFB metric is determined as the amount of time between the initial browser request and response. Even taking internet speed into consideration, it should be no longer than 0.5 seconds. This also affects the page load time, which is reflected in the distribution of web components. Non-cached websites can mask this issue, but it will really show itself in latency when using a website with caching enabled.
Both of these metrics can be unmask with a speed test.
To make sure that your web host is living up to its promises, there are a variety of performance testing tools available on the internet, and many of them are free to use. They’ll not only check your website speed, but determine if you have other performance issues.
As part of their webmaster tools, Google offers PageSpeed Insights. This tool will measure your page speed on a scale of 0 – 100; any score below 90 is going to hurt your page ranking. The tool also evaluates performance issues and offer suggestions for improvement.
Poor performance and latency are enough to drive your traffic away. However, you can recover from these issues if you find and correct them in time. You can even turn an error to your advantage if you know how to do it right.
Consumers are forgiving to a point. If your performance problems are rare, affect only a tiny portion of your traffic, and are resolved quickly, you may be able to recover. However, it’s best not to take chances by choosing a reliable host and taking steps to monitor and correct your own performance issues.