Tips for effective website hosting and maintenance for small business clientsBy Lawrence Dy
If you sell website services, like web design and domain registration, then website hosting and maintenance is a perfect addition to your portfolio of solutions. It lets you turn one-time web design clients into sticky, long-term site maintenance clients, improving client retention and lifetime value.
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However, if you’re going to get into the web hosting and maintenance services game, it’s important that you do it right: hosting has a major impact on site performance, which in turn impacts conversion rates. The tips covered in this article will help you offer your clients world-class website hosting and maintenance, so you can deliver meaningful value and establish yourself as the best site maintenance provider in your niche.
Best practices for website hosting
Following these website hosting best practices will ensure that your small business client websites operate smoothly, and safely, supporting their business as they grow. In the event that something does go wrong with a client site, these will also enable you to respond quickly and effectively, before their revenues or reputation are impacted.
Regular backups and disaster recovery planning
Always set up automatic daily backups for your client websites. While you may still take manual backups on some occasions, backing up all your websites daily ensure you’ll always have a copy of the latest data in the event of a disaster or security breach.
Backups are a key part of a robust disaster recovery plan, but they’re not sufficient on their own. A disaster recovery plan is an internal standard operating procedure (SOP) that outlines exactly how a business should respond in the event of a disaster, such as a serious cyberattack or a fire.
The purpose of a disaster recovery plan is to minimize the impact of a disaster on business operations and ensure that critical data and applications can be restored quickly. A robust plan might include the following:
- Identification of risks for the business
- Identification of important systems, data, and recovery goals
- Backup and recovery process outline
- Responsibility and communication plan to identify key roles in the event of a disaster
- Training plan for existing and new employees
- Vendor contact information for key vendors, like hosting providers
Security measures and SSL certificates
Website security measures can protect sensitive data in the event of a cyber attack. When choosing a hosting provider, ensure that they offer robust security measures like firewalls, SSL certificates, and malware protection. Having an SSL certificate on all your client websites ensures that all data transmitted between the website and its visitors is encrypted and secure.
Scalability and flexibility for growth
A hosting solution that offers flexibility and scalability will enable your SMB clients to grow without running into website performance issues. Website Pro includes hosting from the Google Cloud Platform, ensuring seamless scalability.
Speed and performance optimization
Speed and performance are important both from a customer UX perspective and from an SEO perspective. Loading times are a direct Google ranking factor, so ensuring you choose a website hosting and maintenance solution that delivers fast, well-performing sites will help them be more discoverable in Google.
Website maintenance tips
Staying on top of routine website hosting and maintenance tasks can go a long way in preventing issues and vulnerabilities from popping up. Build these into your site maintenance services.
Regular updates and upgrades
Failing to update plugins, themes, and WordPress versions can lead to vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors. Staying on top of these updates is crucial if you want to protect your client websites from attacks.
While this can be done manually when you only have a few clients, it can become time-consuming as your client list grows. Website Pro’s Website Admin Dashboard enables you to make routine updates to all of your client websites from a single place, without having to log in and out of each account.
Testing and debugging
Regularly testing client websites is a good way to identify bugs that require attention, preventing them from impacting the user experience for too long. Testing websites across different browsers and devices is a good practice since it’s possible for websites to have responsiveness issues that negatively impact their mobile-friendliness.
Monitoring and analyzing website traffic
Tools like Google Analytics, which is built into Website Pro, can help you identify popular pages and monitor website performance. Tracking this data can help you spot issues like slow page load times or broken links. A dramatic decline in website traffic can indicate a more serious problem, such as a website violating Google’s guidelines and being de-indexed in search results.
Troubleshooting common website issues
Even an expertly built website can run into issues occasionally. Common website issues include:
- Broken links
- Slow page load times
- Server errors
- 404 errors
- Responsiveness issues
- Ecommerce flow issues
Having a website maintenance team available to address these, such as Vendasta’s white-label experts, can help you troubleshoot any unexpected bugs and issues.
Common website hosting and maintenance mistakes to avoid
The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is truer than ever when it comes to website hosting and maintenance. Avoiding these common mistakes can save you—and your clients—a lot of difficulties.
Not backing up the website regularly
Slacking on backups is a bad idea. You never know when something might go wrong with a website, and having a recent backup makes it easy to get back up and running in no time. For example, something as simple as a plugin update can break the front end of a website. With a backup, you can quickly roll back to before the update was made and address the issue.
Ignoring website security risks
Cyberattacks are increasingly common, and small businesses make up over 40% of the victims (Fundera). Malware attacks and data breaches can expose client credit card information, passwords, and other private information. Website and hosting security risks should be taken seriously and prevented through the use of security measures like SSL certificates.
Neglecting website speed and performance
No matter how gorgeous your client's website is, if it’s slow, it’s going to cause customers to bounce. Today’s internet users expect lightning-fast speeds and are easily distracted, so it’s important to regularly monitor website speed and performance and to improve them if they are not up to standard.
Failing to update website software and plugins
Updating software and plugins does have the potential to cause front-end issues if incompatibilities between plugins and themes arise, but this doesn’t mean updates should be ignored. It’s critical to keep all plugins, themes, and other software up-to-date and to address incompatibilities as they arise. Failing to do so can expose your client websites to unnecessary risk.
Choosing a website hosting provider
The right provider can make offering website hosting and maintenance effortless. Consider these factors when choosing your provider:
- Reliability and uptime
- Technical support
- User interface and tools to manage multiple websites
Types of hosting options available
When shopping around for a hosting provider, you’ll find that there’s a wide variety of options to choose from. Here is what you’re like to encounter.
With shared hosting, multiple websites share resources on a single server. Shared hosting is generally affordable and easy to set up, but it can have limited resources and scalability.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is a step up from shared hosting. With VPS hosting, a server is divided into multiple virtual servers, each with its own resources and operating system. Websites get a portion of a server to themselves. VPS hosting provides more control and flexibility than shared hosting and can be more scalable.
Dedicated hosting provides a dedicated server for a single website or business. This option is expensive but offers more security, reliability, and scalability than shared or VPS hosting.
Cloud hosting is a flexible and easily scalable hosting option that allows businesses to use a network of servers—the infrastructure of their cloud hosting provider—to host their website. It’s highly secure, reliable, and scalable while being far more affordable than dedicated hosting. For small businesses, this is the optimal hosting solution.
Any of the above options can be delivered as managed hosting, even with shared. You, as the hosting provider, manage all aspects of website hosting and maintenance for your clients using the hosting provider of your choice.
The best solution for website hosting
Vendasta’s Website Pro is the perfect partner for your website hosting and maintenance services. All sites include world-class hosting from Google, ensuring lightning-fast websites and unbeatable security. You can create website hosting and maintenance packages that suit all your clients’ needs while accessing agency tools that make the management of multiple sites a breeze.
Whether you want to offer self-managed reseller hosting or fully managed hosting, Website Pro is the ideal solution for agencies.
Frequently asked questions
What is website hosting and maintenance?
Website hosting and maintenance involve the ongoing process of managing and maintaining a website's infrastructure, security, performance, and content to ensure it stays up and running smoothly.
How much does it cost to host and maintain a website?
The average cost for web hosting and maintenance varies depending on several factors, like the hosting provider, hosting plan, website size and complexity, maintenance requirements, and additional services needed. Website hosting and maintenance cost can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per month.