Users expect for sites to be available and quick. If a webpage is slow, then they will likely look somewhere else to find what they are looking for. This is especially true for people viewing a website on a mobile phone using their data plan. The longer a user stays on your site, the lower your bounce rate will be which is a major signal to tell Google how well people liked visiting a particular webpage.
Knowledgeable web users have been taught to look for the “green pad lock” in the url bar to verify if a site is trusted by a Certificate Authority. If so, the connection between the user and the browser is encrypted. When a user places an order on an ecommerce store or submits information through a contact form, websites secured through an SSL Certificate and served over https offer a greater level of security than websites using http. In 2014, Google publicly announced they would rank websites using https higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Website uptime is important for two main reasons:
The faster a webpage and the more available the webpage is, the more Google and other search engine bots will crawl and index your website. If your website is down too long or too often, Google may even remove the indexing of your webpage(s).
Too often, I see website owners paying for Search Engine Optimization campaigns and/or Pay Per Click Advertising (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, etc.) when their website is performing below where it should be. The question I always like to ask is “Has my website reached its maximum potential without spending additional time and money on marketing?”
A dedicated private server is the highest level of hosting offered by web hosting companies. The lowest level is a shared server which is not suitable for any serious website. Your site can be one of hundreds (or even thousands) of websites on a shared server. If one of these sites is malicious, your site can be seen by Google as “living in a bad neighborhood”. Shared servers will also throttle your website when too many people visit the site or even when the same person visits the site too often.
The next level of hosting is a Virtual Private Server (VPS). After all, the word “virtual” says it all. It’s just another way of saying it’s “not” a private server. Instead, a VPS means that you will have dedicated resources and more speed. However, a VPS is expensive and requires a certain level of knowledge to configure and maintain your websites. If you ever have to call customer service for support, you will be expected to understand technical terms and how web servers work.
My Dedicated Private Server is a standalone computer owned by me in a large data center in Arizona. There are only two people (myself and my Senior Server Administrator) who has access to this machine. Your website will not be the only website on the server. But, you can be assured that all of the websites on the server are those of our client’s, and we continuously monitor and trust that the websites are legitimate.
When WordPress releases an update, they usually include some new functionality. This is not the main reason website owners should update the WordPress Core. The main reason is because the software update includes bug fixes, and sometimes these bugs can expose security risks. What is worse is that when WordPress finds and releases a software update, they also publicly announce the security hole and how it can be compromised. This is basically an instruction guide to hackers to show them how they could possibly hack your site. The same thing is true for WordPress Plugins.
When WordPress or WordPress plugins release an update, I am notified by email immediately. Then, I go and install the update on your site. But, I always make sure to do two (or three) things:
I don’t advertise “unlimited websites”, but I have not prevented anyone from adding another site to their hosting account yet. The reason I don’t set a fixed number of websites per web hosting package is because all websites are not equal. It is possible that one website can use more resources than several other websites combined.
If you have several websites, then you can still host them all in one account without extra charges unless the new website creates a unique situation.
Backing up your web site is great, but what happens to your backups if something were to happen to the server? Best practices dictate that backups need to be stored somewhere other than the primary server. So, you can feel safe that you have redundant backups.
In 2014, Google publicly announced they are ranking websites using https higher than websites serving their webpages over the older http. The “s” in https stands for “secure”. When a user’s browser connects to a website using https, the website returns an SSL Certificate to the browser. This SSL Certificate is issued by a Certificate Authority (CA) which has verified that the website is legitimate. Once the connection is made between the user’s web browser and the website, the data sent between the two is encrypted and can’t be intercepted by other computers on the network.
In the past, websites generally had an SSL Certificate when the site was taking credit card information. In fact, it is usually a requirement to have an SSL Certificate installed on a website when accepting credit cards. However, times have changed, and things are like the wild west on the internet these days! Plus, users no longer just use their computers in their home and office. Now, people use laptops, tablets and mobile devices in cafes, airports, hotels and anywhere they can get an internet connection. If your webpages are served over http and not encrypted, any information a user sends can be hijacked.
Let’s Encrypt is a non-profit service created in 2016 that issues SSL Certificates for free. While I do applaud the efforts of this organization for helping to secure the internet, I do not use these certificates for two reasons:
In short, show your users that your site is legitimate, secure and safe to use by having a commercial SSL Certificate installed and up to date.
This service Includes a powerful form plugin to create ways to collect and submit information from website users. I have used this plugin to create contact forms, registration forms, bankruptcy forms, divorce forms, appointments and scheduling request forms, gift certificates purchase forms, etc.
An SMTP server is responsible for delivering emails from your website. Some examples of emails sent from your website include contact form submissions, account signups, order received notification, and more. Using a third-party SMTP outgoing email service helps deliver emails from your website quickly because these services are trusted by email services.
There is nothing more frustrating than emails sent from your website not being delivered quickly to their destination. Too often, these emails are delivered slowly, end up in spam folders, display phishing warnings, or just don’t get delivered at all. Email spam is a big problem for email providers, and they need to know that emails coming from your website are legitimate and safe.
An SMTP service (including setup) is one of the extra services included in your web hosting package for no extra cost.
Every web site on a web hosting server has an error log. The error log fills up with error messages, warnings, and notifications when something does not work or works unexpectedly. The information in this error log is important, and errors need to be dealt with. These errors are negatively impacting your site even if you or your website visitors don’t know they are occurring.
I have a script on my server that monitors the size of each error log. When it gets to be over a certain size, then I get an email notifying me of the problem. Then, the error log is reset, and the oversized log is stored in a separate place so I can use the details to investigate and fix any issues. The problem with having large error log files is it slows down the corresponding website because it has to constantly find, open, write to, save and close the error log file. Plus, this process happens every time a user visits your site.
Most web hosting companies will never monitor your error log for problems or notify you about its size. However, I am personally invested in making sure every website on the server is running as well as it can.
99.9% uptime may sound good at first, but do the math. 99.9% uptime also means 8.76 hours a year or 43.8 minutes a month of downtime. If you are running a website where you and your users need to be able to rely on a site, then that is too much downtime. What happens when Google tries to crawl your website during downtime? The search engine bots record the site as not being available, and this is not the type of website they want to send their users to.
Due to proper server configuration and constant monitoring, my server has been able to maintain at least 99.99% uptime which is less than an hour per year or 5 minutes per month of downtime. My server has features implemented to communicate with another server to monitor any problems. If problems do arise, a signal can be sent to reboot the server very quickly and restart all the web services responsible for running your website.
The reason I started offering this service was because I dealt with some nightmares when using other web hosting providers. It is not that these other providers were not providing what they said they would. It is just that they have to work with hundreds of thousands of customers and have to compete with other large web hosting companies in terms of managing their costs and maximizing their profits.
When you sign up with a web hosting company (like GoDaddy or Bluehost ) and need support, they are available to call 24 hours a day. You will be greeted by an automatic answering service and asked for information. What is your username? What is your customer #? What is your customer PIN? Once you find this information, you will be given options that you may or may not understand like “To speak with a sales agent, press 1. For domain support, press 2.” Most customers don’t understand what the problem is or who they need to talk to. They just know something is not working, and they want it fixed.
Once you have guessed at which department to choose, waited on hold for 20-30 minutes, and hopefully, get connected to that department, you will be greeted by a “first line” customer support rep. You see it is too expensive to have knowledgeable support personnel answering every support call. So, to save money, you will first be connected with a person that is able to handle basic questions like “How do I reset my password?” If your problem is more complicated or website specific (which it mostly is), then you will have to wait for an answer from a higher level support person who is generally investigating and answering multiple questions at one time.
This is the part that gets really annoying. These customer support reps always have a way to end the call without answering the question. They can say “I’m sorry. It seems like the problem is related to your website which is not part of our service. I would suggest contacting your web developer.”
You are not just another customer to me. I depend on my clients for my livelihood. Most of the time, I am also the person who builds, updates and modifies your website. If a problem arrises with your web hosting or website, you just contact me by whatever method works best for you – email, phone, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts – whatever. I’m on everything at this point. When you connect with me, I know who you are and you know who I am. We are just going to jump straight into the problem you need to be resolved.
This is the flagship feature of my service!