However, many wonder what the big deal is, especially for sites that aren’t particularly well-trafficked. A few hours or downtime per month and a slightly-slower response time doesn’t seem that important. After all, there is much more to running a website than having the fastest or most reliable one around.
But while it is true that a good site can survive bad hosting, a bad hosting account is an anchor that can keep good sites from soaring and drown more average ones before they can improve.
If you think bad hosting is no big deal, here’s five good reasons to reconsider your position.
1. SEO Pain
This one is fairly simple. Google works to provide the best results possible and it does so by trying to put the best sites it can find at the top of the results. If your site is down regularly or moves slowly, Google is not going to rank it as highly.
If you log into Google Webmaster Tools, you’ll see that Google tracks both crawl errors and site loading time. Though the latter is not entirely accurate, if your site is down and you throw back a slew of errors during a Google crawl, it will hurt you, especially if it happens repeatedly.
One downtime probably won’t be an issue, but if errors become commonplace Google will likely start bumping you down in the rankings. Likewise, if your site loads slow, Google will start favoring other sites with similar credentials to yours that move faster.
It’s all about providing the best user experience and if your site can’t give it, Google will find someone who can.
2. The 8 Second Rule
How long can your site take to load? There’s no hard and fast rule and every site is different, but attention spans are definitely short on the Web.
The number varies but, generally speaking, if your site doesn’t load in 8 seconds, the visitor is already gone.
If that seems short, that’s actually the “gentler” report. Other studies have found visitors start to click “back” after 5 seconds become frustrated after just four.
Sadly, you might not even realize when this happens as your analytics may “see” the visitor even if they didn’t read a single word. Instead, they’ll appear as just another “bounce”.
3. The 22 1/2 Hour Salesman
If your site is part of a business, even if it is only a small part of your overall marketing strategy, how well it performs is crucial and it reflects on your company.
If a customer or client visits your site to find it sluggish or down, they are going to believe not just that your site is unreliable, but that the company is as well. People tend to project their views of a company’s site on the company itself, unfair or not.
There is an old adage about a website being a 24/7 salesperson for your company, make sure that salesperson is always working and that it is saying good things about you.
4. Losing Traffic Spikes
The nature of traffic at most sites is that there is a baseline traffic level that, usually, is increasing slowly with time. However, a large percentage of the traffic comes from traffic spikes that can be generated from everything from social media mentions to a breaking story generating a lot of queries relevant to your site.
This is when much of your traffic will be coming in and it is also when your bad hosting account is likely to collapse like a house of cards.
These visitors are new to your site, engaged in what you are talking about and, even though most probably won’t return, some will and it is a great chance to grow your core audience. However, if you have bad hosting you’ll miss those opportunities, however rare they may be.
5. Missing the Key Visitor
This is a hard effect to measure or track, but if your site is down or visitors click away before it loads, it might not seem like a big deal. After all, there will be others.
But some visitors are more valuable than others. Was the visitor you turned away due to a downtime a potential customer, the person who was going to Tweet your story out to tens of thousands of people or the individual who was going to alert you to a major news story that will give your site an edge?
You don’t know. You can’t know.
Every site downtime turns away visitors and, though most of them were likely to be “bouncers” who would have read one thing and never come back, some of them would have stuck around, become regulars and maybe even helped your site in other ways.
Every visitor to your site is important because every visitor could be crucial. Turn one away and you risk missing out on the biggest opportunity ever.
If you value your site and want it to grow, you need to take your hosting seriously. Though every site will go down from time to time or run sluggishly, you simply can not risk having a bad host as it hurts your efforts in too many ways.
It is well worth the time and the money to get a reliable, fast and efficient host for your site. Your visitors will thank you, the search engines will repay you and, most importantly, you’ll be giving your site a fair chance to be as great as it can possibly be.
It is such a simple act that can make all the difference in the world.
(Thanks to striatic for the image).
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