There are some issues and problems which can occur when trying to create or sustain an online presence. After performing some recent work with Agentpoint they thought it would be useful for me to share some of my knowledge with the audience of Business2. Often these are issues that many people either do not realise or simply do not know how to manage.
Let us begin with one of the basic essentials that everyone needs, but few really put much thought in to.
Some agents will never have to worry about web hosting, because their provider handles it for them, and often their website cannot even be moved to different hosting. Sites built by providers like HubOnline fall in to this category and they handle all technical issues.
Other real estate websites can choose their own hosting, which can give the agency a bit more flexibility and possibly even save some money. You do have to be cautious however because web hosts vary from professional companies run by people who have plenty of experience to sole traders working from their garage with no staff.
What to look for in a web host:
- Beware unlimited hosting. Avoid any hosts that say that they give you unlimited storage or bandwidth (data transfer). It is impossible for either of those to be unlimited (unfortunately no one has invented the infinite hard drive yet) so it is just a gimmick to pull you in and is a bad sign about the quality of the host. Unlimited email addresses or databases however are fine.
- You get what you pay for. You could pay as little as $2/month for your hosting, but when it is your business’s online presence at stake, is it really that important to save a few bucks? These hosts overfill their servers so your site is fighting against all the others to try and serve pages. For a standard agent’s website you should expect to pay between $10 and $15 per month for standard hosting.
Many hosts offer business hosting which is usually more reliable and has better support. If you put a lot of effort in to your site it may be worth looking in to for added peace of mind. Expect to pay $20 – $35 per month.
- Host Locally. It is generally a good idea to host your website in Australia, rather than the US or Europe. Since most or even all of your visitors will be Australian, they will view a website which loads faster if their request do not have to go halfway across the globe. Despite this, International hosting can be cheaper because domestic bandwidth is more expensive than in other countries.
- Do not pay too much for your domains! There are some ‘reputable’ companies that sell .com domains for over $75/year and .au domains for $140/2 years. You should not be paying more than $15/year for a .com, .net or .org domain and no more than $30/2 years for a .au domain.
- Backup, Backup, Backup! Always perform your own backups. Most web hosts do say that they perform backups however there is no way to know if they actually do, or if the backups will work when you need them. There are far too many horror stories of people losing their entire websites because a server failed and wiped all their data. Most web hosting control panels make it easy to download a backup of your site so there is no excuse not to create a backup from time to time. You should do it after any major changes and at least once every month or two. For larger sites I usually configure backups to run every night automatically and store the backup in offsite storage.
If you don’t have a recent backup, now is a good time to get one. If you have trouble, ask your host for help.
If you have any questions about the issues this article raises, feel free to comment on the article or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer your web hosting questions.