One of the best ways to grow your small business is with a website. It’s a necessary evil, one that, unfortunately, often comes accompanied with confusion. You’ll need a web hosting provider to get your site online, and there is certainly no shortage of providers targeting small businesses.
Web hosting is the process behind making your site live on the internet. Servers, computers built for networked storage,do the heavy lifting, gathering up all the data of your website and delivering it to whomever is trying to access it.
Here at Cloudwards.net, we tried out the best web hosting providers to see which was best for small business. Before we could determine which providers made the cut, though, we had to establish some criteria.
What Makes Web Hosting Best for Small Business?
Small business hosting plans have a lot in common with other forms of hosting. As far as the actual service goes, a fast and reliable connection wins out over almost anything else. However, there are a few things that make plans perfect for small businesses.
Cost is, of course, the first concern. While your business is getting off the ground, the last thing you need is a high web hosting bill. Inexpensive plans will go most of the distance in the web hosting world, with diminishing returns on high-end configurations. Every provider we looked at has more expensive options, but all offer budget plans, too (if money management is a priority for you, make sure to read our article on the best accounting software).
Next, we looked at any extras that come with your plan. This includes anything from an SSL certificate to a domain name. While it’s important you familiarize yourself with what these are, going to several different places to acquire each is too much lost time. DreamHost, for example, provides free migration, an SSL certificate and a domain with each sign-up.
In line with that thinking, we looked at support too. Questions will come up, especially if this is your first website, so a knowledgeable support staff that’s easy to contact is important. For example, SiteGround has one of the best teams we’ve seen, each staff member quick to respond and eager to help.
Lastly, we took how you build your website into account. Usually there’s a limited budget and lack of website design experience, so a simple way to create a beautiful site is important. BlueHost caters to this market, with a easy to use website builder and one-click WordPress installer.
Combining it all together is what makes web hosting tick for small business. Some hosts will mislabel plans or overcharge for services, targeted specifically at small businesses will little knowledge of the web hosting world. After hitting these criteria, though, there’s little argument that these hosts are the best.
HostGator is, by and large, one of the best hosts we’ve run across. It has a massive list of plans, accommodating nearly any customer, not the least of which is small business. There are quite a few inexpensive plans, each chock full of features, but we found cloud hosting to be the best for small businesses.
This form of hosting spreads your site across a network of servers, improving security and reliability. HostGator has the cheapest rates for these plans, an ideal combo of cost and performance for small businesses.
It’s extremely easy to use too. HostGator uses a redesigned cPanel as the backend interface, building on the already simple design. You have all the power you could want, but it’s all tucked away in easy to navigate categories.
Other Reasons We Like HostGator
The plans at the top-end of HostGator’s line are still just as good. Often, hosts will lean heavily in one direction, unbalanced at either end of the spectrum. Such is not the case at HostGator, with each plan tweaked just right for the price, each delivering a range of features.
It’s easy to upgrade your plan as well. The support at HostGator is top-notch and will guide you through any changes in configuration as your site grows. While you will be moving to different forms of hosting, HostGator makes the process simple.
It’s difficult to find any reason not to like HostGator. It matches the needs of small business one for one, and still has the means to accommodate large businesses. If you’re looking for a one stop shop, HostGator is probably for you. Read our HostGator review to learn more, or try it out for yourself with a 45-day money back guarantee.
- Wide range of plans
- Excellent support
- Dated knowledge base
SiteGround is one of the best web hosts for small business simply because it’s great for WordPress. In fact, it was our first choice for the best web hosting for WordPress. With a simple and inexpensive pricing model and plenty of features, SiteGround is also excellent for small businesses.
Inexpensive WordPress and shared plans are the star of the show here. SiteGround provides a stair-step model that we absolutely fell in love with. It provides a clear path of growth, adding more resources as your site (and business) accommodates for visitors.
For actually building your site, you can choose to have SiteGround install WordPress for you, or use its drag and drop website builder. While it’s not as good as DreamHost’s (which we’ll get to later) it’s still a competent website design tool that allows you to quickly throw something together that looks great.
SiteGround is our favorite WordPress host and, while SMBs can take advantage of the website builder, WordPress offers more flexibility. Make sure to read our guides on using the CMS to learn more.
- Beginner’s Guide to Using WordPress
- Intermediate Guide to Using WordPress
- Advanced Guide to Using WordPress
Other Reasons We Like SiteGround
There are a lot of other reasons to love SiteGround outside of the low cost. Support, for example, is the best we’ve seen from a web host. SiteGround shows you a profile of who you’re speaking with, fit with ratings and background information about the team member.
A bit unnecessary, yes, but it’s good way to show how dedicated it is to support. Each of the three forms of contact work great, with fast response times and helpful staff. Even after testing all three, we could never settle on which was the best.
Despite that, SiteGround is best suited for smaller operations. While there is a path of growth, more expensive plans don’t offer much upside, especially compared to how good the inexpensive ones are. Read our SiteGround review to learn more or sign up for yourself with a 30-day money back guarantee.
- Great support
- Feature rich
- Clear pricing model
- Disappointing high-end plans
BlueHost follows the same line as HostGator and SiteGround, but with less power at the top end. It’s a go-to for small businesses and personal blogs, with balanced and affordable plans and WordPress integration to boot (which is why you’ll also find it on our list of best cheap web hosting solutions).
The main draw for small business is price. BlueHost is extremely cheap, with shared plans starting at only a few dollars per month. While you’ll have to buy a year or more upfront, the cost is still low and allows businesses to keep their site online without worrying about paying each month.
The design aspect of your site is covered too. BlueHost includes a one-click WordPress installer and a drag and drop website builder with each plan. If you have a few extra bucks laying around, BlueHost will even design your site for you, as well as provide month-to-month SEO and marketing consultation.
This extra service is huge for small businesses. While much more costly than the actual hosting, the amount of value is massive, allowing you to focus on serving your customers while BlueHost focuses on acquiring them.
Other Reasons We Like BlueHost
Despite how much BlueHost excels in other areas, our favorite part is how easy it is to use. An updated cPanel makes managing your site dead simple. BlueHost calls this an “enhanced” cPanel, and while it sounds like a bunch of marketing nonsense, it’s actually true.
BlueHost carries this ease into support. Instead of separating out multiple support sections, it asks for your question and then points you towards what it thinks is the best. That can come from the knowledge base, a list of tutorials or just through the staff directly, each of which are fully realized forms of support.
While lacking in options when compared to HostGator, BlueHost still nips at its heels. Fewer plans, but more features make each service more rounded, with services like website design really shining through. Read our BlueHost review to learn more, or test drive it yourself with a 30-day money back guarantee.
- Website design service
- Excellent cPanel
- Fewer options when choosing a plan
If budget is your main concern, you can’t get much cheaper than iPage. At only a couple bucks per month, its services are hard to match with a bundle of ad credits, a free domain and decent website builder.
It’s surprising how much iPage includes at such a low cost. $200 in ad credits will get you off the ground in marketing your business, and SiteLock security tools will keep your website clear of any malware.
While a one-click WordPress installer is included, you can use the website builder to craft your own look. iPage supports up to six pages for free, with a slight extra charge if you go over. Like with the other builders on this list, you can start with a template and tweak it to your taste.
If your business intends to sell online, iPage has you covered too. It supports most major payment interfaces, including Zen Cart, PrestaShop and AgoraCart. If none of those suit your fancy, PayPal checkout is built into each site.
Other Reasons We Like iPage
iPage caters to the small business market directly, offering nothing else outside of the shared hosting plans. However, you can add features on top to further customize your site.
Website security through SiteLock, automated backups and WordPress optimization are each only a few extra dollars per month. It’s a bit disappointing to pay for extras, yes, but easy to overlook when iPage’s base plan is so inexpensive.
One particular feature that caught our eye, though, was hosting for G Suite. We chose the Google suite as our top pick for best email hosting, and tacking it onto an iPage plan is a match made in heaven. You get a range of business tools, allowing you to share documents with your team, set up online conferences and use the Gmail interface, all with unlimited Drive storage.
There are few places to go after an iPage plan, but that’s part of what makes it so good. It does one thing very well, with a few extras to accommodate a growing customer base. You can read our iPage review to learn more or try it out for a month with a 30-day money back guarantee.
- Very inexpensive
- Free website builder
- Free ad credits
- Extra charge for some features
DreamHost falls behind the previous options on this list simply because it’s more expensive than most. However, if you can afford the extra coin, you’ll gain access to higher speeds, great support and a dedication to privacy.
While each of those are pluses, none of them fit into our criteria. What does is DreamHost’s website builder, though. The Remixer builder is one of the best we’ve seen, offering tons of flexibility in design without getting too technical.
Instead of starting with a blank page, DreamHost gives you a list of themes to choose from that you can customize further using the drag and drop interface. Small businesses will be able to design a great looking website quickly, and make easy tweaks as needed. That flexibility is what makes Remixer shine.
Other Reasons We Like DreamHost
The extra cost of DreamHost is for features that don’t pertain directly to small businesses, but nonetheless benefit them. It has a keen eye for privacy and security, offering a slew of extra features to keep your site and information secure.
Every plan comes with a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. This piece of kit provides a tunnel for all information to travel through on your website. If you collect any personal information, an SSL certificate will ensure that it’s encrypted before being sent to the server.
For your personal information, DreamHost includes domain privacy with each plan. No other host we’ve encountered provides this service for free, and the fact DreamHost does is huge. Basically, when you register a domain name, your personal information is tied to it. Domain privacy returns DreamHost’s information instead of your own should someone look it up in the WHOIS database.
While costs are high, the extra security and privacy are well worth it. Combine that with an excellent website builder and speedy servers and DreamHost is a great choice. You can read our DreamHost review to learn more, or try it out yourself with a 30-day money back guarantee.
- Remixer website builder
- Reliable and secure
- Dedication to privacy
Those are our picks for the best web host for a small business. It’s a difficult field to navigate as so many different hosts cater directly to the small business market, but these five truly help instead of just bearing the “small business” moniker.
What host are you going with? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.