Developing a website is an absolute necessity for a business of any size. There are a lot of different areas of planning when you begin to develop your own website. And one of the most important elements is your hosting company. You can have the best designed website on the block, but if you don’t have a reputable company to host your site, you are throwing your money away and taking a huge risk! The following are some questions you absolutely need to ask before you decide on your hosting partner.

1. How strong and accessible is their technical support division?

Make sure that the company’s support system is adequately staffed to handle your calls and emails. Support should be available 24/7 and you should not have to hold for long periods of time. Being able to speak with a live person 24/7 is absolutely crucial in case your website goes offline. Plus, make sure their support does not cost extra – it should be included in your monthly fee!

2. How secure is the company?

The company should be protected against any power failure, natural disaster, and especially anyone trying to steal your information. Ask what type of protection they offer and how they can ensure that no one will be able to view your private information.

3. What’s the cost now and in the future?

Your company is ready to expand and your website should be able to expand with it. This means that you must have plenty of storage capacity to fit your website. Be aware of how much space your website currently needs and how much you think it could grow into in the future. Ask the company ahead of time what they would charge to add more storage, emails, etc. That way you will know what prices to expect when you need to upgrade.

4. Will the hosting company register your domain name?

Find out if the hosting company will include a domain name with the hosting cost. They should be able to tell you how long it will take to get the domain name registered. Make sure they register your .com in your name. Some hosting company’s can hold you hostage from switching to another host if they own your name. Be careful on price. You should never pay more than $30.00 per name per year to register your .com.

5. What is the company’s uptime?

If you are paying for a website it absolutely must be available! Make sure that you ask your potential hosting partners what their “uptime” is. A website that is unavailable is a great way to lose your customer base and keep visitors from ever coming back! You may want to contact clients of the hosting partner you are considering and asking about their service. This is a good way to get honest answers and to select the best hosting company for your business.

6. What email options do they offer?

You should know how many email addresses come with your hosting package. You’ve got to think about expansion always, so ask what the cost is, if any, to add extra email addresses and storage capacity. Plus, make sure they have a built in virus and span blocker to ensure you don’t get a bunch of spam and other marketing services.

7. Do they offer search engine optimization?

Submitting your website to search engines like Yahoo! or Google once a month will rank your website higher in the search results pages. Ask if search engine submissions, email marketing, or web design services are included in your package to ensure you can get and keep more customers to your site.

8. What are the costs now and in the future?

You’ll want to know if there are any hidden costs. Some hosting company’s will offer a low-ball price to lure you in and tack on costs for every option. Know exactly what you get for exactly how much. If their prices are easily found on their website – go somewhere else.

9. Will you be locked into a contract?

As with any business situation, you should know the contract like the back of your hand. Know how long the contract is for, what the penalty is for cancellation or switching, and what happens to your content if you do cancel.

10. Why choose them?

What is it exactly about this company that makes them better than their competition? Ask if they offer extra storage space, features, or better technical support. Many hosting companies will throw in some bonuses for free to get your business – ask them – if they don’t, find a company that will!

The bottom line is that you need to know how the hosting company can benefit your company. Ask plenty of questions and don’t be left in the dark. If you choose a hosting company that is a great match for your business you can expect great online results!

Tyler Houts is the Public Relations Director for Kinetica Media, an internet marketing company that works to harness the power of the internet for businesses of all sizes. Visit www.kineticamedia.com to see how their proven online marketing campaigns can enhance customer loyalty and attract new clients