Selecting a web host for your business or blog is an important step in the process of getting yourself online.
By doing so, you can start to announce your products and services to the world. However, in the event that you choose a bad web host, your efforts are for naught. You could end up with a gaping hole in your budget. Bad web hosts seek to scam you out of your funds and fail to provide you with the services that you think you are getting. Developing a savvy eye for picking out these scams is necessary in the business world.
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1. Choose well-known and reputable hosts
One of the best ways to select a host and avoid being scammed is to choose ones that have strong reputations. Check out the hosts that are associated with some of the big businesses in your area, and you can have a greater sense of confidence that they aren’t scams. Also, if you know other business and blog owners, talk to them about the hosts that they use. Of course, you have to enact a savvy mind when garnering advice from the competition. Consider talking to owners who are not in competition with you at all. I have reviewed 20+ popular and well-respected hosts.
2. Check their websites.
Once you have started to narrow down your list of potential hosts, check out the websites that are affiliated with them. Maybe you will find some trusted businesses that you have used in your community for years, or perhaps you will run into a site that has been long known as a scam. Even if you are unfamiliar with the sites themselves, you can browse through them to see if they look like legitimate businesses. While that practice does not necessarily leave you with a concrete answer, it does provide you with better direction.
3. Read through the agreement.
Sometimes, people knowingly sign themselves up for scams because they do not need read through the agreement. For example, they might simply click that they accept the terms and conditions of a particular host, skipping over the fact that they have to pay the host a percentage of their profits. Take the time to really read through the material before you click that you agree. Don’t just skip over information that is unclear to you. Some people will just say that they are going to ignore the information that they don’t understand. Doing so is a big mistake that often comes with a large price. If you don’t know what it is that you are reading, conduct further research and consider consulting with a lawyer.
4. Know when it’s too good.
When you were a child, your parents probably told you to proceed with caution if anything looked too good to be true, and that advice still applies. If a website is offering you an amazing deal that you could possibly even imagine to be true, then it probably isn’t. While a gem does appear from time to time, keep in mind that web hosts are in competition with one another. If a site is offering something so wonderful, you need to ask yourself why not everyone in the world is using.
5. Look for the host’s web presence and persona.
If you type in the name of the web host you are considering followed by the word “scam” or “reviews” into a major search engine, you may very well find the information that you need. You may even discover that the website has a review listing on a local page where plenty of people have provided feedback. Checking out a social media account is a good way to see what people are saying about the business. Keep in mind that you need to be careful with reviews that are posted online. Sometimes, people are paid to write them when they have no experience with the company at all. Also, some businesses hire online reputation management companies to polish their appearance on the internet. While some of these companies use ethical methods, others employ unsavory ones that manipulate people from seeing the truth.
6. Find out if you can get your money back.
No matter how much research you put into a particular decision, the only way to know if it truly works for you is to try it out. In trying out one of these web hosts, you may find that the company is certainly reputable, but the hosting site is just not for you. When you want to get the word out about your business or blog, you do not want to get stuck with a web host that is not for you. Therefore, before you sign up for any particular plan, you need to see if there is a way to get your money back in the event that it doesn’t work out. Of course, a time limit is likely going to exist on that deal. For example, you might only have the option to do so for 30 days after you sign up.
7. Pay attention to free trials.
When you see a free trial, you might think that absolutely nothing could go wrong. After all, it is free, so you feel assured that you will not have to pay any money if you are unhappy with the service. However, you still need to read the terms and conditions to make sure that you are signing up only for what you mean to. Also, during the free trial, you may be limited in the services and tools that you can use, so check out what is offered during the free trial. On top of that, you also need to see if the free trial sign-up asks for your credit card information. In the event that it does, you must proceed with caution. Ask yourself why a free trial would require your credit card information. Maybe it is one of those offers where they only charge you if you fail to cancel before a certain time period. Even though, you must know what you are getting into and set a reminder for yourself to cancel the service if you do not want it.
8. Look for contact information.
It’s true that even scam businesses can have addresses and phone numbers listed, but looking up these details can help you with your research. For example, once you find the contact number of the business, look it up. Then, you can see if any scam calls are associated with the web host or if people have made complaints about the number. You can also check to see what the address is and put it into a Google search. If you can pull up the image of the business, then you might have a greater sense of confidence that it is not a scam. For example, a web host company that has its headquarters in a corporate building provides you with a greater sense of confidence than one where a search of the address leads to a vacant property or a broken down residential structure.
9. Speak to a representative.
People have become well-versed in disguising their intentions through telephone conversations when they are experts at the art of scamming, but make yourself an expert in the art of detection. Speaking to a representative from the web hosting company can give you a fuller sense of whether or not this company is for real. You can ask questions about the business and the process to gain a better sense of whether you are receiving actual answers or if the person on the other end of the line is just equivocating. You will also get a sense of how strong the customer service skills are in the event that you ever have a problem.
10. Check out their Better Business Bureau rating.
If the web host has a listing on the Better Business Bureau’s website, then you are in luck. You can get information about the company from a professional source. Not only do you want to check out what the rating of the company is, but you also want to see how many complaints there have been and how many complaints have been resolved. This website will give the company a grade, so if you see an A, you can have a better sense that the web host is the right fit for you. For example Hostgator (read my review) has a BBB rating of A+.
11. Review the payment plan.
Chances are, that you are going to enroll in some type of payment plan when you set up your account with the company. Make sure that you review it carefully. A plan that looks convoluted might be there as a decoy. While you try to figure out the specific details of the payment plan, you are distracted from the sketchiness of the web host as a whole. Payment plans should not be complicated. It’s true that they might vary a little bit and that at the beginning, you may need to pay a little bit more to get started. Also, you should look for any fees associated with the overall price that seems questionable. It can often make more sense to buy your hosting for a year or more in advance. For example, iPage (review) charges $1.99 per month if you sign up for 36 months, while their normal fees are around $11 per month. Be sure to check for the payment methods, most hosting companies accept most major credit cards whereas some web hosting companies accept Paypal.
12. Don’t sell yourself short.
At some point, you will have to commit to a particular web host if you want to get your site up and running. However, you should continue to monitor it to find out if you are getting everything that you were promised. In the event that the company is not following through with its end of the deal, you must pursue your rights. You should speak to a representative, and if the issue is not resolved, you should also voice your concerns on social media and review pages. On top of that, you may want to contact the Better Business Bureau or an attorney to help you properly get what you were promised or to receive your money back. When it comes to these types of situations, keep in mind that you are your own advocate.