Last week I introduced this series discussing how important, yet often overlooked, web hosting is to the overall success of your website. I also discussed how important quality tech support is to that success as well as ensuring that your web host provider provides consistent up-time with very few server outages. Today I'll discuss Server Load Monitoring and what you need to know about using secure areas of your server.

Server Load Monitoring

You want to choose your hosting plan carefully to ensure that it will be able to handle whatever server load your site might generate, especially during peak times or big marketing pushes. Most web hosts allocate a certain amount of bandwidth usage each month. If you exceed that, you may find yourself paying extra fees, or worse, your site may be inaccessible until you ante up more money.

Be sure to know your bandwidth usage and how much you are allocated. Knowing that, you'll also want to be aware of the consequences if you exceed that bandwidth. Plan for this to happen in advance so you're not caught off guard when you get a sudden surge of traffic.

Secure Server

If you are processing credit card information or storing personal data that should not be exposed, it is important that you have access to a secure server. Security is a growing concern with Internet shoppers and many businesses report an increase in conversions just by displaying a secure symbol in their shopping cart area.

Some web hosts will provide you access to a secure portion of their server. In these cases when visitors navigate to the secure area, the URL will actually change and the visitor will no longer be “on” your site (i.e. In most cases the user probably won't even notice, however many websites place their entire online store on these external secure areas. The downside to this is that it removes many potentially valuable pages off your site making any potential search engine ranking benefit inaccessible to you. Each of these pages could otherwise be an entry point to your site via the search engines.

The other option is to have a secure area on your own site. You can do this by purchasing a secure certificate for your domain name. This certificate is then “installed” through your web host giving you unlimited secure areas of your site to work with—all on your own domain. This is the most professional solution and allows you to keep potential search engine friendly pages indexable with the rest of your site.

I would also recommend keeping as much of your website out of the secure area as possible and only transfer visitors to the secure area when they are in the checkout process. If they leave the checkout to continue shopping they should also leave the secure area.

Next week I will conclude this series discussing free hosting services, and the pros and cons of in-house hosting.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
September 30, 2005

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.

Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Selecting a Web Host Provider - Part Two