Over the last few years, shared web hosting became a popular alternative for businesses and individuals who wanted, or needed, to avoid the cost and complexity of maintaining their own in-house dedicated servers.
In it’s time, shared hosting was something of a revolution, allowing smaller businesses to gain a footing in the world wide web.
However, while shared hosting offered some definite advantages to the masses, it also suffered from some major pitfalls as a web host, and even more damage for your SEO efforts.
Shared hosting continues to slip in resources of speed and performance. Backup and scalability? A complete joke. Here’s a list of shared hosting companies that I would stay far far away from.
Enter the Virtual Private Server (VPS), a welcome alternative to shared hosting for everyone.
Did I mention it helps your SEO? More on that later.
What is VPS Hosting?
VPS hosting uses virtualization software to create separate, and self contained, virtual servers within a single physical server. Sounds complicated, right? All it really means is there are multiple “virtual” servers on the physical server hardware.
Each one of these “virtual servers” operates independently of its neighbors, and basically functions as a dedicated server, typically a web server.
Virtual private servers provide a level of performance and control far beyond that which can be offered by any shared host, and second only to that which can be found with a single dedicated server. The cost, however, rivals the savings found with inferior shared hosting services.
The “cloud” or cloud computing has skyrocketed over the last couple years, especially with the rise of Google and Amazon (Microsoft is in there somewhere too). This has brought storage costs way down.
There are two companies leading the pack when it comes to VPS hosting for your website. They are Linode and Digital Ocean. There’s just one thing, both of these platforms are geared around having you maintaining your own web server.
Linode does offer managed hosting, if you’re not comfortable with server technologies. If you are comfortable, here’s a quick LAMP tutorial for Digital Ocean.
The Benefits of a VPS
VPS hosting offers many benefits for the small business owner or independent entrepreneur. Beyond the cost benefit, a VPS provides a wide range of technical advantages that surpass what is being offered by shared hosting services.
- Greater Flexibility – With a virtual server, you have the ability to choose the specific operating system and software that you prefer. Shared hosting companies have a ton of software and services that are never used.
- Increased Performance and Stability – Did you know that shared host put 1,000+ websites on each shared platform? That’s ridiculous, and one bad apple can cause the whole lot to suffer heavily. With your own VPS, you know which sites are running at all times.
- No More Sharing Resources – With VPS hosting, you will have dedicated resources that are yours and your alone. That means your own storage space, RAM, and dedicated CPU cores.
- Improved Scalability – Shared hosting offers little room for growth, but with your VPS can grow to accommodate your business. Because you have a self contained virtual server, you can easily add resources as needed. This is not only invaluable to growing businesses, but also to businesses who may be expecting a sudden spike in online traffic due to a sale or special offer.
- Increased Security – Security has always been an issue with shared hosting services. Stacked hosts inevitable lead to a greater number of possible entry points for hackers. Because a VPS provides a separate and independent virtual server, you remain isolated from other clients on the physical server. Consequently, there are fewer back doors for hackers to exploit.
- Ultimate Control – With VPS, you have full access to your server environment. You are at liberty to install any software or security protocols you wish. You remain in total control of your server, and ultimately your website.
Added Benefits for SEO
Did I mention there are SEO opportunities? In addition to the flexible perks listed above, having a VPS for multiple web properties offers some benefits directly affecting your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
The lack of sharing resources, along with increased control and security delivered through a VPS, are examples of elements that all become pluses when optimizing your websites’ performance.
Faster, better performing pages and sites will engage users more quickly, which tends to reduce bounce rates otherwise inflated by poor performance.
Bounce rate is another important SEO metric used by the major engines (even though Google denies it). Bounce rate estimates user engagement, and it can tell you a lot about both the mechanical and aesthetic performance of your website.
Shared Hosting Killer – IP Sharing
The killer in shared hosting, well beyond the performance, is your neighbors on your shared space. I mentioned this above in the benefits section, but it bears repeating. Each domain name (ie. www.yoursite.com) must translate to an IP address.
On shared hosting, you can easily be sharing this same IP with 100’s or 1000’s of other websites. If one of those sites is in gambling, porn, or any frowned upon niche, your site will be dragged down with it in the search results.
All you have to do is copy your website’s IP address into a reverse IP lookup tool to see your neighbors.
Eventually, as your business continues to grow and diversify, you will outgrow your single VPS environment and might opt for a load balancing solution into the Amazon Cloud.
But until that day comes, a VPS is your best best for small businesses that want to increase and develop their online presence, help their SEO and optimize site performance, and do it all without breaking the bank.