How to Choose the Best UK Web Hosting for Your Website?
Thinking about launching a UK website? Maybe try to break into a competitive online market with an online shop targeting a UK customer base? Whichever the reason, your idea for a UK website needs a web hosting to match. And because web hosting is our specialty, we have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the process of choosing the best hosting for your .co.uk website. As with the purchase of any service or product, choosing a website hosting requires you to think about your current and future requirements. The nature of your online venture (e.g. professional blog, ecommerce site, corporate website, etc.) will determine many aspects of the type of hosting plan you need and the kind of features it should include.
Our tips on how to choose the best UK website hosting will include considerations regarding the type of operating systems available, the type of control panel to look for, whether you need to think about upgrade flexibility, whether server location matters, and other aspects concerning performance, features and pricing.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Website Hosting
Regardless of the domain extension of your future website, there are some factors that are common for any type of web hosting you choose – performance, control panel, features and scalability are equally important across all types of hosting plans.
1. Server Operating System
Just as your computer or mobile phone runs on an operating system, the server that will host your website runs on one as well. Linux is the industry standard, but you’ll also find Windows accounts. The OS of your hosting may not be such an important factor unless you plan on running some proprietary software that would otherwise not run on a different operating system. For example, running .NET, ASP, or Microsoft Silverlight would require you to opt for a Windows hosting account. For projects related to WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or websites and applications written in Ruby, PHP, or Python, Linux accounts are preferred.
Don’t worry about never having used Linux before, since web hosting accounts have control panels and installation tools that makes it unnecessary for you to be knowledgeable in using Linux. Therefore, there is no need to match the OS of your computer to the OS of your hosting account.
2. Web Hosting Control Panel
Much of the software on Linux servers is open source, with few exceptions like the type of control panel that comes with it. The preferred web-based control panel used for managing your web hosting account is cPanel, which is recognised as the most customisable and user-friendly control panel on the market. It allows users to manage their domain names, databases, emails, PHP versions, backups, logs, and many other aspects of their web hosting accounts. Some hosting accounts will also include WHM (Web Hosting Manager), which grants you access to cPanel’s back-end, allowing you to customise it. If you’re thinking about getting into hosting reselling as well, WHM will allow you to come up with your own version of the cPanel interface that better suits your clients’ needs.
Since cPanel allows the creation of custom interfaces, different hosting providers will have different interfaces, and most providers will have a demo platform that allows you to take a look at their cPanel version.
3. Server Location – Does it matter?
Since you’re launching a UK website, you may be wondering whether it matters where the server is located and whether it’s necessary for the server to be located in the United Kingdom seeing how you can get better deals at overseas hosting providers. Should you choose a web hosting provider with servers located in the United Kingdom since you’re targeting UK customers? The short answer is not necessarily! While Google does prefer local servers, server location is not a decisive factor in your website’s SEO rankings. Google will give more weight to the specific country code top-level (ccTLD) or generic TLD you use and the country that you specify in Webmaster Tools. Thus, in theory, if you have a .co.uk domain that targets UK customers, and have that specified in Webmaster Tools, the fact that you’re hosting your website on a US server will not have a significant impact on your SEO rankings.
What are the load time implications of hosting your website on overseas servers? Is site speed affected by server location? The more hurdles are place between the customer and their access to your content, the more time is needed for the content to reach your customers. A decrease in site speed even by a few seconds can affect user experience. One way to deal with such issue is to choose a hosting provider that offers a Content Delivery Network service, which will deliver content based on the geo-location of your customers, thus eliminating any of the load time issues associated with having a server located in a different country.
4. Hosting Plan Upgrade Options
You may not have the financial resources to choose the most full-featured, resource-packed hosting plan from the start, or you may not be able to evaluate your future needs correctly. It may be that you start out on a shared hosting plan, but in a few months, you’ll need to switch to a VPS or dedicated plan. For all these scenarios, a good hosting provider will allow you to scale up at any time, without any hassles. You never know when your website goes mainstream and when you’ll need to be able to handle a higher influx of traffic. A reputable hosting provider will give you the option to seamlessly upgrade your account, allowing you to easily handle these situations.
5. Speed (Performance) and Server Uptime
As mentioned before, the location of your host’s servers can have an influence on latency and site speed. If your site is running slow, it will damage your visitor’s user experience, increase bounce rates, and adversely affect your SEO position. The performance of your website can also be influenced by the hardware setup of the hosting provider. Some hosting providers will not go into great lengths in describing their hardware setups, and even when they do, the untrained eye may have difficulties in comparing one company’s hardware to another’s. However, even if you’re not knowledgeable in hardware facts, there are specific things that you can look for when choosing a hosting for your UK site. Thus, detailed hardware specs are usually a good sign, solid state drive (SSD) servers are also known for delivering better speeds, proximity of server location to targeted customer base, and CDN implementation are all markers of a quality host.
Another aspect that can kill your SEO efforts is bad site uptime and consistency. Look for a web hosting provider with high availability guarantees and read hosting reviews to determine which hosting provider delivers consistent uptimes.
6. Features, Price & Value
Prices are extremely varied when it comes to hosting plans. Shared hosting plans are the cheapest, but also the most basic of hosting plans. But even with shared hosting plans there can be significant differences from one provider to another in terms of the features they offer for the same price. For example, some may offer a free domain registration, others may offer free backups, free advertising credits, and CDN implementation, others may not. Compare the features of seemingly similar plans and see which provider has the better price for the same features.
By taking the above factors into account when you’re narrowing down your choices for webhosting, you’ll be able to choose a reliable hosting company for your UK website. Support responsiveness is an often overlooked aspect when choosing a hosting provider. If your hosting plan is good, you won’t be needing to contact customer support, but when things go wrong a reliable and responsive customer support is an absolute must.